Corrupting the Birthrates

BIRN Serbia
A new law on financial support to families with children (which was adopted in 2017 and came into force in 2018) has been creating confusion among citizens of Serbia.

Summary

While the government claims its policies are intended to increase birth rates, pregnant women and new mothers across Serbia are dissatisfied with low incomes during their absence from work. A new way of calculating maternity benefits leaves women confused and with no clear information about how much money they can expect while pregnant or after giving birth.

Donor: Transparency International

Information Sheet

Main Objective

To inform Serbian citizens so they can exercise their rights in relation to maternity leave and state financial aid.

Specific Objectives

To develop a digital tool that calculates maternity and pregnancy leave compensation in order to better inform the Serbian public.

Main Activities

Data collection, monitoring and analysis
Developing digital tools
Publishing analysis

Target Groups

Families with children, general public

Highlights

Analysis, digital tools, date bases

Main implementer

BIRN Serbia

Strengthening Quality News and Independent Journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey

BIRN Hub

The overall objective of the project is to provide structural support to media freedom and media integrity in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

Summary

The goal of the three-year project led by BIRN Hub and its partners, and supported by the European Union, is to enhance media trust among citizens and create a safe environment for journalists to produce independent news content through training, mentoring, technical and financial support, and publishing.


Donor

European Commission – Directorate-General Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations.


Main Objective

The overall objective of the project is to provide structural support to media freedom and media integrity in the Western Balkans and Turkey. The overall objective is relevant to the global objective of the Call for Proposals which aims to contribute to the promotion of free and professional media in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

It is intended to address the main problems and challenges in the Western Balkans identified in the Feasibility Study for the Establishment of a Regional Program in Media and Journalism Training – poor professional skills among journalists; limited training capacity at a high proficiency level for mid-career journalists; lack of financial resources in most of the media sector, especially for investigations; and limited penetration of the investigative stories that are published.


Specific Objectives

The specific objective of the action is to enhance media trust among citizens and create a safe environment for journalists to produce independent news content through trainings, mentoring, technical and financial support, publishing and recognising best examples of quality journalism.


Main Activities

National Trainings are set to enhance the skills of journalists both basic and advance, as well as to boost partnerships between trained journalists and stakeholders, providers of professional trainings for journalists, organisations supporting media, CSOs, etc.

During the course of 36 months, the 12 national trainings will be organised (2 trainings per country) in collaboration with local partners.

Regional training on investigative journalism for local journalists aim is to enhance the efficiency and skills of journalists, as well as to develop a scalable course curriculum for advanced journalism.

Digital Security Lab is planned to be a resource platform for investigative journalists, aiming to provide them with the tools and services that will help journalists breach the technological gap between their skills and an investigative story.

A study trip for up to 20 editors to one of the major media outlets in Europe with a highly-developed investigative newsroom is also planned.

Production and publishing of quality news and investigative stories in mainstream media and Public Service Media has a strong focus on involving these segments of the media into quality news production and investigative reporting.

Production of cross-border investigations is set to boost cooperation between journalists in the Western Balkans region, and increase their knowledge and skills through joint cooperation on cross-border investigative stories.

Training and curriculum development for investigative journalism in academia will include developing a curriculum on investigative journalism both for journalism students, and for students interested either in investigative journalism, or in the methodology of investigative journalism.

Training of Trainers aims to help providers of professional training for journalists improve their own training capacities, and improve their editorial standards in quality news and investigative journalism.

EU Award Scheme is the continuation of the ongoing regional EU Investigative Journalism Award in the Western Balkans and Turkey. Through the award scheme, 63 prizes will be awarded over the course of 36 months, three in each project country.


Main Implementer

BIRN Hub


Partners

Thomson Media gGmbH (TM), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Central European University (CEU CMDS), the Media Association of South-East Europe (MASEE), the Center for Investigative Journalism of Montenegro (CIN CG), the Independent Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers in Macedonia (SSNM), BIRN Albania and BIRN Serbia.

Accurate and Ethical Reporting in Online and Televised Journalism

BIRN Kosovo

Through this project, BIRN Kosovo aims to empower young journalists and lawyers in Kosovo, through capacity-building training courses on accuracy and ethical reporting, access to public documents, and the consequences of inaccurate reporting, among other subjects.

Summary

Through this project, BIRN Kosovo aims to empower young journalists and lawyers in Kosovo, through capacity-building training courses on accuracy and ethical reporting, access to public documents, and the consequences of inaccurate reporting, among other subjects.

