Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Debates about media ethics in Albania

By Gjergj Erebara in Tirana

When Mr. Dritan Hoxha, 40, president of Top Media, the most important media group in Albania, lost his life in a car accident, when his Ferrari Fiorino crashed against a tree, many praised him for his courage as entrepreneur. Many, including its competitors, heads of political parties, President of the Republic Nr. Bamir Topi and common peoples, praised him. Together with him, a 28 years old girl lost her life in the same accident.

Top Channel, the biggest TV-station in the country, declared three days of mourning for the death of its. A very long applause accompanied funeral cortege of Mr. Hoxha in the main streets of Tirana. It was perhaps the most popular funeral that Tirana had seen since the death of communist dictator Enver Hoxha. But in the case of the dictator, peoples were obliged to participate actively in his funeral. In the case of Mr. Dritan Hoxha, no one was obliged. Personally, I think that Tani, - as his employers called him, - deserved that ceremony. Peoples dropped white roses. Some of his journalists, (including the head of opposition Mr. Edi Rama), had cried. This situation deserves a serious sociologic study. Common Albanians were emotionally affected by the death of a businessman. I am not sure if they will pay respect to a politician in the same way. Or, I am not sure if they will respect a writer of an artist in the same way.

But some Albanians have not liked that spectacle. In web forums and in some newspapers, peoples complained why a part of the media, including Top Channel, hided the death of Entela Hyska, the companion of Mr. Hoxha in the accident. One of those who complained was the Prime Minister Sali Berisha itself. In the condolences letter, Mr. Berisha spooked for two victims. Some days latter, Mr. Berisha’s spokesman Gerti Bogdani, denounced publicly in the name of Democratic Party that media had ignored the death of Mrs. Hyska, to preserve the honor of Mr. Dritan Hoxha. The official newspaper of DP, had gone to interview the mother of the second victim to make more credible their declaration again journalists. Around 120 journalists signed yesterday a declaration condemning Mr. Berisha’s critics as an aggression against free media. All this created a complex situation.

A strange situation

I am not sure if Mr. Berisha and his newspaper fully understand the meaning of ethics. Personally, I think that was right to respect the privacy of Mrs. Hyska. Newspapers and some of journalists, who had signed that declaration against government, are not fully innocent. Media in Albania had never resisted to gossip news and had violated many times privacy of common peoples. But Mr. Berisha itself is that kind of journalist who violates the privacy of others. Some weeks ago, his official newspaper wrote about a journalist “he is sexually impotent”. So, I cannot believe that Mr. Berisha care about Mrs. Hyska.

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