BIRN Book Launch in Romania

BIRN Romania on December 13 launched the book “Moving on: Overcoming Barriers to a European Future” at the Center for Independent Journalism in Bucharest.

Representatives of local media, various NGOs, as well as friends of the organization attended the presentation.

BIRN Romania Director Marian Chiriac spoke about the Fellowship and announced next year’s programme, encouraging local young journalists to apply for it.

Romanian fellow, Bogdan Asaftei, gave an overview of his article and findings. In his investigation, Bogdan addressed the issue of social effects following relocation of some Western companies to Eastern Europe.

The event also provided an opportunity to announce BIRN’s commercialisation plans.

The Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, an initiative of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and Erste Foundation, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, selects ten fellows annually to do research within a theme related to European integration. In 2007, this was ‘mobility’, and the fellows from throughout the region covered obstacles and opportunities to the movement of goods, people and ideas in a range of sectors, including labour markets, business, justice, transport, sport, education and culture. The results were published on November 16, online and in hard copy, in English, German and all main languages of the Balkans.

BIRN Kosovo Staff Briefs Foreign Media

BIRN Kosovo has welcomed over 50 foreign journalists, who have been covering the latest developments in Kosovo.

Jeta Xharra, BIRN Kosovo director, was interviewed by BBC Online [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7133515.stm]and the Polish Magazine Babel [http://www.cafebabel.com/pl/article.asp?T=A&Id=2923]about the situation in Kosovo and the post- negotiation process. BIRN Kosovo editor, Krenar Gashi was interviewed by Deutsche Welle Radio and France 24 TV.

International media attention was prompted by the December 10 deadline for a Troika of international mediators to report back to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about four months of talks on Kosovo’s status. The Troika-led negotiations between Serbia and Kosovar Albanian representatives had earlier ended in failure.

Although the approaching deadline created some tension in Kosovo, the situation remained calmed.

Among other international media briefed by the BIRN Kosovo office during their stay were: BBC News, The New York Times, The Scotsman, The Wall Street Journal, The Independent, 24 Hours, ISN Geneva, EUP Berlin, Bergens daily and Stavanger Aftenblad.

BIRN BiH Director Addresses Investigative Journalists

Nerma
Jelacic, BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina director spoke at a working
meeting of investigative journalists from all over the country on
November 28.

The
meeting, organised by the Mediacentar and SEEMO, the Vienna-based
South East Europe Media Organisation, gathered investigative
journalists from across Bosnia and Herzegovina, BiH, who were seeking
to improve their skills in this aspect of their work
 
Jelacic
spoke about the role of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in
the regional media and her own experience gained while working on
investigative journalism pieces for BIRN.

New Edition of “In Pursuit of Justice” Launched

The second edition of the “In Pursuit of Justice” handbook was launched on October 31 in Sarajevo.

The handbook, written by BIRN journalists, is intended for all those who wish to learn about the work of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, BiH, the State prosecution service and the War Crimes Chamber. It also provides an overview of the key laws applied in processing war crimes cases, as well as information about the work of other institutions involved in transitional justice and the process of facing the past in BiH.
 
In addition, the handbook provides basic information on Justice Report – the news agency of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – which specialises in reporting on the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of BiH and all other aspects of the transitional justice process in the country and the rest of the region. 
 
Since Justice Report was established in April 2006, it has produced nearly 1,000 courtroom stories. An increasing number of people have come to trust our information and support our efforts. They include local and international media, non-governmental organizations, foreign governments, as well as Bosnian citizens residing in the country and abroad. 
 
Our reports have been successful at an international level. Our achievements include nominations for prestigious awards, the republication of our texts – in full or in part – and the use of quotes from our journalists in the media all over the world, from Japan to the US. 
 
The fact that our stories reach the people who survived the war and witnessed its horror is of the utmost importance to Justice Report. Witnesses who want to tell their stories contact us. By reading our stories, they learn about other people who survived similar horrors, and they establish mutual contacts. Justice Report makes every effort to provide them with as much useful information as possible, and to recover their faith both in the practical work of the judiciary and in the broader concept of justice. 
 
Knowing that those who possess correct and timely information have power to change things for the better, we continue with our work, determined to make that power of knowledge available to as many Bosnian citizens as possible. 
 
The handbook is available in the English and Bosnian languages on our website http://www.bim.ba  

BIRN Journalists Brief International NGO

BIRN
journalists working for the Justice Report agency in Bosnia and
Herzegovina addressed members of the International Forum Bosnia on
November 28 about war crimes trials and dealing with the past.

Nidzara
Ahmetasevic and Aida Alic spoke about the challenges facing
journalists in covering the legacy of the war which engulfed the
country between 1992-95.
 
BIRN’s Justice Report is
the only local or international agency which is dedicated to coverage
of war crimes trials and transitional justice on a daily basis.
 
