January 15, 2024

In the digital era that we live in, what we read, and see, every day on our smartphones and laptops, affects our thinking. Social media tends to be contaminated with hate speech and damaging narratives. The impact of journalism is well-known, and therefore encouraging journalists to counter hate speech is critical.

The "Young Journalists" project is an inspiring initiative of young people who are committed to fighting hate speech through positive and historical perspectives with human narratives. This project encourages young journalists to address important life issues in a fresh and creative way. This initiative is part of the joint-UN regional initiative “Youth for Inclusion, Equality and Trust”, supported by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, implemented in Kosovo by UNDP and UNFPA.

Eight journalists from Kosovo, from different ethnic backgrounds, Erlinë Koca, Bleona Thaqi, Bilijana Vlaskovic, Emilija Stanojevic, Jasir Misini, Fatjona Rudi, Etrit Rexhepi and Laureta Sopa, became part of the project to contribute as individuals in fighting hate speech and divisive narratives. Five of these journalists are Albanian, two are Serbs and one is from the Roma community.

All of them have shared stories, featuring religious tolerance and youth as agents of change, regardless of gender and ethnicity, that have impacted society through positive storytelling. Each one of these journalists worked for different local media and they published stories against hate speech and misinformation while reaching a wide array of audiences.

Erlinë Koca passionately stresses religious tolerance and harmony in combating hate speech. She says that religious coexistence should be present at every moment.