BIRN Albania in Call for Investigative Reports on Environment

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held a roundtable on environmental hotspots, bringing together journalists, civil society organisations and experts.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania launched a call for investigative stories on the theme of environmental hotspots on June 20.

The call forms part of the program “Fostering Transparency through Investigative Reporting”, supported by the Open Society Foundation in Albania, the Balkan Trust for Democracy and National Endowment for Democracy.

Three journalists will be awarded grants to cover their expenses while doing their investigations and writing their stories on organized crime.

The journalists will have about three months to dig deeper and research their ideas, and will also have the opportunity to work with experienced editors as mentors to guide them through the process of writing to BIRN standards.

The call only applies to journalists from Albania and closed on July 9th.

Click for more information (in Albanian) about the application procedure.

Click here (in Albanian) to download application.

Four Broadcasters Dominate Serbian Media, BIRN Shows

New research by BIRN and Reporters Without Borders highlights the extent to which the Serbian media space has become dominated by a handful of boadcasters and media companies.

The biggest threats to media pluralism in Serbia are the concentration of audience and political influence over the media, according to research conducted by BIRN and the German branch of Reporters Without Borders.

BIRN and Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday also presented the website http://serbia.mom-rsf.org/rs/, which contains the database with information about media ownership and audience shares.

According to the research, 62.35 per cent of the audience in Serbia is shared between four broadcasters that own seven channels.

These are the national broadcaster, RTS, and its regional subsidiary in Vojvodina, RTV, TV Pink, then TV Prva and B92, both owned by Antena Group, and TV Happy.

Television stations Pink and Happy are often accused of displaying pro-government bias.

A similar situation exists in print media, where 63.27 per cent of the audience is shared between the Ringier Axel Springer company, that publishes two daily tabloids, then Adria Media Group, that publishes the daily Kurir, Insajder Tim, which publishes the pro-government paper Informer, and Novosti, a company in which the state remains the largest individual shareholder.

According to BIRN Director Dragana Zarkovic Obradovic, the tabloids in Serbia are growing in influence and are “flourishing without a real economic basis”.

BIRN Programme Coordinator Tanja Maksic said that the research revealed the growing discrepancy between national and local media.

“The national media are getting a bigger share of public space and finance, while the local media remain unregulated, underfunded and prone to illegal practices, untransparent ownership and dealings,” Maksic said, according to Beta news agency.

Reporters Without Borders coordinator Nafisa Hasan said the research helped reveal the weaknesses of Serbia’s media sector, which is economically drained and susceptible to political influence.

Journalist Vladimir Kostic, who worked on the Serbian media database, which contains 48 broadcasters, said that even in newspapers with a long tradition such as Politika and Vecernje Novosti not even the employees know for sure who the owner is.

He added that there are no clear data on how much money from the state budget is spent on financing media content.

Media against Hate Workshop in Poland

Mirna Buljugic, executive director of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina, BIRN BiH, took part in a Media Literacy Training session organized by the Community Media Forum Europe, CMFE, at the University of Warmia and Mazury, in Olsztyn, Poland, from June 7th to 9th.

The focus was on freedom of expression and respect of human rights, specifically of Muslims, in the media, including discussing the portrayal of Muslims in the European media and highlighting the main issues and recommendations for improvement.

At several workshops, journalists learned more about how to recognize hate speech and become aware of the legitimate boundaries between freedom of expression and human rights.

Buljugic shared her own experience in the Bosnian media, talking about biased news coverage in which reporting still reflects national and religious identity.

A growing problem in BiH, she noted, is hatred that is spread via the online media, especially in the comments sections of online news portals, since no adequate mechanisms exist either to prevent or sanction such abuses from occurring.

BIRN Albania Holds Roundtable on Environmental Hotspots

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held a roundtable on environmental hotspots, bringing together journalists, civil society organisations and experts.

BIRN Albania’s roundtable on environmental hotspots held on June 13 in Tirana was part of a programme called ‘Exposing Corruption in Albania’, which is financed by the Open Society Foundation in Albania, OSFA.

The project aims to expose corruption in the financial industry by bridging the gap between civil society and investigative journalists, in order to uncover abuses of power, abuse of client trust and abuse of regulations.

About 16 representatives of non-governmental organisations and journalists discussed the topics to be investigated, which ranged from the health concerns linked with legacy environmental hotspots, new urban garbage incinerators, the switch in strategy on urban waste treatment, the lack of certification of laboratories maintained by government watchdogs and the oversight of big polluters.

