Moldova – Romania: A Network of Stories

BIRN Romania
The project aims to foster mutual understanding among people from Moldova and Romania by creating a network of human interest stories (print and audio) related to what does it mean to be a Moldovan citizen today in relation with a Romanian one, in an era of geopolitical tensions and radical social change.

Summary

At least ten journalists from both countries will produce some 20 long form, in-depth stories, which will be published on local and international level. A selection of stories will be published as an e-book which will be highly redistributed to general public and stakeholders.

Donor: Open Society FoundatioBlack Sea Trust Fund – A German Marshall Projectn, Serbia

Information Sheet

Main Objective

To contribute to the confidence building and mutual understanding process among the citizens from Moldova and Romania.

Specific Objectives

  • To involve at least 10 journalists from Moldova and Romania to report on human interest stories relevant for both countries
  • To supply local media from both countries with interviews, good-quality analytical articles and opinion pieces
  • To support informed debate on key challenges both countries are facing, both at national and regional level.

Main Activities

  • BIRN Romania team will activate its network of journalists and stringer from Moldova and Romania but will also launch a public call for contributors. Basic rules of editorial policies and communication will be established.
  • BIRN Romania will commission the stories and will schedule their publication date
  • Under guidance from BIRN team (on-the-job training), the journalists will write up to 20 long form, in-depth articles. The articles will be published simultaneously on SINOPSIS website and on BIRN’s media partners from Moldova and Romania. A selection of the articles (or brief version of them) will be published in English on the Balkan Insight website and also distributed to an international audience.
  • A selection and revised version of the articles will be published as an e-book, which will be distributed to general public and stakeholders.

Target Groups

  • At least 10 journalists from Moldova and Romania.
  • General public from the above mentioned countries
  • International audience interested in the Eastern Europe region.

Main implementer

BIRN Romania

Partners

Several publications from Romania and Moldova

Public Money for Public Interest – Measuring Index of Transparency of Public Money in the Media

BIRN Serbia
Through this project, BIRN will encourage the participation of civil society in the process of increasing transparency of public spending for media.

Summary

In the cross-sectoral cooperation, 10 representatives of local CSOs throughout Serbia will be involved.

Donor: Open Society Foundation, Serbia

Information Sheet

Main Objective

To increase transparency and accountability in the spending of public money in the media sector through the involvement of civil society and joint activities of monitoring and public advocacy.

Specific Objectives

  • Mentoring, capacity-building and networking of 10 representatives of local CSOs, enabling them to adequately monitor budget money spending in the media sector.
  • Systematic monitoring of media financing from local budgets, through the methodology of the Transparency Index
  • Presentation of results and joint public advocacy activities that promote the transparency of public funding and procedures and practices of allocating public money to media

Main Activities

A1: Networking, capacity-building, learning by doing
A2: Data collection and monitoring
A3: Promotion of results and public advocacy
A4: Evaluation

Target Groups

Primary target group: an informal group of local CSOs that BIRN has gathered within the project Public Money for Public Interest.
Secondary target groups: decision-makers at local and national level, media, civil society organisations, professional associations and the general public.

Highlights

  • The Transparency Index reserch results
  • Local public debates
  • Policy briefs

Main implementer

BIRN Serbia

Partners

  • Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (IJAS)
  • Slavko Curuvija Foundation (SCF)

Transparent Allocation of Public Funds for Media

BIRN Serbia

Summary

Through systematic research into the transparency of budget allocation, analysis of collected data, and practical policy suggestions for improving established practices, the project will affect the reduction of the ‘grey area’ in which there is a room for non-transparent treatment, discretionary interpretation and corruptive practices.
The policy change proposals will be promoted at four public debates, through social networks, websites and advocacy activities.

Donor: Ministry of Culture and Information Serbia

Information Sheet

Main Objective

Increasing transparency and accountability in the spending of budget money in the media sector by reducing regulatory risks of corruption, and monitoring and evaluating the effects of this type of public spending.

Specific Objectives

Systematic monitoring of the budgetary financing of the media: Improving the transparency of public allocation and procedures and practices of allocating public money through policy proposals and public advocacy.

Main Activities

A1: Data collection, monitoring and analysis
A2: Writing a proposal for practical policies – policy briefs
A3: Public advocacy

Target Groups

Primary target group: decision-makers at local and national level
Secondary target groups: professional organisations and associations, as well as other CSOs that have complementary public advocacy activities and with which BIRN cooperates; the general public.

Highlights

Results of the research
Policy briefs

Main implementer

BIRN Serbia

Under the Spotlight: Criminal Justice in Serbia

BIRN Serbia

Promotion of judicial transparency and accountability through investigative reporting.

