BIRN Serbia and Montenegro and TV B92 cooperate in supporting minority journalism

To compliment BIRN SaM’s Minority Training and Reporting Project, TV
B92 will host journalists who have undergone BIRN training, with a view
to providing them with further work experience and enhancing minority and
provincial perspectives in national broadcasting.

To date, two trainees from South Serbia’s RTV Presevo, Faruk Daliu
and Ivica Stepanovic, have benefited from this opportunity, producing a
news report on the basis of the Balkan Insight article Serbs Sell up in
Presevo
, BI No.9, 16 November
2005.

Faruk Daliu said of his experience, “BIRN has given me an opportunity
to learn how my favourite TV station functions. It was very useful to get
the chance to learn techniques from its news section through working directly
with its journalists”.

This project is supported by the British Embassy in Belgrade. For more information,
contact BIRN SaM Director Dragana Nikolic-Solomon.

BIRN Kosovo TV Debate Opens Oxford University Seminar

A discussion on Kosovo’s future at St Antony’s College, Oxford University, opened on 8 December with a screening of the first debate in BIRN’s “Life in Kosovo” TV series, in which a number of high profile politicians answered citizens’ questions on final status negotiations.

Dr Richard Caplan, Lecturer and Official Fellow at the university’s Department of Politics and International Relations wrote to BIRN that:

“There happened to be a delegation of some 25 deputy permanent representatives to the EU visiting Oxford and they watched the debate and took part in the discussion that followed. Many of them commented on how impressed they were with BIRN’s high level of journalistic
professionalism.”

The “Life in Kosovo” debate series, aired bi-weekly on RTK and sponsored by the Balkan Trust for Democracy, aim to open up a discussion on taboo issues in Kosovan society, such as the question of Kosovan nationality versus Albanian ethnicity, the existence of party-affiliated intelligence structures and the presence of corruption and nepotism in public institutions.

For more information, contact BIRN Kosovo Director Jeta Xharra.

BIRN Bulgaria Trains Journalists on EU Integration

BIRN Bulgaria Director Albena Shkodrova was a guest speaker at a course
held in Sofia at the end of November, entitled "European Integration
of the Balkan (SEE) States and the Media".

Nine young journalists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia,
Moldova, Montenegro and Romania attended the training course organised by
the Centre for Independent Journalism-Sofia and Southeast European Network
for Professionalisation of the Media.

Shkodrova spoke on practical approaches to investigative journalism and
writing about European integration, drawing on BIRN’s expertise in
cross-regional investigations, in-depth analysis and reporting sensitive
intra-ethnic issues.

For more information on BIRN Bulgaria’s activities, contact Director
Albena Shkodrova.

Norway to Fund BIRN BiH Justice Project in 2006

The Norwegian Embassy in Sarajevo has generously provided BIRN BiH with funding to launch the next phase of its Justice Project.

In 2006, BIRN BiH plans to produce a weekly report on local war crimes trials and facilitate wide public debate on the war crimes justice process amongst Bosnians at home and in the substantial diaspora.

For more information on how to get involved in supporting this project, contact BIRN BiH Director Nerma Jelacic.

BIRN BiH to Launch War Crimes Legal Manual

BIRN BiH will this month publish its manual on the War Crimes Chamber in Sarajevo.

The guidebook, in both Bosnian and English languages, will be distributed to media outlets and civil society groups throughout BiH as well as selected organisations in Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro.

Designed to aid journalists and NGO representatives following local war crimes trials, the book explains the statute, structure and mandate of the newly formed court, as well as legal issues, changes to the country’s criminal procedure and special provisions recently introduced for witnesses.

Publication of the guidebook will mark the end of BIRN BiH’s year-long Transitional Justice project which was kindly sponsored by the Swiss Embassy in Sarajevo. The guidebook as well as BIRN BiH’s plans for the following year will be launched at a special event in January.
For more information on BIRN BiH’s Justice Project, please contact BIRN BiH Director Nerma Jelacic.

BIRN BiH Moderates War Crimes Debate for Konrad Adenauer Stiftung

BIRN BiH director, Nerma Jelacic, moderated a two-day conference on journalists’
coverage of war crimes issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2005.

"Dealing
with the past and the media’s role" organised by the Konrad Adenauer
Stiftung took place on 5-7 December in Sarajevo. Journalists from print
and radio media from all over BiH, as well as representatives of the State
Court and Prosecution and media experts, took part in the event.

The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and BIRN BiH will present the conclusions
of the conference jointly in an upcoming meeting with representatives of
the State Court and Prosecution.

For more information, contact BIRN BiH Director Nerma Jelacic.

BIRN Seeks Freelance Editors

BIRN seeks applications from English-language editors with expertise in
the Balkan region and investigative and economic reporting to form part
of its growing pool of freelancers working on Balkan Insight.

Applications are particularly encouraged from editors based in the
region, and should be sent to BIRN Editorial and Development Director
Gordana Igric.

BIRN Sustainability Plans Progress

As part of BIRN’s development strategy to achieve sustainability by generating income from some elements of its editorial output, Development and Editorial Director Gordana Igric was invited to attend a one-week business plan course organised by the Media Development Loan Fund, MDLF, from 21-26 November.

The purpose of the training was to assist Balkan-based media organisations and outlets in establishing themselves on the region’s still volatile media market.

For more information on BIRN’s editorial and sustainability strategy, contact BIRN Editorial and Development Director Gordana Igric.

BIRN Kosovo Documentary Completed

The final edit of BIRN’s documentary film on the regional context for Kosovo status negotiations is now complete.

Post-production, narration and sub-titling will be finished by the end of the month, with premier screenings scheduled for January 2006.

More information will be forthcoming on these screenings, due to take place in the countries/territories covered by the film – Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Screenings are also being organised in Brussels, London and Sofia.

The film will be broadcast by TV stations throughout the Balkans, while distribution further afield is also being arranged.

This project is supported by the Swiss Foreign Ministry. For more information, contact BIRN Regional Network Director Anna McTaggart.

Balkan Voices: What next for Kosovo?

A documentary reflecting the concerns and hopes of Balkan citizens on the eve of crucial talks over the final status of Kosovo is to be screened at the Front Line Club in London on January 9.

Produced by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, and directed by the award-winning film-maker Lode Desmet, the 85-minute documentary – entitled Does Anyone Have A Plan? – focuses on seventeen ordinary people from Kosovo, Serbia and neighbouring countries in the run-up to the negotiations.

In the film, the subjects’ questions about the implications of the talks – which, it is hoped, will go a long way to finding a solution to the conflict between Serbia and the Kosovo Albanians, and stabilising the region as a whole – are put to important local and international political figures.

The latter include EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, senior US state department official Nicholas Burns, Serbian president Boris Tadic and Kosovo premier Bajram Kosumi.

Kosovo is the last unresolved dispute in the Balkans. In the summer of 1999, Serbian troops left the entity and NATO forces moved in. Since then, it has been largely administered by the UN, although still formally part of Serbia and Montenegro.

Serbian, Kosovo Albanian and international officials are to start negotiations on the future of the region in early 2006, with the Albanians wanting independence and the Serbs prepared to concede no more than a high degree of autonomy.

The film is subtitled in English and all local languages. It will be broadcast throughout the region by leading TV stations in January and February. International distribution is also being planned.

This project was supported by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Political Affairs Division for Human Security.