Information Sheet

Donor:

Funded by Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, led by Kosovo Cicil Society Foundation (KCSF)

Main Objective:

Increasing the capacity and professionalism of students of law and journalism in journalistic reporting, access to data, and the legal consequences of incorrect reporting.

Specific Objectives: 

  • Increasing capacities of young students of law and journalism in fair journalistic reporting, compiling requests for access to public documents, and the legal consequences of inaccurate reporting;
  • Raising awareness and public debate about fair journalistic reporting and the safety of journalists.

Main Activities:

  • Organising seven training sessions with young journalism and law students on journalistic ethics and the legal consequences of incorrect reporting;
  • Offering legal assistance on access to public documents for journalism and law students;
  • Distributing 15 scholarships to students of journalism and law universities for conducting joint investigations;
  • Editing and publishing 15 investigations in cooperation with students who won the scholarships;
  • Producing two TV debates through the TV programmes “Life in Kosovo” and “Justice in Kosovo” on the topic of journalists’ security and accurate and impartial reporting;
  • Producing 5 long articles in Krypometër on the accuracy of information.

Target Groups:

  • Students of journalism and law;
  • Marginalised gender and ethnic groups;
  • Civil society.

Highlights:

  • 124 students were trained in Improving Research Reporting Standards Through Joint Experiences. The students were from different educational backgrounds, mainly from Journalism and Law. The training included students from the municipalities of Prishtina, Gjilan, Prizren and Mitrovica.
  • BIRN Kosovo distibuted 15 scholarships to students interested in investigating on and publishing a journalistic story while applying high journalistic standards;
  • BIRN Kosovo opened its legal office to assist students of Journalism and Law with access to public documents, with the aim of verifying facts.

 

Empowering Women to Seek Their Inheritance Rights

BIRN Kosovo

The project aims to educate, raise awareness and empower women about their property rights. Through TV, online publishing and social media, BIRN will reach out to women and men of all ages and ethnic backgrounds throughout Kosovo.

Summary

In addition to raising awareness, the activities also address the unsatisfactory level of implementation of the law, and the prolonged judicial procedures that discourage women from seeking their rights.

Information Sheet

Donor:

Funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), managed by Advocacy Training and Resource Center (ATRC)

Main Objective:

Enhance awareness among women and men in Kosovo regarding property rights.

Specific Objectives: 

Increasing the public’s awareness of women’s property rights through impartial and objective reporting on women’s inheritance rights through televised and online reporting;
Monitoring the implementation of the legal obligation to register property in the names of both spouses by political representatives and policymakers;
Contributing to positively influencing policies related to women’s inheritance rights by initiating public discussion and providing concrete policy recommendations.

Main Activities:

A series of 10 articles on the current state of affairs in the implementation of the legal framework pertaining to women’s inheritance rights;

Producing two televised analyses to be broadcast on the television programme Justice in Kosovo;

Publishing 4 extensive research papers in Gazeta Jeta ne Kosove;

Organising 2 roundtables to discuss the legislation pertaining to women’s inheritance;

Publishing five extensive legal analyses in Gazeta Jeta ne Kosove;

Drafting proposals for amendments to laws.

Target Groups:

The main target group for the programme ‘Engagement for Equity’ is women from ages 18-65. BIRN will target the stakeholders involved in judicial cases, while an extended target group will be the general public.

 

Contributing to Strengthening Independent, Investigative and Publicly Beneficial Journalism and Freedom of Expression in Kosovo

BIRN Kosovo

Through the project Support to Civil Society and Media Initiatives, financed by the European Union Office in Kosovo, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN Kosovo and the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK, have teamed up for a project that aims to target and assist journalists and media houses/organisations to improve their investigative and analytical skills as well as increase efficiency, transparency and the accountability of the media regulatory bodies.

Summary

Through the project Support to Civil Society and Media Initiatives, financed by the European Union Office in Kosovo, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN Kosovo and the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK, have teamed up for a project that aims to target and assist journalists and media houses/organisations to improve their investigative and analytical skills as well as increase efficiency, transparency and the accountability of the media regulatory bodies.

Information Sheet

Donor:

European Union Office in Kosovo

Main Objective:

The overall objective of the project is to strengthen Kosovo’s media sector to fulfill its role in the democratic environment by acting as an independent interlocutor, to monitor public institutions, and to contribute to increased accountability and transparency in policy development and decision-making processes.

