BIRN Organises Media Training for War Crimes Reporting

BIRN and the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, last month organised two seminars on reporting about the work of the ICTY for journalists from Kosovo and Macedonia in Pristina and Skopje.

The seminars, held on April 10 in Pristina and April 11 in Skopje, were designed as an opportunity for media professionals from Kosovo and Macedonia to discuss various issues related to the ICTY and the coverage of war crimes with Tribunal officials and experts on war crimes reporting. 
The seminars were divided into six sessions with presentations from Olga Kavran, spokeswoman for the tribunal prosecution; Refik Hodzic, spokesperson for the tribunal registry; Nerma Jelacic, BIRN`s BIH director, Bronwyn Jones, tribunal liaison officer in Pristina; and journalist Christian Jennings. David Blunt from the UK office in Pristina and British ambassador to Macedonia Robert Chatterton Dickson opened the event in Pristina and Skopje respectively.       
Editors and journalists from major outlets in Kosovo, including Iliria Post, Koha Ditore, Info Press, Zeri, Lajm and Kosova Sot dailies and RTK, KTV, RTV 21, and ALSAT TV stations covered the event.
In Macedonia, some 40 editors and journalists from media across the ethnic divide were represented, including Dnevnik, Utrinski vesnik, Vest, Fakti, Spic dailies, Mia and Makfax news agencies, Telma, MRTV, A1, Sitel, Kanal 5, Alsat TV stations, Macedonian state radio and Channel 77 radio and Forum plus and Globus weeklies.   
The events were an opportunity for media from Kosovo and Macedonia to discuss ongoing trials in The Hague; the role of ICTY; and exchange opinions and experiences and how to access better tribunal-related information.
The events were organised by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, in cooperation with ICTY Outreach and with financial support from the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
As a follow up event, BIRN Macedonia organised an additional two days of training for Macedonian journalists. It aimed to provide those covering the trial of Macedonia`s former interior minister Ljube Boskovski, and the return of four cases from the tribunal to the Macedonian courts, an opportunity to gain an insight into   International Humanitarian Law, court reporting, amongst other subjects.
The event was organised by BIRN Macedonia on April 12 and 13 with support from the British embassy in Skopje.

East Serbia BIRN Training Event

On May 21 – 22, the BIRN Serbia team will travel to East Serbia to interview potential candidates for the BIRN correspondent network.

The network in Serbia includes young and middle-aged journalists from a range of ethnic backgrounds, who work for local media outlets and national media in Belgrade.

As part of its efforts to build a truly nationwide network of journalists, BIRN Serbia is to launch a training course in East Serbia on June 9. Participants will be taught international reporting standards, news analyses and feature writing.

This training session will be followed by a special issue of Balkan Insight devoted to the socio-political situation in East Serbia, an underdeveloped area, blighted by a bad economy, unsuccessful privatization and ecological problems.

This session, sponsored by the British Embassy in Belgrade as part of a three- year journalism training project, will provide a group of five journalists with invaluable opportunities to adopt BIRN’s professional standards and become permanent members of its netw

BIRN Bulgaria Praised for Minority Reporting Workshop

BIRN Bulgaria has successfully completed the first phase of its
three-month long Reporting on Minorities project. The main event was a
three-day workshop which took place May 8-10 in Sofia. The six Bulgarian
journalists from national, regional and ethnic media who participated gave
the workshop positive feedback and found it very useful and interesting.

During the event, the journalists met Andrew Lam, a writer and editor of New America Media – the largest national online collaboration of ethnic news organisations in the US. Lam discussed the different aspects of the ethnic minorities’ development in the US and the role of mainstream and minority media.

"Even though [his presentation] concerned completely different regions in the world, the process of the establishment of ethnic media [in the US] can serve as a showcase and a source from which to learn when considering the situation in Bulgaria," said participant Beynur Suleyman, a reporter at Zaman weekly.

BIRN Bulgaria Director Albena Shkodrova presented a case study of the way Bulgarian mainstream media dealt with a controversial historical project in the last few weeks, outlining positive and negative practices. Another workshop presentation, by RFE/RL journalist and writer Tatyana Vaksberg, focused on the role played by the media during the Rwandan genocide and the war in former Yugoslavia. Lastly, oriental scholar Velin Belev offered some background on the history of Islam and discussed the different Muslim communities that currently reside in Bulgaria.

The workshop was "very useful. For three days I learned as much as one learns in the course of years on these specific issues. It will directly reflect in my work. Above all, [it motivated me] to learn with maximum tolerance and desire about other ethnic groups," said participant Iskra Sotirova, a correspondent with the daily 24 chassa.

BIRN Wins Kosovo Journalism Award

A BIRN investigative report has won a top journalism prize in Kosovo.

"Ex-Policemen Run Kosovo Passport Scam", an investigative report by Krenar Gashi and BIRN investigative team, published in BIRN’s Balkan Insight, was named best story in printed/online journalism in Kosovo for 2006, by the Association of Professional Journalists of Kosova, APJK, on May 11.

A professional jury consisted of top journalists from local and international media, such as the BBC and VOA, selected Gashi’s story from 30 nominations in this category.

