Albania's Live-Streaming Politicians Push Media Aside

Two weeks ahead of presidential elections in Albania, and with general elections looming in June, both the Socialist Prime Minister, Edi Rama, and the leader of the opposition Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha, are busy live streaming their meetings and messages via Facebook.

Rama has even launched ER TV, a personalized "web live streaming TV" on which he broadcasts his official meetings and TV appearances live.

On April 7, about 1 million of his Facebook followers could watch Rama's meetings live three times for a total of 127 minutes. Thousands watched and liked the videos.

"This is a communication tool without mediators. Your meditation [referring to journalists] in this media village often serves third parties," Rama said on April 7, explaining why he prefers this form of direct communication with the public to more conventional methods.

Lulzim Basha, head of the opposition centre-right Democratic Party, is doing exactly the same. He live streams every speech on Facebook that he makes in front of his tent, outside Rama's office, where his party has been staging a street protest since February 18.

The opposition party wants the Socialist Prime Minister to step down and allow the formation of technical government tasked solely with conducting what the Democrats call free and fair elections on June 18.

These live streams are feeding hundreds of online media with content that the party press officers send them.

While politicians are clearly thrilled with the possibility of talking direct to the voters, media experts are concerned about the way this trend is going.

"I find it very disturbing that the overwhelming majority of content in the media is the same as that distributed by the politicians on Facebook," Lutfi...

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