Specific Objectives: 

Through this project, BIRN Kosovo and AJK aim to improve the internal governance of the Press Council of Kosovo (PCK), while supporting investigative journalism through training sessions, internships, a fellowship programme for journalistic excellence, including a sub-granting scheme for media organisations to produce impartial, fair, and unbiased journalism. Additionally, BIRN Kosovo and AGK aim to improve the understanding and implementation of FOI, Defamation, Whistleblowing, Copyright and other media-related laws.

Main Activities:

  • Production and publication of news content for print or online media, including investigations and analysis that include the usage of documents obtained through access to public documents and conversations with all parties involved in a story covering human rights, good governance, economic development, environment, the rule of law, and education;
  • Production and broadcast of radio or video material, through investigative reporting that covers human rights, good governance, economic development, environment, the rule of law, and education;
  • Production and broadcast of documentaries covering good governance, rule of law, environment, and economic development;
  • Designing and implementing social media campaigns targeting issues related to human rights, good governance, education, etc.;
  • Activities aiming to raise media literacy and human rights right issues, primarily targeting high school and university students.

Target Groups:

The project targets and assists journalists and media houses/organisations to improve their investigative and analytical skills as well as increase the efficiency, transparency and accountability of the media regulatory bodies.

Partners:

Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK)

 

Investigative Journalism in Higher Education

BIRN Kosovo

This project aims to strengthen investigative journalism in the higher education sector in Kosovo, in order to increase accountability and reduce irregularities within the education system.

Summary

This project aims to strengthen investigative journalism in the higher education sector in Kosovo, in order to increase accountability and reduce irregularities within the education system.

Information Sheet

Donor:

Kosovo Foundation for Open Society (KFOS)

Main Objective:

Fighting impunity, corruption and other irregularities in higher education in Kosovo.

Specific Objectives: 

  • Strengthening investigative journalism about the issue of higher education;
  • Training and guidance for journalists in investigating higher education issues;
  • Advocacy for punishing corruption, irregularities, and lack of integrity in higher education through investigative journalism.

Main Activities:

Workshops, investigative fellowships, advocacy, and monitoring of institutions through media coverage, and an award for journalism.

Target Groups:

  • Journalists;
  • Stakeholders in higher education in Kosovo and the region, including representatives of institutions and civil society;
  • General public

 

Technical Assistance to Public Service Media in the Western Balkans

BIRN Hub

The purpose of the Technical Assistance programme is to support the national public service media (PSM) of the Western Balkans in the development of long-term reform strategies for better management, accountability and financial sustainability.

Summary

The main outcomes to be achieved are to establish European standards with regard to funding models, the election and functioning of governing bodies; to design editorial guidelines and long-term strategies including internal management reforms; to develop and implement action plans for setting up integrated newsrooms; to introduce mechanisms for co-producing programmes and news on selected topics (e.g. investigative journalism) as well as for the regional exchange of digitised archive materials.

Donor

European Commission – DG NEAR D.5

Main Objective

The project aims to revitalise the region’s public broadcasting sector and bring new confidence to the key stakeholders involved.

Specific Objectives

The project has three specific objectives: firstly, it aims to reestablish European standards and promote best practice at the six public service media organisations in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, with a particular focus on helping them to achieve financial autonomy from the state and greater accountability to the public.

It works on seeking consensus on the principles and practice for sustainable funding models as well as on securing agreement on fair, transparent and accountable procedures for electing the members of governing bodies.

The project also works to generate synergies between the six broadcasters by initiating a new phase in ongoing reform processes and helping to formulate long-term strategies.

In addition, the programme is focused on the improved implementation of editorial policies and complaints mechanisms, which in some cases exist on paper only.

It will also support efforts to establish integrated newsrooms, to streamline newsgathering and production processes.

A further aspect to the project is work in the field of management reform, developing long-term strategies and mentoring their roll-out across multiple departments.

This will be complemented by an initiative to equip regulators with the skills to conduct or commission reliable surveys which will give programme-makers a better insight into audience needs.

The third objective of the technical assistance programme is to expand cooperation in programme-making between the six public service media organisations, ensuring that they can pool resources and share audiovisual materials in a more effective way.

Main Activities

The project goals will be achieved by building the capacity necessary to produce in-depth investigative reports as well as high-quality programming for children and young people.

