The media practice in Kosovo is determined by the existence of mainly Prishtina-based powerful private television stations, several politicized dailies with a total circulation of around 30.000, and a public broadcaster that is effectively controlled by the Government. Being a journalist in Kosovo is often considered as a transitory phase before getting to the real power.
Public polls (UNDP Public Pulse project) show that Kosovo’s population has little trust in democratic institutions, including media, with the majority believing that Kosovo media does not enjoy freedom of expression. The coverage of the local elections of 2013, following the April 2013 agreement among Kosovo and Serbia, was done exclusively in ethnic lines. Media did not inform the public accurately and did not cover the local dimension of the political agreement. Independent media is a rarity in Kosovo, and even more so for critical media operating outside Prishtina.
This project focused on two main aspects of the problem:
-News from/about the regions – strengthening of regional media
The last decade saw the birth of several local radio stations, but not of local newspapers. Evidence shows that national and local radios tend to be less sensational and more mature than television and online portals. An audience research carried out by KMI few years ago has also shown that local radios have a significantly larger share of audience in comparison to national radio (69.76% compared to 33.54%). However, the number of stations and their popularity does not translate into a meaningful quantity and quality of information provided to local communities: regional media is staffed with untrained journalists, and re-broadcasting and copying from other media is a common practise.
-A paradigm shift – from eminence-based to evidence-based journalism
Kosovo lacks a strong critical media, which would not rely on the Government or political parties for funding or support. Most outlets focus mostly on covering press conferences, pre-arranged media events and breaking news, rather than embarking on difficult investigative reports targeting corruption and providing detailed analysis. This is due to many media organisations’ reluctance to take on powerful individuals, as well as a lack of resources and skills.
Thankfully, the media sector has also seen the growth and development of a number of promising initiatives during the last few years:
Primarily an online platform that pulses with voices unfettered and unafraid. Interactive blogs, articles and multimedia bring the untold stories Kosovo in the open, giving voice to the country’s silenced, disfranchised majority: young people. Kosovo 2.0 also publishes a thematic biannual print magazine. Kosovo 2.0 reports in three languages Albanian, Serbian and English.
Kosovo Center for Investigative Journalism (KCIJ)
An initiative of the Organization for Democracy, Anticorruption and Dignity – ÇOHU. KCIJ was born out of discontent with the level of investigative journalism in Kosovo, bringing evidence and analysis about sensitive issues such as abuse of political power and corruption. It produces the bi-monthly PretPortr investigative report. KCIJ has its own website where all the research is published and also cooperates with daily newspapers Koha Ditore and Zëri, where Preportr issues are published.
INC – Local Radio Network
10 stations operating throughout Kosovo. It includes Albanian, Serbian and one Romani language stations. INC is an initiative of Urban FM radio.
Institute for Policy and Development (INDEP)
A think tank and an advocacy center that provides independent research-based policy solutions, focusing on strengthening democratic governance and playing the role of public policy watchdog.
The project put into practice the recommendations of earlier evaluations of practices, which had pointed to the need for intense cooperation among all partners.