Armela Krasniqi, Director General of ATA

Armela Krasniqi (ATA Director General): The future of media, and that of news agencies in particular, concerns its credibility, as the main challenge

Armela Krasniqi (ATA Director General), considers that news agencies showed that they are perhaps the only trustworthy source of information during the pandemic. The national news agency of Albania became the top source of information about the coronavirus in the country, according to its director general, fact proven by a significant increase in the number of visitors to its Albanian, English and French services.

How did ATA face the Covid-19 pandemic? What were the special measures taken?

The COVID-19 pandemic that the whole world is still coping with, in addition to the multiple problems it triggered, was an extraordinary challenge to the news agencies, including ATA. I am convinced and at the same time proud to say that ATA has faced this challenge and is successfully dealing with it, thanks to the measures taken since the beginning of this pandemic outbreak.

ATA confirmed once more it was the first to provide reliable information. It drew solely on official information, with the sole purpose of preventing panic in public opinion. This was also the key to ATA's success.

ATA dealt with this challenge by relying on two platforms: the first was intended to protect its staff from the pandemic and the second to design a clear, serious, practical and viable plan for broadcasting news related to events.

As soon as the Albanian government published the adjusted work practice for administration, ATA decided that most of its staff would work from home, while a very small part would work in the office and on the ground based on job rotation.

For the latter, we made sure to provide the necessary infrastructure in addition to stringent hygiene measures such as the use of disinfectants, gloves and masks.

Albania was not so hard hit by the novel coronavirus. How does the Albanian media foresee the future? Is the impact on the media high?

The limited spread of COVID-19 pandemic in Albania is due to the fact that the Albanian government was among the first in the world to put in place strict lockdown measures in the first days of the virus outbreak in Albania.

It strictly banned the senior citizens and children, as the most vulnerable part of this pandemic, from getting out, set movement schedules for the rest of the population to meet essential needs, while at weekends imposed lockdown for all the citizens. It banned public, sports, cultural events and even participation in festive or funeral ceremonies.

The future of Albanian media will change a lot as a result of this pandemic. The almost total lockdown in Albania resulted in the print media experiencing difficult days, while the online media saw a real boom as a result of the growing public interest to check the news about this global phenomenon.

This pandemic showed that the influence of the media is crucial in shaping public opinion, especially if we consider that in the media market there are, unfortunately, media outlets that speculate and others that produce conspiracy theories having certain impact on people.

What is the importance of a state news agency during crisis like the one we all crossed during the past months?

It is precisely what I said a little above, I think, as time has proven, the role of news agencies in such situations is irreplaceable. Big crisis require big and bold solutions.

It is based on the fundamental element in the work of an agency: the truth and nothing but the truth prevails over everything else in the goal that an agency has set for itself. Time proved that ATA, day by day, has come to be regarded as Albania's most reliable source of news about the pandemic.

The entire amount of information produced by ATA was completely fact-based, obtained through official sources and double checked in detail. Data shows that ATA saw a significant increase in the number of visitors to its Albanian, English and French services.

During this pandemic, ATA has been quoted by most of the Albanian media outlets as well as by a significant part of the foreign media.

ATA broadened its range of news items by broadcasting general information or life stories about people infected with COVID-19. An important part of its product was dedicated to the tireless work and sacrifices of COVID hospital doctors as well as the advice of medicine experts for public opinion, especially epidemiologists.

How do you see the future of media and especially that of news agencies in 2021 and after?

The future of media, and that of news agencies in particular, concerns its credibility, as the main challenge, but also the most difficult to address.

Fortunately, during this extraordinary period not only for the media, the news agencies showed that they are perhaps the only trustworthy source of information. Their noble mission, the truth and only the truth, will be the strongest weapon in the future as well.

Their unbiased stand and information double checked with independent sources strengthen the credibility of news agencies. By abiding to these principles, they will become more relevant compared to other competitors in the media market.

This crisis brought to the forefront the importance of news agencies. News agencies are a big window to the truth. Fake news, misinformation and escalating conspiracy theories are just some of the reasons why news agencies should cling to the truth. Only in this way will they win this battle and then feel proud of fulfilling their mission that derives from one of the fundamental human rights, the right to information. 

Interview by Alexandru Giboi (EANA Secretary General) for the "EANA Top Voices" project.