Participants at the roundtable also listed poor recycling management in the capital and waste water treatments in coastal towns as topics of concern.

The topics highlighted by the NGOs will be listed in BIRN Albania’s upcoming call for investigative stories about environmental hotspots.

Elameri Škrgić-Mikulić

Elameri began her professional career in journalism in 2000. She initially worked for daily newspaper Dnevni Avaz, reporting on social issues, and was also the editor-in-chief of Azra magazine for nine years.

She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Sarajevo.

Haris Rovčanin

Haris has worked with BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina since September 2016.

He started working as a journalist in 2006. He worked for daily newspaper Oslobodjenje for three years before joining Dnevni List, where he worked for seven years, reporting on local crimes and the work of the judiciary in the field of organised crime, terrorism, corruption and, partially, war crimes.

Semir Mujkić

Semir is an investigative journalist who joined BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina in April 2017.

He has worked as a journalist since 2006. He began his career with START BiH Magazine. In 2009 he joined Zurnal online magazine, where he mainly focused on researching corruption in the health and energy sectors and public procurement.

He graduated in journalism from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Sarajevo.

Semir has attended advanced training courses in journalism, Reuters’ training of trainers and a one-month training course on economic and political reporting in London and Berlin, as well as the BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting.

He was awarded a UNICEF prize for journalistic contribution for the protection and promotion of child rights in print media in 2016.

Admir Muslimović

Admir is an investigative journalist who joined BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina in April 2017 after being involved in daily news reporting for 16 years.

He got his first journalistic experience working for the Tuzla-based TV station TVT in 2001. A year later he joined the then top-circulation daily newspaper Dnevni Avaz, where he focused on investigating corruption, crime and other political and social topics.

When daily newspaper Faktor and its website opened, he became its correspondent from Tuzla, reporting on similar topics. He was the editor-in-chief of a news site called bportal.

He graduated in journalism from the Department of Journalism of the Faculty of Philosophy at Tuzla University in 2005.

He has attended numerous training courses for journalists organised by UNICEF, Save the Children and BIRN.

BIRN Wins Four EU Investigative Journalism Awards

The 2017 regional scheme of the EU awarding investigative journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey, for the best investigative stories published in 2016, has come to an end.

The three-year award scheme established by the European Commission following the EU Enlargement strategy, aimed at monitoring the reform processes and keeping alive the historic momentum towards EU accession, has thus been concluded.

This year, BIRN won four awards, in KosovoSerbiaMacedonia, and Albania.

The outcome of the three-year scheme, implemented in 2015, 2016 and 2017, has been 64 awards for investigative stories produced by 88 journalists across the region.

The winning stories were selected from a total of 679 nominations.

The organisers noted the prominent place BIRN won for itself over the three years of the award scheme.

“Balkan Investigative Journalism Network (BIRN) and centers for investigative journalism (CIN) operating in several countries of the region were featured prominently among the awarded investigative stories (receiving a total of 18 out of 64 prizes awarded). It points to the role of independent, non-profit investigative journalism centers and networks in production of quality investigative journalism in the region”, the organisers wrote in the press release.

European Commission

DONOR
The European Commission represents the interests of the EU as a whole. It proposes new legislation to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, and it ensures that EU law is correctly applied by member countries.

The Commission’s other main roles are to set objectives and priorities for action, manage and implement EU policies and the budget, enforce European law (jointly with the Court of Justice, and to represent the EU outside of Europe.

BIRN Hub

The Commission supports BIRN Hub’s Regional Reporting on Transitional Justice Issues Project.

BIRN Kosovo

The European Commission Liaison Office supports Kosovo’s ambitious reform agenda. More than 280 EU-funded projects managed by the EC Liaison Office are currently being carried out across a wide range of sectors, regions and cities in Kosovo.

The EU assistance is focused on fulfilment of the EU political criteria, including strengthening the rule of law and support for public administration reform, the communities, culture, media and youth, among many other issues.

The European Union is a donor to BIRN Kosovo’s public service monitoring programme.

BIRN Serbia

As a part of the EU-financed programme, Strengthening Media Freedom, this project intends to raise professional standards in journalism through conducting fact-based and accurate investigative reporting on various issues recognized as key generators of corruption.

BIRN Serbia is implementing a project Strengthening the role of the media in securing the rule of law within the EU-financed programme, Strengthening Media Freedom.

The programme seeks to strengthen the rule of law and freedom of expression by:

  • raising professional standards in journalism
  • supporting fact-based, accurate investigative reporting
  • improving the quality and relevance of media products

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