Summary

BIRN will provide comprehensive public insight into the capacities of the judicial system to fight against the corruption through the newly-established mechanism of special courts and prosecution offices in charge of the abuse of funds, money-laundering and tax evasion.

BIRN plans to increase its content production and publishing on BIRN Serbia’s flagship website javno.rs, providing citizens with accurate and unbiased information about cases of corruption, access to justice and abuse of public funds or posts.

BIRN will produce at least four journalistic stories in different formats – investigative, data-journalism and/or analytical content, published on the javno.rs platform, with follow-ups on the reported cases. Additionally, two online databases will be created, establishing an evidence base for tracing the work of the special anti-corruption departments and their effectiveness in processing the cases of high corruption..

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
To promote judicial transparency and accountability through investigative reporting.
Specific Objectives:
  • To promote the accountability of the judiciary and other state institutions through investigative journalism and professional media reporting
  • To put the spotlight on newly-established judicial instruments and their contribution to anti-corruption efforts, by scrutinizing their work and exposing potential cases of the abuse of funds, money-laundering and tax evasion

Main Activities:

  1. Content production
  2. Creation of online databases
  3. Online promotion and awareness-raising

Target Groups:

Journalists, experts, the public
Highlights: 
Investigations, Analysis, Data bases

Digital Media Action

BIRN Serbia

The overall objective is to reinforce the role of media in democratic processes in Serbia by enhancing the reach and impact of quality, public-interest oriented journalism that strives to make government more accountable to citizens

Summary

The Digital Media Action project involves independent media through a small grants scheme and innovative training approaches, responding to their needs and motivations, giving them expertise, tools and resources, including the opportunity to publish and efficiently promote and start monetizing their work.

The project will demonstrate the power of quality media and journalism to bring to the public eye sensitive and underreported issues and steer debate about them.

This will have a positive impact on the Serbian public, who will be better informed and thus able to hold authorities accountable, and also on the participating media, as their profile and influence will be strengthened, creating the basis for their future sustainability.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
The overall objective is to reinforce the role of media in democratic processes in Serbia by enhancing the reach and impact of quality, public-interest oriented journalism that strives to make government more accountable to citizens.

Specific Objectives:

  • Make independent media more financially stable, producing regular, high quality and professional content that meets citizens’ demands
    There is a considerable need and space for improvement in journalistic, technical and managerial terms in order to expand their influence and create the basis for sustainability in a fast-developing digital arena, currently dominated by questionable and highly politicized, externally influenced journalistic standards and practices.
  • Enable citizens to increasingly understand and debate the performance of public institutions, contributing to raising public accountably
    Citizens’ informed decision-making is significantly reduced by the lack of relevant and unbiased information and debate, especially on potentially controversial issues such as the rule of law. This is exacerbated by the political capture of the mainstream media environment, which leaves large parts of the population deprived of reliable information.

Main Activities:

    • Organise and carry out cutting-edge training, online mentorship, provide expert know-how and technical support to selected independent media;
    • Create a basis for sustainable business model development by providing technical solutions and digital services;
    • Strengthen capacities in development of revenue streams;
    • Provide grants for quality journalistic and multimedia production on issues of public concern that would otherwise remain unreported;
    • Provide editorial mentorship to media awarded with small grants;
    • Coordinate content syndication, exchange and promotion for all participating media;
    • Foster public debate and stakeholders’ involvement over the reported issues through debates, conferences, consultations and online campaigns.

    Target Groups:

  • Local media, independent institutions, experts, communities, authorities, general public

Highlights: 

  • News, analysis, investigations
Partners:
Juzne Vesti

Media Investigations: Stop to READ (Regional Environmental Acts of Devastation)

BIRN Hub

The project aims to strengthen investigative reporting in Montenegro, which is being implemented by BIRN, CIN Montenegro and Monitor magazine. The project was funded by the EU Delegation in Podgorica.

Summary

Through intensive training, international mentoring and an investigative approach, the project has a goal to increase the capacities of CIN Montenegro, Monitor, and other media outlets whose journalists are taking part.

Within the project, the call for investigative stories with an environmental angle was launched in March 2018.

BIRN, CIN Montenegro and Monitor magazine held a training course in Podgorica in April  2018 for journalists, teaching the investigative skills needed to produce stories covering environmental issues. Topics covered by the course included investigative journalism techniques, online storytelling, multimedia training, video and photo editing, as well as information on domestic and EU politics in the sphere of environmental protection.

Three journalists have been awarded grants to cover their expenses while carrying out investigations and writing stories on the environment and related to Chapter 27 within the EU accession process.

Regional Reporting on Transitional Justice Issues

BIRN Hub

The programme focuses on building the capacities of local media and civil society in order to promote reconciliation and intercultural dialogue.

