The Albanian Union of Journalists has condemned cuts of 42 staffers, including 26 editors and journalists, at the Albanian Telegraphic News Agency, ATA.
Besar Likmeta BIRN Tirana
The cuts amount to half of the ATA staff of 80 employees in total.
The union said the cuts worsened an already dismal situation in the media where all too many journalists go without pay for months.
“This wave of staff cuts is the biggest that has ever happened in the Albanian public media and similar cuts are expected in the next few months in the public broadcaster TVSH and its local affiliates,” the union said.
“This drastic measure of layoffs leaves on the street journalists who for decades or years have invested in the profession of journalism and who know find themselves without any economic safety net,” it added.
The union said the drastic cuts at the ATA were not based on professional merit and standards, while the agency was not respecting the labour code.
A country of only 2.8 million residents, Albania supports 25 daily newspapers, more than 100 TV channels, 36 monthly magazines and 69 quarterly publications.
According to the Albanian Union of Journalists, 90 per cent of the private media are late in paying their staff salaries by between two and six months.
The Freedom House media freedom index ranks Albania’s media as partly free, underlining that many outlets often “display a strong political bias, and their reporting is influenced by the economic or political interests of their owners”.