PRISHTINA – As part of the final stage of the training and mentoring program “Peace Broadcasters: Empowering the young journalists as peace reporters”, implemented by the RYCO Local Branch Office (LBO) in Kosovo in partnership with the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, LBO in Kosovo in cooperation with Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK) organized last week a closing event of the 1 st piloting cycle of Peace Broadcasters and the launching of the 2 nd cycle of the same program.
Besides acknowledging the efforts that the young journalists made in helping build a society that moves forward in the future by recognizing the past, this event aimed to be a platform of open discussion between journalists and key stakeholders on the role of media in reconciling divided societies. The panel discussion consisted of Krenare Gashi Krasniqi, Head of the Local Branch Office in Kosovo; Xhemajl Rexha, Chairman of Association of Journalists of Kosovo; Dane Koruga, Chief of Media and Deputy Director of the Democratization Department within the OSCE Mission in Kosovo; Adelheid Feilcke, Director of Programs for Europe in Deutsche Welle and Dren Gërguri, Professor of Journalism at the University of Prishtina, and Expert on Fake News and Fact-checking.
The panellists as well as the young journalists in the audience emphasized the importance of unbiased reporting as a prerequisite to dealing with the past and achieving cooperation between divided societies in Kosovo and the region.
“There is no important process that has been successfully developed without the support of the media, so, their involvement in the process of reconciliation and peace building in Kosovo is not only necessary but also imperative. And RYCO has no choice but to play its primary role as a bridge between those who have something to offer and contribute to the process of reconciliation and the society, a society that has never more than now need to be well informed, especially when it comes to sensitive topics such as dealing with the past. Therefore, I am very happy that we have gathered forces together with all the key actors in the field of media, namely, AJK, DW, and OSCE Mission in Kosovo to make this program substantial and successful,” said Ms. Gashi Kraniqi.
Mr. Koruga, on the other hand, put the emphasis on media literacy. He considers that the focus should not only be on training journalists but also educating the society at large to whom the information is being served to.
“Nationalism is used to emotionally trigger and affect the audience. Journalism must be above nationality when reporting,” said Mr. Rexha.
Comparisons with Germany where drawn when it comes to dealing with the past as a step on achieving intercultural cooperation and successful reconciliation process between peoples.
“In Germany, dealing with the past has helped us a lot. The same should happen in the Western Balkans. If we do not deal with the past, we cannot move forward in the future,” said Adelheid Feilcke.
During the event, a ceremony of awarding was held for the first three prizes for best articles produced by young journalists during the 1 st cycle of the Peace Broadcasters’ programme. Peace Broadcasters programme brought together 20 young journalists from Kosovo in order to tackle the topics of Intercultural Dialogue, Dealing with the Past, and Transitional Journalism. The young journalists had the chance to learn about these topics that were little or not exposed to before. Under the mentorship of experts, the participants address the topics in the form of written articles. This task encouraged them to research deeper and help them increase their awareness in the context of intercultural dialogue and the role of media in dealing with the past.
In its 2 nd cycle RYCO Local Branch Office (LBO) will join forces with the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, OSCE Mission in Kosovo and Deutsche Welle in order to train a number of young journalists in the topics of Intercultural Dialogue, Dealing with the Past, Fact-checking and Constructive Journalism. The program aims to also enhance young journalists’ understanding of regional cooperation.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.