During Albania’s half-a-century long communist regime, from 1945 to 1991, the press was tightly controlled by the ruling party and its affiliated trade unions. In this period 8 national and 27 regional newspapers were published. The main publications were the daily newspapers ‘Zeri i Popullit,’ [Voice of the People] and ‘Bashkimi’ [Unity], which were published six days a week. ‘Zeri i Popullit’ was the official publication of the Albania Labor Party and ‘Bashkimi’ the official publication of the Trade Unions of Albania. Most of these publications went down with the collapse of the communist regime in 1991, when restrictions on freedom of expression were lifted and the power structures that supported them collapsed. The first newspapers to be established after the pluralistic system of government was installed, was ‘Rilindja Demokratike [Democratic Revival],’ with the first issue hitting the stand on January 5th 1991, as the official newspaper of the then newly-created opposition Democratic Party. The first independent newspaper ‘Koha Jone’ [Our Times] was soon to follow on May 11th 1991, founded by a journalist, Nikolle Lesi.
There is no official list of print media in the country, but various reports have put the number of print outlets at more than 200. There is no official data on press circulation but according to some reports the country’s best selling newspapers does not have a circulation greater than 20,000 copies per day, while most newspapers sell less than 1000 copies. According to data provided by IDRA media there are currently 18 daily newspapers in the market. There are several press distribution agencies, but three are the main ones. One of them belongs to the state-owned postal company ‘Posta Shqiptare’, while the other two, considered to be more efficient, belong to two major print media groups, ‘Shekulli’ and ‘Panorama.’ However, even these distribution networks do not cover the whole country, but mainly urban areas.
According to data provided by IDRA Media, the print advertising market from January to November 2017, was worth 361.8 million lek (€2.7 million). The print market has suffered a major loss of readers and advertisers in the last few years, mainly due to the advent of online media and 24 hour news television stations. The economic crisis that hit the country after the 2008 global downturn and an increased competition from the web, led to the closure of some newspapers, while others have migrated online or cut their staff. Most print media also have online platforms. The ones of national newspapers, Tema, Panorama and Shekulli are considered among the most popular online websites.
The sample of newspapers selected as part of this study was based on the circulation and readership data provided by Abacus Media Audience Research.