Free Press Unlimited hosts training for partners in Kosovo to boost viability

Training for partners in Kosovo
Image credit
Ajdin Kamber

On May 21-22, 2024, Free Press Unlimited organised a pivotal training session on membership strategies in Prishtina, Kosovo, for its partners - 13 representatives from journalists’ associations from the Western Balkans.

The training was designed to boost the organisations’ resilience in view of democratic backsliding and threats to independent reporting, by equiping these organisations with essential skills to retain current members, increase membership, involve members in policy-making.

In the last few years, Western Balkan countries have faced a concerning setback marked by a decline in media freedom. Journalists often face direct threats and intimidation, a stifling of independent voices, a limited access to information, leading to high rates of self-censorship. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated this situation, spreading disinformation and fueling a climate of distrust toward the media.

Importance of memberships

Skills in increasing membership and boosting resilience are crucial to counter these challenges because strong and active membership bases provide journalists' associations with greater legitimacy, resources, and collective power. This enhanced capacity is vital in resisting threats by ensuring sustainable operations through member support and funding. This creates a robust network of professionals who can advocate for press freedom and support each other in times of need, enabling active participation in policy-making, which helps influence laws and regulations in favour of press freedom, and enhancing the ability to mobilise quickly in response to threats against journalists and independent media. 

The participants of the training in Kosovo
Photo: Ajdin Kamber

Leading the sessions was Becky Wright, a consultant from Unions21, known for her expertise in strengthening member-based organisations and unions. With her guidance, participants dove into techniques for building membership bases and engaging and recruiting volunteers.

According to Mrs Wright, for the training to be successful, organisations need to focus on four main pillars of work: recruitment and retention of membership, supporting and developing activism, audience engagement and dialogue, and lastly collective wins, which involves campaigning, representation and negotiations. 

Over the next few months, participants will continue with online coaching, culminating in a final in-person training session scheduled for September. 

*The initiative is funded by the MATRA Rule of Law programme of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and implemented by Free Press Unlimited and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee in cooperation with regional partners: BH Journalist Association, the Association of Journalists Macedonia and the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia. 

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