The project also seeks to introduce new interactive formats which optimise the potential for audience engagement.

In addition to this, a regional platform will be created for sharing archive material between the broadcasters, enriching factual programming and encouraging further collaboration.

The training and mentoring programme led by BIRN addresses some of the shortcomings inherent in mainstream media across the Western Balkans – low levels of professional skills, an absence of continued mid-career training, and indirect or direct outside influence which prevents the broadcasting of stories which conflict with the interests of local power-brokers.

Target Groups

The primary target group are the six PSBs in the Western Balkans, and the secondary target groups are the ministries and parliamentary committees dealing with media policy, regulatory bodies, self-regulatory bodies and relevant NGOs dealing with the freedom of the media.

Main Implementer

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

Partners

BIRN Hub, European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Austrian public broadcaster ORF, the Office of the Eurovision News Exchange for South-East Europe (ERNO), European Federation of Journalists.

Resonant Voices Initiative

BIRN Hub

Resonant Voices Initiative (RVI) is a network of journalists, activists, and community leaders who challenge dangerous messages online, map online radicalisation trends, and provides training, mentoring, and technical support to counternarrative campaigns.

Summary

RVI counters dangerous messages that include terrorist propaganda, hate speech, disinformation, harassment, and intimidation. Online amplification and distribution tools has made targeting vulnerable audiences with manipulated and weaponised information possible at an unprecedented scale, increasing the risk of harm to individuals and communities, especially in post-conflict societies. The aim of the RVI is to empower a diverse group of civil society actors – activists, journalists, bloggers, educators, and other online (and offline) influencers – to strategically engage in online and offline communication campaigns, utilising technology, together with a deep understanding of their communities, to produce compelling content that effectively pushes back against polarising, inflammatory, and radicalising discourse.

From 2018, the Resonant Voices Initiative will expand its focus to the Western Balkan diaspora communities living in the EU.

Donor

European Union, Internal Security Fund – Police

Main Objective

The project’s general objective is to strengthen the influence of credible voices that challenge extremist propaganda by targeting audiences vulnerable to radicalisation within the Western Balkans diaspora in the EU.

Specific Objectives

–         To reach vulnerable segments of the Western Balkan diaspora living in the EU through a comprehensive and previously tested approach – a strategic communications model in response to radicalising influences leading to violent extremism, based on research, multi-stakeholder consultations, collaborative prototyping, and rigorous audience assessment and impact testing.

–         To provide credible, alternative, and positive narratives exposing and challenging online and offline extremist messaging and targeting of the Western Balkan diaspora.

–         To explore, address, and reduce the influence of push-and-pull factors of online extremist content among the Western Balkan diaspora.

–         To promote tolerance and the EU’s fundamental values among the targeted audience.

Main Activities

–         An in-depth audience research will be conducted with the aim to better understand the motivations, circumstances, and context that drives recruitment to violent extremism among the target audience. The research will also aim to identify gaps, shortcomings, and good practices in addressing extremist content, in the countering of extremist propaganda. Data will be collected to map online content and online behaviours of the target audience and their exposure to different types of narratives and problematic content, as well as existing or emerging counter-speech efforts.

–        The Resonant Voices Fellowship will create a pool of investigative journalists and reporters who will be able to competently and sensitively report on subject matters relating to extremist radicalisation and violence, as well as explore and investigate issues and influences driving online  extremist propaganda and other information manipulation efforts.

–         An online communication campaign to provide an alternative or counter narrative for a well-defined target audience that is vulnerable to radicalisation. This will be combined, where appropriate, with off-line activities, which will be designed and implemented. The project will strive to develop the capacities of local beneficiaries to meaningfully challenge extremist narratives by creating and distributing compelling content, using various creative communication techniques.

–         Based on the research, investigative reports, practical testing, and fieldwork conducted as part of this project, recommendations and other relevant findings will be compiled and further disseminated and used as guides in future Europe-wide efforts to counter violent extremism. These will be particularly for experts and practitioners engaged through initiatives of the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) and the Civil Society Empowerment Programme (CSEP).

Target Groups

Audiences vulnerable to radicalisation and recruitment within the Western Balkans diaspora in the EU.

Main Implementer

Stichting Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA) – Netherlands.

Partners

Foundation Propulsion Fund – Serbia

Balkan Investigative Reporting Regional Network (BIRN Hub) – Bosnia and Herzegovina

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)