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Reforming Kosovo’s Media Landscape for Quality Journalism

Over the past two decades, Kosovo has faced various challenges, including the lack of rule of law, high corruption, organized crime, and unemployment. These challenges have negatively affected Kosovar society, impoverishing it and systematically damaging the state’s structure.

Kosovo is still suffering the consequences of 22 years of misrule.

As per my observation, the significant majority of self-proclaimed online press platforms in Kosovo, have distorted the truth for financial gains. Those who stand behind them must be held accountable for the damage they have caused to our society and political environment. We can no longer tolerate the deception that interferes with our right and responsibility to make well-informed choices about our future and our country.

The primary function of the press is to inform, educate, and hold those in power accountable. The press is not there to entertain, emphasize the trivial and sentimental, and even less so “give the public what they want.”

The government at all levels, both local and centralized, must fulfil its obligation to provide people with the most complete information possible, without obstruction from the interests of a political party or any “national security” justification.

To raise the quality of local media reporting, it seems necessary to have a legal obligation to disclose their funding sources.

Additionally, I believe that Kosovo needs an independent body to oversee the quality of reporting and a law that holds platforms responsible for maintaining it.

We must insist on a printing and online press quality that influences the improvement of collective thought and action in our country.

An irresponsible press leads to criminal consequences for its victims, the readers, undermining the interests of the people and their country in domestic and foreign policy. Therefore, intervention to regulate these issues is essential.

Towards exemplary, transparent, and professional media

In the past 22 years, Kosovo has faced various challenges, including corruption, organized crime, and unemployment, which have negatively impacted its society and structure. The media in Kosovo has contributed to these issues, with many self-proclaimed online press platforms distorting the truth for financial gain. — Vudi Xhymshiti

Media transparency and professionalism promote trust and, in this way, open communication, strengthening the relationship between readers and the media from which they are informed. This, in turn, fosters a cooperative and accountable environment between the public and the government, promoting mutual progress.

Best practices for media regulation could stipulate that no news organization or individual news collector – whether an independent reporter, blogger, vlogger, photographer, photojournalist, or filmmaker – should be allowed to operate without first obtaining a media company business license. To obtain such a license, an organization or individual must be legally obliged to meet the applicable criteria listed below, which would vary depending on their scale of operation:

  • The national organised press can only operate in Kosovo if the company is registered in the country.
  • They must publish their license number so that readers can verify it.
  • It might be best for all that the organised press promote to management positions only those who are qualified to practice journalism and/or not employ unqualified individuals in journalism roles who do not possess accredited professional qualifications from an independent body or lack professional knowledge in the field.
  • They must publish the source and extent of their funding, including that derived from advertising, and detail how it will be spent.
  • Their financiers, in turn, must be transparent about the source of their funding.
  • The press must declare any connection with any interest group, such as a political party or business organization, from which receiving funds would be illegal.
  • They must publish the code of ethics guiding their editorial decision-making and clarify the process by which readers can submit a complaint.
  • They must acknowledge that if they violate the code by publishing inaccurate news, they will be held accountable by an independent body of distinguished journalists and the country’s national association of editors, and accreditation and/or license may be revoked.
  • The press must make it clear to readers if a story, comment, opinion, or analysis piece is sponsored or has been made available for free publication by an individual or organization.
  • They must not publish an opinion or analysis under the category of news or reportage.
  • They need to protect workers’ rights by giving every employee a minimum of 30 days of paid leave, sick leave pays, and health and dental insurance.

And there are additional legal limitations that need to be put in place:

News organizations and individual news gatherers must be required to identify themselves as such.

It should be illegal for an advocacy movement or pressure group to imitate a media outlet.

The right of citizens to pursue a legal claim for defamation should be included in the law, and if found guilty, an organization or individual should be held accountable.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

I believe that the responsibility of journalists to the public takes precedence over any other responsibility – especially towards the employer and authorities. Therefore, he or she must, always, uphold the principles of freedom in the gathering and honest reporting of news and defend the right to fair comments and criticism.

A revaluation of the importance of their mission would oblige news distribution organizations and news gatherers to respect both the facts and the public’s right to truth, which is the journalist’s foremost duty.

I believe that it should be a priority of the public, on the other hand, to ensure that freedom of the press is protected by the Constitution.

With this process of cooperation, Kosovo’s progress cannot fail.

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