Journalism experts have slammed a European news service’s “outrageous” and “shallow” decision to have a scantily-clad anchorwoman to present its bulletins.
Albanian-based Zjarr TV presents the daily news headlines like any other channel, but in stark contrast to most other bulletins across the world, 24-year-old presenter Greta Hoxhaj appears wearing a blazer with nothing underneath.
It was a controversial move in the conservative nation, but seemed to have paid off since it was introduced last year.
“In Albania, where the news is manipulated by political powers, the audience needed a medium that would present the information like it is — naked,” Zjarr TV owner Ismet Drishti told AFP.
“We don’t sell sex, we reproduce the news as it is. It’s both symbolic and good publicity.”
Since appearing as a semi-clothed presenter, Ms Hoxha claimed she’d been offered a job by an Australian network.
She had not yet decided whether to accept the position.
Sir Walter Murdoch Professor of Cultural Policy Studies at Murdoch University, Professor Toby Miller, said monetisation of the media presented a fundamental problem between the costly production of news and maintaining an audience.
“The fundamental problem for news is that what was once seen as a public-interest obligation is now regarded as a potential profit centre,” Prof Miller told The New Daily.
Queensland University of Technology senior lecturer in journalism Dr Angela Romano said the stunt was ultimately a poor choice for the station’s credibility.
“It is an attempt by the station to grab attention through activities that are seen as more socially outrageous,” Dr Romano told The New Daily.
“It is a relatively shallow approach and if they’re going to use such strategies they might as well shift more generally to entertainment rather than pretend to present news.”
‘Nudity cannot resolve the crisis in the media’
Whether the topless newsreaders would continue to attract an audience was unclear – it has proved in the past to be a hapless pursuit.
Live TV, a UK show broadcast in the 1990s, featured women stripping as they read the weather bulletin, but failed “because it was essentially a cable station that was watched very occasionally for laughs”, Prof Miller said.
“These stunts—as you rightly term them—may in certain instances lead to ratings jumps,” he said.
“I have no idea whether that is sustainable in this case, or which advertisers will wish to associate themselves with the practice.
“That will be a determining factor, and feeding into that will be, for example, responses from religious and womens’ organisations.”
So far, there had been little reaction from Albanian feminist organisations and journalist groups, although Aleksander Cipa, President of the Union of Albanian Journalists, said ultimately, more was needed to revive the media.
“Nudity cannot resolve the crisis in the media, which will serve anything to the public to survive,” he said.
Ms Hoxhaj, the anchwoman at the centre of the debate, said she had no qualms about the station’s new approach to news.
“I worked hard for five years in local television where I remained unnoticed,” she said.
“I regret nothing … I had the courage to do what I do and now I’m a star.”
– with reporting by Anthony Colangelo