April 1st is celebrated as the Fool’s Day, however Faktoje organized on this very day the conference conveying the message “Don’t be fooled!” Prove it too”. The meeting was attended by the Netherlands Ambassador in Albania, Mr. Reinout Vos, representatives of the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Public Information Media, Mr. Besnik Dervishi – Information and Data Protection Commissioner, both internal and external  journalists and media experts, representatives of civil society, who discussed the importance and challenges related to fact-checking in Albania.

In her speech in front of the audience, the Executive Director of Faktoje.al, Mr. Klodiana Kapo provided real figures related to the statements verified by the staff and the number of those statements accomplished by public officials.

“Faktoje celebrates for the first time the International Fact-Checking Day which is celebrated by similar fact-checking organizations in 60 other countries around the world. In 15 months, Faktoje team has verified 260 statements and promises. Out of 116 verified promises, 110 are unfulfilled.

And, out of 144, only 24 statements are true. I know that such figures do not really surprise you; you will probably be surprised by our diligence of verifying politicians’ statements and promises on issues affecting our lives and our children lives. There are promises repeatedly made 3-4 times in a row and have not been fulfilled yet. Why are we needed in this huge market? I will quote my colleague Fatos Baxhaku, who would be part of Faktoje’s journey.

Baxhaku wrote that news checking against as many sources as possible is one of the universal parameters of our work. Unfortunately, there are many cases in our country when news, statements or attitudes are not checked, but taken as they are, and such positions not only take us away from the truth, but also increase the risk of manipulation of the press by well-thought sources. “This is the mission of Faktoje, i.e., to verify beyond and to remind politicians that yes, we listen to them, yes we take their statements and promises seriously and we are here to make transparency and inform”, said Mrs. Klodiana Kapo.

The Ambassador of the Netherlands in Albania, Mr. Reinout Vos, who attended this conference, stated the importance of fact-checking at information “booming” times. According to him, the qualitative journalism is a feature of a free and democratic society.

I’m honoured to be here. When I started my diplomatic career, I remember a diplomat telling me that there is a lot of information nowadays. But, how can we manage it?

We have to fight, Faktoje has to fight, Albania has to fight, the Netherlands has to fight for the truth, because we simultaneously have more access to information and to disinformation than ever before. This is the issue and I’m happy that Faktoje is here! ” ,  he stated.

As for Mr. Besnik Dervishi, Information and Data Protection Commissioner, Faktoje represents an example of how to use the right to information.

“We have extremely appreciated our participation here today, because Faktoje.al is one of the most active groups of the recent years and we can tell that it has properly used the right to information consolidating it for the provision of transparency firstly to the service of citizens, but also to the obligation of public authorities that through pro-active transparency aim to increase their standard of services. Most significantly and essentially is that since 2014 we adopted a very advanced and an extremely ambitious legislation on the right to information, which is ranked 5th or 6th in the world since 2015, while Albania, having the old law on the right to information was ranked the 86th. In order to support this, the Office of the Commissioner has been strengthened with the relevant structure for the right to information, and despite the structural difficulties I think that today we have an established structure, which has modestly given its contribution by handling on average over 1 thousand complaints per year”, said Mr. Dervishi.

The socialist MP, Mr. Petro Koçi, in his speech at this conference said, among others, that Faktoje.al is a champion of truth.

“Fact-checking is a matter of great interest and politics is not the only one stakeholder here to be held accountable for. Politics in our society serves mostly as an alibi, despite the fact that it is the main culprit of the problems that society and institutions have in this country. I think that the citizens are entitled to the right to be informed, the media is entitled to the right to inform and to be informed, and the institutions are entitled to the right to inform. If we had a healthy media, things would go better. As long as media owners shall have the freedom to enter public tenders, to benefit from public finances, I do not believe we will ever have free media. And, as long as we do not have a free media, they will hardly ever meet Faktoje.al or any other organization or structure in order for to be more optimistic” – argued Mr. Koçi.

On the other hand, the Democratic MP, Mrs. Ina Zhupa showed concrete examples of how she referred to Faktoje data on waste management in Durrës, revealing valuable information.

“Faktoje.al is one of the only media institutions receiving the institutions’ responses in an official way and it further puts those official materials on its website in the same way, i.e., being safe in the information they provide as you can even use them for other criminal or civil matters. “I have used it in an investigative commission on incinerators”, said Zhupa.

Faktoje’s findings

Over the last 15 months, in fulfilment of our mission, we have verified 260 statements and promises of public officials. From the classification made according to our methodology expressed through the factometer, it turns out that:

19 statements are True,

53 are False,

24 Half True

48 statements are classified as Uncategorised.

Faktoje has verified 116 promises, out of which:

6 promises have been fulfilled

110 unfulfilled.

Based on our communication experience with institutions and pursuant to what the Law on the Right to Information assures, the following institutions turned out to have a less transparent approach and don’t adhere to the law: Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Reconstruction, Ministry of Health and Social Protection, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice.

“Fatos Baxhaku” Award

A very important component of the conference held on April 1 was the awarding ceremony for the National Competition of the best Fact-Checked articles.

In the framework of the project “Strengthening Fact-Checking journalism in Albania” supported by MATRA program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Faktoje opened the call for articles based on facts and data.

 

The first award bears the name of the prominent journalist for his integrity and for the kneading of future generations of journalists, Fatos Baxhaku.

The Jury was composed of professional journalists and experts: Erjon Tase, Besar Likmeta and Elira Çanga who selected the 4 best articles among the 10 published in Faktoje.

1- The first award “Fatos Baxhaku” was awarded to journalist Anila Prifti for the article entitled:

Did Himara become the model of environmental maintenance as promised by Prime Minister Rama?

2- The second award was awarded to the journalist Raimond Kola for the article entitled:

The broken promise of water supply utility and irreparable damage of the Gjirokastra historic centre

3- The third award was handed over to journalist Voltiza Duro for the article entitled:

The Miner Status, an unfulfilled promise of Rama government

4- The Encouragement Award was awarded to Albina Hoxhaj for the article entitled:

Where is the project for the Shëngjin tourist port promised before the April 25 elections?

During the last week of March only, Faktoje has trained approximately 150 journalism students in Tirana, Shkodra, Elbasan by the media expert and the Dutch journalist Mr. Frits van Exter.

Transparency and facts are vital nowadays and that’s why the new generation of journalists should be as professional as possible in accomplishing this mission.

Faktoje, the only fact-checking media centre in Albania celebrates on April 1st the International Fact-Checking Day.