Regional Report: Media Literacy and Education Needs of Journalists and the Public in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia

The research published by SEE Media Partnership for Media Development in March 2017 aims to provide an up-to-date environmental analysis of the journalism education and media literacy programs available in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

It provides real world data and information on education needs in journalism and for the general public, as well as an overview of the environmental factors at the basis of media literacy.

This research observes existing practices, formal state policies, civil society initiatives, and the interaction of media industry with other stakeholders.

The media landscape in the Western Balkans is influenced by three main drivers – political changes, digital age, the need for complex knowledge, and economic/business limitations. Both media and educational systems in all researched countries struggle to keep up with technology advancements, with the higher expectation of audiences for new tools, features, formats, speed, and with the overall change in understanding quality journalism.

Media and state education institutions have found themselves in a situation of restricted budgets and higher requirements towards quality of services. With their own country specifics, all countries faced political turmoils, changes which shape political culture and influence education systems and the relationships between media and politics.

Key insights of the research:

• Level of knowledge and training of teachers/professors lags behind or is non-existent both in ICT and in media
literacy.
• Diverse backgrounds of teachers/professors, rarely with any practice in journalism, and not in possession of a
degree in journalism.
• State and private universities have been offering journalism degrees in the past decade, however there is a trend in
the recent year of universites either closing, or transforming journalism programs into communications and public
relations programs.
• Journalism education, as every other discipline in education, is in a need of reforms, improvement of processes and
addressing the gap between education and business.
• Numerous industry and professional associations exist throughout the region, however they seem not to be leading
the changes and improvements in the media industry, as the majority are not active or act sporadically. Professional
organisations are not strong and do not power any major initiatives across all researched countries.
• There is no structured and comprehensive information about journalism education, quality levels, as there is no
authority across all countries which collects data about the progress of journalism stutents in the sector and their
advancement in career.
• Holding a degree in journalism is not essential for applying and finding a job in the media sector.
• Professional qualification/journalism degree is not a driver for career growth. No journalists’ career paths or
developed competency models were found.
• No evidence is found about the existence of a direct correlation between education (degree hold) and positions in
newsrooms hierarchy.
• There is major dissatisfaction of media owners and editors with the knowledge and skills obtained in universities.
• Media sector companies call for better programs, mirroring the industry changed requirements towards knowledge
and practical skills, in the light of digitalisation and changed consumer/audience information consumption patterns.
Newsrooms seek journalists with practical know-how and general education.
• Cooperation between media sector and universities/education institutions is an individual effort, rather than an
established, sustainable system of partnership.
• Very often, journalists and editors face obstacles in applying best journalism standards, principles, and knowledge
gained through workshops, qualifications, courses and formal education, because of media dependence on a variety
of interests – political (pro and anti-government), business, commercial etc.
• Education institutions (universities, schools) are chronically under budgeted to allow for high-profile guest lectors,
equipment and practical trainings.

Download the report here


SEE Partnership for Media Development is implemented by a consortium of media organizations from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania.

The Project is co-financed by the European Commission, the Civil Society Facility, Media Freedom and Accountability Programme, Europe Aid/134613/C/ACT/MULTI

The SEENPM members that are part of the project: Albanian Media Institute, Mediacenter for Media and Civil Society Development (BiH), Media Initiatives – Association for Media Development and Promotion of Professional Journalism (BiH), Macedonian Institute for Media (Macedonia), Montenegro Media Institute (Montenegro), Media Center (Serbia), Media and Reform Centre Nis (Serbia), Media Development Center (Bulgaria).

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