Summary

The programme aims to promote best practice among local media outlets in reporting on often sensitive post-conflict transitional justice issues.

It works to improve the state of reporting in this field by creating a regional network of journalists who are trained to competently cover all aspects of the process and by allowing local media to republish high-quality contributions.

The programme aims to increase and strengthen the capacities of local journalists, civil society activists and victims’ groups to monitor, effectively engage and shape ongoing transitional justice processes, including the implementation of the EU policy framework on transitional justice.

From 2018 to the end of 2020, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network’s Balkan Transitional Justice Initiative will work to promote and strengthen transitional justice mechanisms and processes through regular, in-depth, high-quality reporting from Albania (for the first time), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

The Regional Reporting on Transitional Justice Issues programme is aimed at victims’ groups in the region and in the diaspora, as well as victims of war and former camp inmates.

In the scope of the programme’s investigations across the region, televised debates in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina will be produced. A focus page about the newly-established Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague will also be created.

In 2018, BIRN partnered with the Netherlands-based organisation Impunity Watch, which will hold workshops and produce policy papers about victims’ participation and guarantees of non-recurrence.

The programme is supported by the European Commission, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:

  • To establish a network of journalists in the Balkans (Transitional Justice Regional Journalistic Team) who will be trained to report on transitional justice issues in the region, raising awareness and assisting in the reconciliation process.

Specific Objectives:

  • To contribute to the reconciliation process by raising awareness of transitional justice issues among the citizens of former Yugoslav republics.
  • To improve the state of the media in this specific field while creating a regional network of journalists who are capable of covering all the aspects of the ongoing process and by allowing local media to republish high-quality articles.
  • To promote best practice in terms of reporting on often sensitive post-conflict transitional justice processes among local media outlets.

Main Activities:

  • Training for a specialised Transitional Justice Regional Journalistic Team.
  • Editorial production.
  • Online production and dissemination.
  • Regional Justice TV production and dissemination.
  • Regional conferences and workshops.

Target Groups:

  • Victims’ groups in the region, as well as the diaspora.
  • Female victims of war and women searching for their families.
  • Male former camp inmates from throughout the region and abroad.
  • International NGOs, watchdogs, justice sector development institutions (eg. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Centre for Transitional Justice, etc).
  • Journalists, local and worldwide, who report on transitional justice issues.

Highlights:

  • The War Crimes Verdicts Map – the continued updating of an interactive tool designed by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network to provide an overview of court rulings on the crimes that were committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
  • Production of an online database on mass graves from the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
  • Production of policy papers giving recommendations to strengthen transitional justice processes and mechanisms.

Investigate for ME and EU

BIRN Hub

‘Investigate for ME and EU’, a project which is being implemented by the Center for Investigative Journalism of Montenegro (CIN-CG) and BIRN, began in February 2017. CIN and BIRN jointly won this grant in the first-ever EC media call to be organised in Montenegro.

Summary

Through its partnership with BIRN, CIN-CG – which was established just three years ago – will strengthen its capacities, both in terms of supporting journalistic investigations and in managing an EU project.

Investigative stories about the process of EU integration are produced by the members of CIN CG team and journalists from other Montenegrin media – those that are chosen in a call for the best investigative proposals, which is already open. They will deal with the biggest challenges in the country’s negotiations with the EU, including corruption, the rule of law, and environmental issues.

Western Balkans Countering Violent Extremism Training Initiative

BIRN Hub

Summary

The overarching objective of this initiative is to contest extremist narratives in the public discourse, in particular those disseminated online, throughout the Western Balkans. The specific objectives of this project are:

–        To equip critical voices with the skills, know-how and resources to challenge extremist narratives.

–        To encourage critical evaluation of extremist messages by the most vulnerable groups and the general public.

–        To improve policies and practices in the region in handling and responding to online extremist content.

The project adopts an iterative approach, involving a wide range of stakeholders in discussing needs, gaps and opportunities to challenge violent extremist narratives online, followed by the development and testing of prototypes of effective digital solutions and tools to enhance counter-messaging content production and distribution and to strengthen resilience against violent extremism.

Actions will be aligned with national Countering Violent Extremism strategies, with partnerships formed with mainstream media, public institutions, technology companies, and private investors, with the aim of influencing policies and practices in contesting extremist narratives online.

Exercising the Freedom of Expression and Openness of State Institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia

BIRN Hub

“Exercising the Freedom of Expression and Openness of State Institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia” is a project intended to increase public awareness on issues of access to justice and contribute towards more transparent and more responsive institutions in these three countries.

Summary

The regional project will result in three country-based and one cross-regional analysis, the first of its kind, offering a regional perspective on the accessibility of public institutions in the Western Balkans.