The award was presented by Ramiz Kelmendi, a pioneer of Kosovo journalism.
"The structure of the story is just perfect and it provides many new and interesting facts for the readers," said Besim Abazi, VOA correspondent from Kosovo and a member of the jury, after announcing Gashi as the winner.
"The topic was crucial, relevant and really appealing," he added.
The investigation published in Balkan Insight on December 1 2006, came as a result of successful co-operation between BIRN Kosovo and BIRN Serbia and revealed an illegal trade in passports, run by ex-policemen who work with organised
crime groups
The BIRN investigation published in Balkan Insight on December 1 2006, revealed an illegal trade in passports, run by ex-policemen who work with organised crime groups.
APJK also presented awards for the best televised story, best radio story and best correspondent of the year.

Fellowships Awarded to 10 Balkan Journalists

The Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence was awarded on May 14 to ten journalists from around Southeast Europe, following their selection from over 80 applications received.

The chosen journalists are: Bogdan Asaftei from Romania, Sokol Ferizi from Kosovo, Milorad Ivanovic from Serbia, Davor Konjikusic from Croatia, Nikoleta Popkostadinova from Bulgaria, Nenad Radicevic from Serbia, Altin Raxhimi from Albania, Polina Slavcheva from Bulgaria, Bojana Stanisic from Montenegro and Eleonora Veninova from Macedonia.

They will participate until the end of the year in an intensive programme of training, research and reporting, beginning with a week-long seminar in Vienna on May 27. Information on their experiences will be regularly posted on the Fellowship’s website.

For more information about the Fellowship, contact programme manager Anna McTaggart, [email protected].

The Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence is an initiative of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the ERSTE Foundation, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

“Life in Kosovo” Debates Classroom Violence

This Friday’s Life in Kosovo will look into an alarming increase in violence among high-school students.

In the municipality of Podujeva, a student was recently caught carrying a firearm, while in Pristina rioting and knife fights between students ended up with a number hospitalised.

Life in Kosovo will discuss the reasons why such violence erupts.

The programme will ask questions such as whether schools are safe place to learn; and who should be responsible for security at school.

The panelists invited to discuss these issues are:

Zijadin Gashi – Regional Inspector for Education;
Rrustem Buzhala – Director of the Directorate for Education for the Municipality of Pristina;
Isa Xhemajli – Kosovo Police Service;
Jahë Sahiti – Director of the School of Economics in Pristina;
Shaip Hasani – Sociology Professor;
Fisnik Osmani – President of Pristina’s High Schools Student Council.

Life in Kosovo is broadcast every Friday on RTK, at 20:15.

BIRN Journalist Attends Youth Conference

Muhamet Hajrullahu, a BIRN Kosovo journalist, took part in the “Generation Europe: Regional Youth Conference”, in Zagreb on May 11, 2007.

The event took place on the premises of the Faculty of Law at the University of Zagreb, with the participation of Olli Rehn, EU Commissioner for Enlargement; Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, the Croatian Minister for Foreign Affairs; Erhard Bussek, Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact; representatives of the Franco-German and the Polish-German textbook projects; Professor Josip Kregar, the Dean of the Faculty of Law of Zagreb University; and Nenad Sebek, from the Centre for Democracy and Reconciliation in SEE.

More than 100 students from the region and selected member states took part in the event.

The event, which was hosted by the law faculty, focused on regional efforts to come to terms with the past and the road to European integration.

During the meeting, students from non-EU countries posed questions to Rehn regarding procedures for obtaining Schengen and EU visas.

Rehn said that visa procedures will be relaxed in the near future for Balkans countries.

“Life in Kosovo” Talks to Leading Educationalist

This Friday, the Life in Kosovo TV debate will feature an exclusive interview with Mehmet Gjevori which was conducted shortly before the death of the well-known author of works on education and linguistics.

Gjevori published his first book in 1945, and his last in 2006 at the age of 96, thus completing a rich 60-year-long career as a successful educator and linguist.

In the interview he gave to Life in Kosovo, this leading educationalist talks about his decision to leave Albania, his home country, and come to Kosovo to open Albanian schools at a time when illiteracy amongst the Kosovo Albanian
population was as high as 90 per cent.

Among other things, he also explains why the ‘gheg’ dialect was not included in standard Albanian; talks about how he was treated by the Albanian and ex-Yugoslavian secret services; and also reveals interesting details about his
personal life, such as his first love and his marriage.

Life in Kosovo is broadcastevery Friday on RTK at 20:15.

Fellowship Gets German and Austrian Media Partners

Journalists selected to participate in the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence will benefit from the involvement of two leading European newspapers in the programme.

Austrian daily Der Standard and German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung have kindly agreed to become the programme’s partners, offering fellows guidance and support at Fellowship seminars and during their research.

For more information, visit the Fellowship’s website

The Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence is an initiative of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the ERSTE Foundation, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

Fellowship Selection Committee Appointed

A committee has been appointed to judge applications for the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence and select up to ten journalists to participate in the 2007 programme. Later this year, based on the results of fellows’ research and reporting activities, it will make one journalist a special award to allow further professional development.

The committee’s permanent members, representing media in the Balkans and the European Union, are Alexandra Föderl-Schmid, editor-in-chief of the Austrian daily , Der Standard, Drago Hedl, editor of the Croatian weekly, Feral Tribune, Gordana Igric, director and editor-in-chief of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, Remzi Lani, executive director of the Albanian Media Institute, Christiane Schlötzer, deputy editor, foreign desk, of the German daily , Süddeutsche Zeitung and Wolfgang Wähner-Schmidt, editor-in-chief of Reuters Germany. This year’s expert member is Gerald Knaus, president of the European Stability Initiative.

For more information, visit the Fellowship’s website

The results of the selection shall be made public on May 14.

The Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence is an initiative of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the ERSTE Foundation, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.