 
International Forum Bosnia is a Sarajevo-based
NGO which rallies individuals and organisations from Bosnia and
Herzegovina and the rest of the world in order to promote dialogue,
trust and respect and the best principles of human rights.

New Correspondents Boost BIRN Coverage of Serbia

BIRN Serbia has recruited correspondents from Sandzak, southern Serbia, Vojvodina and Kosovo (covering the Serb community and other minorities) for its expanded news service on the new Balkan Insight website.

Amela Bajrovic, Nikola Lazic, Dragan Gmizic and Isak Vorgucic will strengthen BIRN’s network of contributors and give our readers a direct insight into the latest developments in these regions. Our new correspondents are trained and supported through the Minority Media Training and Reporting Project.

Since 2005 more than 50 journalists from Serbia have attended the training programme organized by BIRN Serbia, and sponsored by the British Embassy in Belgrade and the Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy. The project’s aim is to strengthen the capacity of local journalists and support their work.

Life in Kosovo Breaks All Records

In
November Life in Kosovo’s team covered municipal and parliamentary
elections in a series of 33 televised debates.

Before
the debates the Life in Kosovo team visited local TV stations across
Kosovo, and opened a hotline to collect questions from the
inhabitants of each municipality. Viewers were encouraged to call in
and put their questions to the candidates.

It
was the first time that Kosovo voters had a chance to vote for
individual candidates, in addition to casting their ballots for their
preferred party.

"Life
in Kosovo" truly lived up to its name when the team travelled to
each municipality to record its debates in the presence of local
audiences. The 27 road shows on the municipal elections brought the
audiences face to face with the candidates running in the elections
for local mayors. The candidates had an opportunity to present
their political agenda and explain how they would carry out their
promises.

A grand total of over
10,000 viewers participated in the shows. The debates were broadcast
on Kosovo’s public service television, RTK, and because of the
extraordinary level of interest, each show was repeated twice on the
same day.

Meanwhile,
Life in Kosovo carried on with its regular schedule of televised
debates every Thursday. Well-known public personalities and
leading political analysts discussed and explained the election
programmes of Kosovo’s rival political parties.

During
these five live shows viewers were encouraged to call and answer the
question whether the electoral campaign had influenced their decision
as to who they should vote for. Over 1,500 viewers phoned in to ask
questions or make their views known.

The
five election debates were held with the participation of editors of
Kosovo’s major daily newspapers – Koha Ditore, Bota Sot, Express,
Epoka e Re, Lajm, Zeri, Info Press and Kosova Sot. They shared the
platform with prominent civil society activists.

The
"Life in Kosovo" shows on municipal elections were a
co-production of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN,
Kosovo’s public service TV station, RTK, Advocacy Training and
Resource Centre, ATRC, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, BTD and the Group for Policy Analysis, GAP. These
debates were supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the OSCE and
the UNDP. Local organizations have contributed to the production of
these debates as well.

Sigrid Rausing Trust to support BIRN in 2008

The
Sigrid Rausing Trust has renewed its support to BIRN for 2008 with
two grants for the forthcoming 12-month period.

Its
core funding for BIRN is aimed to support costs for a one-year
programme to strengthen BIRN’s network of journalists across the
Balkans and enable them to continue probing and analysing key issues
– as well as to support the development of democracy, good
governance and the rule of law in the region, as part of its advance
towards European integration.

Through
an advancement grant, a one-off contribution for strategic
development, The Sigrid Rausing Trust will help to increase and
sustain BIRN’s editorial capacities.

These
two significant grants will also assist BIRN advance its capacities
to develop other network activities, with a view to achieving
sustainability in the medium term.

Netherlands Embassy Support BIRN in 2008

The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Belgrade has made a grant available to support BIRN’s efforts to turn part of its output into an income-generating activity. The new grant provides funds designed to boost the BIRN network’s editorial capacity, in particular its cutting-edge output in analytical and investigative journalism.

The Netherlands Embassy has given generous support to BIRN’s development as an independent local civil society initiative, and helped its regional activities throughout 2006-07.
 
During the past two years BIRN has engaged in extensive training activities, building teams of investigative journalists throughout the Balkans and training them in different aspects of their trade.  It has created a network of over 200 local contributors and editors in nine countries across the region.

Balkan Insight Website Launch

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, has launched its new website – a comprehensive online news service on Balkan political, economic and social affairs.

The www.BalkanInsight.com website contains current information from nine countries in the Balkans, and will keep its readers updated on the latest developments in the region, through regular analytical and investigative reports. It carries in-depth coverage of reforms and the transition process, business and investment trends as well as the latest news in a brief, accessible format.

The content of the website will be free for readers and republication until January 31, 2008, after which certain sections of the website will be available by subscription only. During December 2007 BIRN is offering a promotional 20% discount for subscription for 2008.
For more information visit us at: www.Balkaninsight.com. For rates and subscription options visit: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/main/info/5515/ or contact us directly at: [email protected]