Preparing the next generation of reporters in Albania

Preparing the next generation of reporters in Albania

Elira Canga, Sarah Bushman, and Michael Alexander

A journalism student recording another student with a smartphone

Teenage journalists in Albania are learning professional skills and media ethics under the guidance of seasoned journalists. The initiative is mentoring aspiring journalists through training supported by IREX and our partner East-West Management Institute.

In Albania, the Justice for All (JFA) project is training the next generation of journalists, including Alba Hosko and Dea Kodra, who are 13 years old. Alba and Dea recently became the youngest journalists to attend a Justice for All media workshop in Albania. JFA is a USAID-funded, 5-year project focused on strengthening justice and accountability and implemented by East-West Management Institute (EWMI). IREX partners with EWMI to bring investigative media training, mentorship, and support to reporters around the country.

“Being a journalist feels amazing,” said Alba. “You get to know news stories every day, meet and talk to different people, and... [learn about] what’s happening in the city.”

Learning about journalism and information literacy

When the two teens heard that training on investigative reporting and digital journalism was available, they seized the opportunity. They are the youngest reporters in Gjirokastër, an historic city located in southern Albania. Alba and Dea are part of a team of seven young reporters contributing to the quarterly youth newspaper Xina, published with the support of Gjirokastër municipality.

“We have been engaged in this project for four months now, and we have been trained in reporting skills by local journalists,” Dea said. Their mentor is Engjell Serjani, an experienced journalist from Gjirokastër. He encouraged them to attend the training, and he is guiding them in pursuing cultural and social stories.

Two journalism students with a mentor, who is reviewing their work at a table

The Xina team has been trained on media and information literacy as well as basic journalism. The workshop was designed as an introduction to digital journalism with a focus on smartphones and the opportunities they present for producers and consumers of quality journalism. Alba and Dea are incorporating these skills in their stories for the newspaper.

“Contributing to a new generation of journalists is a precious experience,” Serjani said. “It paves the way to a responsible way of reporting and ensures continuation of journalistic coverage of local communities in cities such as Gjirokastër.”

Developing valuable professional skills   

Michael Alexander, an investigative media advisor at IREX who works on the JFA program, led the workshop.

“These two young reporters played a full part in the training with the active encouragement of the other journalists,” he said. “The work they produced in framing interviews using a smartphone with appropriate backgrounds was as good as any of the participants’ work... including the professional camera operators.”

Two journalism students reading their story in the Xina newspaper

The young reporters are eager to play their part in the development of Albania’s media. “We would like to pursue education on this topic and to be trained as professional journalists,” Dea said.

IREX is planning further support for young journalists throughout Albania with training and mentorship in photography, video production, and storytelling through the JFA program.

The Justice for All (JFA) project is a 5-year project funded by USAID and implemented by East-West Management Institute. The project focuses on reforming and strengthening Albania’s judiciary and increasing public access to judicial data. IREX implements activities in investigative journalism and court-reporting to support the public’s demand for fact-based information.