As of the 2011 census, the population in Kosovo stood at 1,773,971, while the next census scheduled for 2021, has been postponed for 2023-2024 due to the pandemic.

Language diversity is a defining feature of Kosovo's society and media landscape. According to the legal framework, Kosovo officially recognizes Albanian and Serbian, each with its alphabet, as official languages. Additionally, other languages can attain official status at the municipal level if the respective linguistic community constitutes at least 5% of the total municipal population. Turkish holds a unique official language status in the Prizren municipality, irrespective of its local community size. Smaller linguistic communities representing 3-5% of the municipal population can have their languages acknowledged as "languages in official use" at the municipal level, allowing individuals to request services and documents in those languages. This linguistic diversity influences media outlets and their target audiences.

Albanians form the majority ethnic composition at 92.9%. Other ethnic groups include Bosniaks (1.6%), Serbs (1.5%), Turks (1.1%), Ashkali (0.9%), Egyptians (0.7%), Gorani (0.6%), Romani (0.5%), and other/unspecified (0.2%). The presence of various ethnic communities contributes to a multifaceted media landscape, where different communities have media outlets in their respective languages.

Religion plays a significant role in Kosovo, with the majority of the population identifying as Muslim (95.6%). There are also Roman Catholics (2.2%), Orthodox Christians (1.5%), and smaller religious affiliations (0.1%). Kosovo's urban-rural divide is notable, with 38% of the population residing in urban areas and 62% in rural settings, according to the 2011 census.

Literacy and Numeracy Rates

Approximately 80% of 7 to 14-year-olds can read accurately, and 88% can recognize numbers. However, the troubling reality is that less than 50% of students maintain Grade 2 level skills in foundational literacy (41%) and numeracy (42%). The situation becomes even more concerning when examining specific demographics. For children from Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian backgrounds, these rates plummet to 18% for literacy and 13% for numeracy.

These disparities in literacy and numeracy rates can significantly affect media consumption patterns. Individuals with higher literacy and numeracy skills are more likely to engage with diverse media sources and critically assess information. Conversely, low literacy rates can limit access to written media, which relies heavily on text-based content.

Kosovo's education system consists of distinct levels:

  • Pre-primary Education: Level 01 covers children aged 0 to 3 years, while Level 02 focuses on ages 4 to 6 years. Pre-primary education is vital for early cognitive development.

  • Compulsory Education: This includes primary education (grades 1-5) and lower secondary education (grades 6-9). It is essential for building foundational skills.

    • Primary Education: Lasting five years (ages 6 to 10), primary education provides fundamental knowledge.

    • Lower Secondary Education: Spanning grades 6 to 9 (ages 11 to 14), it prepares students for further studies.

    • Upper Secondary Education (Level 3): This level, with specialized profiles, is offered in public and licensed schools. Gymnasiums focus on various subjects, while vocational schools offer practical skills training.

      Media Literacy

    In Kosovo, citizens' media literacy faces challenges, with limited awareness of information disorders. The education system's preparedness is rated at 2.9 (scale 1-5).This is also supported by anecdotal insights gathered from media reports and citizens' interactions with news on social media, which suggest a shortfall in the essential abilities of critical thinking and technological proficiency required for efficient information access, evaluation, and interpretation. This deficiency directly influences the way news is consumed. Approximately 82% believe that websites and portals often or sometimes publish false stories. While 57% engage in fact-checking, there's a rise in those who don't (41% compared to 36% previously).

    This vulnerability to misinformation is evident, with around 40% accepting COVID-19 misinformation and up to a third embracing distorted political narratives. Russian-originated false narratives influence as many as 20% of citizens. These trends highlight the urgent need for comprehensive media literacy programs to enhance critical thinking skills and foster a more discerning and informed media landscape in Kosovo.

    There is a varying degree of respect for different journalists and media outlets in Kosovo. Kosovo has reputable TV stations and a growing number of news portals that deliver news promptly. TV stations are widely regarded as highly trustworthy information sources by a significant majority of Kosovo's population, totaling 74% overall. However, the concern lies in the reliability of online platforms, as their pursuit of wider audiences and quick news delivery can compromise information quality. Online media often may not meet professional standards, leading to a mix of benefits for citizens along with the risk of encountering misinformation.

    Social media platforms are a source of information for youth, with 48% from the Albanian community receiving information from social media on a daily basis and 24% from the Serbian community.  Social media is the second most trusted source of information for youth in Kosovo.

    The media environment in Kosovo is segmented based on ethnicity. The Serbian-speaking community predominantly relies on media from Belgrade, while Albanian-speaking residents primarily access news from local sources within Kosovo, in the Albanian language. Consequently, trust in media sources is confined to each community's respective language.

    Safety of Journalists

    In Kosovo, journalism enjoys societal respect, but the realm of independent media and investigative journalism grapples with persistent challenges. Online abuse and baseless allegations, such as "collaborating with the enemy," fueled by political and religious factions, underscore the complex media landscape.

    Despite journalism being a respected profession in Kosovo, independent media and investigative journalists frequently face online abuse and unfounded allegations of "collaborating with the enemy," perpetuated by political and religious factions. The safety of journalists has been a growing concern in recent years.

    In 2022, Kosovo saw a surge in attacks on journalists and media professionals, totaling 33 recorded cases. These incidents encompassed verbal and physical assaults, smear campaigns, and hate speech targeting both individuals and media outlets. Of particular concern is the involvement of individuals in influential political positions in perpetrating these attacks.

    In 2023, the situation escalated further with 57 cases recorded between January and August.. In the aftermath of extraordinary local elections in municipalities with ethnically Serb majorities, which were boycotted by Serb residents, tensions escalated when newly-elected Albanian mayors attempted to take office. Kosovo Police accompanied them, leading to protests that were met with tear gas and dispersal by NATO-led Kosovo Force peacekeeping troops (KFOR). May 2023 witnessed a troubling series of incidents involving attacks on journalists and media outlets, with 20 recorded cases. These ranged from physical assaults and vandalism of media vehicles and equipment to attempts to obstruct live reporting, often accompanied by slogans linked to political or ethnic unity. These developments underscore the ongoing challenges facing journalists and media in Kosovo, particularly in ethnically sensitive regions.

  • Project by
    Global Media Registry
    Funded by European Union