The attack on Top Channel’s office in Tirana was a heinous act of violence that targeted a news outlet and resulted in the loss of human life. As a journalist, I believe that I and my colleagues working for various media outlets have the fundamental right to operate without fear of violence or intimidation. The media plays a critical role in keeping the public informed and holding those in power accountable, and attacks on the press threaten the foundation of a free and democratic society.
While it is important to acknowledge and condemn the attack on Top Channel, it is also crucial to address the comments made by journalist Grida Duma. In my view, her comparison of the attack to NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999 is inappropriate and insensitive. Such an analogy detracts from the gravity of the situation and fails to recognize the unique circumstances surrounding the attack on Top Channel.
It is essential to recognize that acts of violence against the press are not isolated incidents. Journalists and media workers face threats, harassment, and intimidation daily in many parts of the world, and this trend is on the rise. According to Reporters Without Borders, 2022 was a particularly deadly year for journalists, with 67 journalists killed worldwide.
Grida Duma's unacceptable and insensitive comments
Comparing the attack to NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999 was a grave mistake, and Duma’s comments were unprofessional and lacked information. While it is true that NATO bombed the headquarters of Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) during the campaign, it is also important to note that the Serbian national broadcaster was in
violation of professional ethics by serving as a propaganda mouthpiece for the Milosevic regime, which was responsible for killing non-Serbian civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo.
Duma owes an apology to the victims of the Milosevic regime all over the Balkans, particularly the Kosovar families. It appears to me that journalist Duma needs to be reminded that her colleagues at RTS were involved in justifying Milosevic’s killing machine, which is responsible for the deaths of 150,000 people across the Balkans. The Hague Tribunal found that over 800,000 Albanian civilians were deported, and a total of 120,000 Albanian homes and 600 religious buildings were destroyed in Kosovo.
Despite the atrocities committed by the Milosevic regime, Duma’s colleagues at RTS have failed to report on the matter or ask for accountability from authorities in Belgrade. To this day, no judicial procedure has been undertaken to find and punish those who ordered the hiding of Albanian corpses in Serbia, even though there is evidence that state companies in Belgrade paid workers to hide the killed bodies.
The video footage displaying the heinous acts committed by the Serbian regime in Kosovo is undeniably impactful. Despite the presence of international media, the regime exhibits no guilt or remorse for their actions.— Vudi Xhymshiti (@VudiXhymshiti) March 30, 2023
Their conduct, which includes the deliberate burning of… pic.twitter.com/100EHa50AY
I believe that it is important to recognize the complex and sensitive nature of conflicts and the role of the media in reporting them. Duma’s comments were inappropriate and lacked nuance, and it is essential to hold journalists accountable for their words and actions. We must strive for responsible and ethical reporting that upholds the fundamental values of journalism, including truth, accuracy, and fairness.
Once again, comparing the attack to NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999 is not only a grossly misplaced analogy, but it also trivializes the gravity of the situation and fails to acknowledge the unique circumstances surrounding the attack on Top Channel. Duma’s comments, made in her TV programme, were unprofessional, lacked context and information, and are unacceptable.
It is our responsibility to report on events accurately and responsibly and to hold those in power accountable. Comparing the attack on Top Channel to NATO’s bombing campaign in Serbia in 1999 not only misses the mark but also undermines the important role that journalists play in bringing the truth to light and holding those in power accountable.
In the wake of this attack, it is essential that we come together as a community and condemn such acts of violence against journalists and media outlets. We must also strive for responsible and ethical reporting that upholds the fundamental values of journalism, including truth, accuracy, and fairness.
While it is important to hold Grida Duma accountable for her inappropriate and insensitive comments, we must also strive to be constructive in our criticism. Instead of attacking her personally, we can use this as an opportunity to engage in a meaningful dialogue about the importance of responsible journalism and the need for sensitivity and nuance when reporting on sensitive and complex issues.
The attack on Top Channel’s office is a stark reminder of the dangers faced by journalists and media outlets, and the need to protect and uphold press freedom. We must condemn such acts of violence and work towards creating an environment where journalists can carry out their work without fear of retribution or harm.