The Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence has gathered 35 alumni from nine countries of the region in the Macedonian capital Skopje.
The award ceremony, honouring the work of the 2012 fellows, was held on Friday, November 23.
"I will never forget the feeling when I was awarded, it was really special moment for me," said Majlinda Aliu who won the first place in 2011 for her story about the Balkan war widows.
On Saturday the alumni had an opportunity to see the newly revamped Skopje. They were taken for a guided tour to see dozen new buildings and numerous monuments and sculptures, new bridges as well as hear about the controversies related to the costly project that has now put Macedonia on the tourist map.
The alumni also attended a panel with Roberto Belicanec of the Media Development Centre and Xhabir Deralla from the NGO Civil and a discussion about the current political situation in Macedonia, the deteriorating state of media and freedom of speech as well as the fragile inter- ethnic relations.
"I did not know much about the situation in Macedonia before, but now I am inspired to come back here with the TV crew and make a piece about it," said Jelena Kulidzan, a journalist and editor from Montenegro, awarded with the second price in 2011
The same day, the group discussed future alumni activities and models of cooperation, including the joint regional reporting projects.
"It is great seeing all of us together, this network is the biggest asset of the programme and I really enjoy being in touch with the likeminded group of professionals," said Nenad Radicevic, a fellow from 2007.
The idea to hold annual alumni meetings came about as a result of interest by former fellows to continue to jointly contribute to the goal of promoting excellence in journalism in the Balkans.
The alumni initiative is supported by Erste Stiftung and the Robert Bosch Foundation, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.
An investigation by BIRN Editor Lawrence Marzouk and local journalists in Albania and Serbia has received widespread republications and praise in the Albanian press and broadcast media.
BIRN journalists Nektar Zogjani and Tinka Kurti were awarded the first prize for online investigative journalism about poverty by UNDP and the Journalists Association of Kosovo.
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania launched a call for investigative stories on October 23rd.
The call is part of the program ‘Exposing Corruption in Albania,’ supported by th Open Society Foundation in Albania (OSFA), the Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
Power Games, an unprecedented investigation into the murky world of energy deals in the Balkans, has been launched by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Albania organised a roundtable on October 21st in Tirana, bringing together journalists with civil society organisations working in the field of education.
BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina will hold the US premiere of its latest documentary, ‘Missing You’, on Thursday October 23 at Columbia University in New York.
The German government organization GIZ awarded Gazeta Jeta në Kosovë for investigative journalism about education.
BIRN Serbia held a public debate on the prospects of new models of budgetary financing for the media with NGO and media representatives in Novi Pazar, southwest Serbia.
The key conclusion from the debate in Belgrade on Tuesday was that the recently-published EU Progress Report on Serbia was not too hard on the Serbian government, but it does not mention many problems and some of the conclusions and recommendations are identical to the 2013 Progress Report.
BIRN’s documentary The Majority Starts Here was screened for the first time in the United States on Thursday, at Columbia University in New York.