Programme

Advancing Sustainability of Independent Online Investigative Journalism

BIRN's advancing sustainability project promotes the democratisation process in the region by training journalists and publishing quality content.

Location: The Balkans Duration: 2010 - 2013

Summary

BIRN works to improve the content of reporting in the region, allowing the organisation to continue to serve as an independent, reliable, high quality platform for journalists, media outlets and others.

In addition to BIRN's daily publishing efforts, the project aims to raise the visibility of important topics in the Balkans through special focus pages on www.balkainsight.com, while strengthening the editorial team in Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, BIRN works to develop commercialization activities to secure the organisation's sustainability.

The training and publishing portion of the project includes on the job and workshop training for at least 70 journalists annually for news reporting, analytical and investigative reporting. BIRN edits and publishes an open content daily news service on www.balkaninsight.com (15 news stories daily from Balkan countries).

In addition, BIRN publishes annually at least 300 analyses, features and investigations under its premium content offered for a subscription fee. BIRN translates chosen content and republishes it in local media outlets.

BIRN also offers specialized coverage of the Radovan Karadzic trial, regional coverage of transitional justice and reporting on the Balkan countries' EU accession process and corruption issues.

As part of its commercialisation efforts, BIRN has launched a new Content Management System. BIRN has created a subscription and advertising sales team and a research and profiling unit, and the web platform now includes online advertising.

BIRN's web content is syndicated, and a regional classifieds section advertises job opportunities. BIRN also publishes Belgrade Insight and Pristina Insight newspapers.

The direct beneficiary of the advancing sustainability project is the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, which is able to provide the most comprehensive online news platform in the region on Balkan political, economic and social affairs.

In turn this enables over 200 journalists, opinion makers, policy makers, and civil society actors to address the need for objective, quality, consistent and continuous reporting on complex issues of regional, political, economic and EU integration challenges.

This project aims to improve the skills of journalists who will then be able to contribute to the overall capacity building of the media and find employment in their profession. The project also benefits the general public in the Balkans and in other countries by providing reporting about the region that is not generally available from other media outlets.

The Advancing Sustainability project is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Balkan Trust for Democracy and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
  • Promote the democratisation process in the region by training, plublishing and developiong technical performance, and consequently improving the content of the media
  • Provide BIRN with the capacity to continue serving as an independent, reliable, high quality media platform for journalists, media organisations and the civil society
Specific Objectives:
  • To raise visibility of important topics in the Balkans through special focus pages on BIRN's flagship publication, BalkanInsight.com;
  • To strengthen editorial team in Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • To develop commercialization activities which would secure organisations additional sustainability.
Main Activities:

Training and publishing:

  • on the job training, or worshops training for at least 70 journalists annually  for news reporting, analytical and investigative level reporting.
  • Editing and Publishing  an open content  daily news service on the web site (15 news daily) from Balkan countries
  • Publishing  at least 300 analyses. features/investigations on the web site, annually, as a premium content offered for subscriptions.
  • Translating chosen content and republishing it in local media.
  • Offer specialist coverage of the Radovan Karadzic trial, regional coverage of transitional justice issues, EU accession obsstacles  and corruption issues.

 

Comercialisation:

  • Programming New Content Management System;
  • Online Advertising;
  • Developing a subscription and advertising sales team;
  • Syndication of web content;
  • Developing Research  and Profiling unit;
  • Establishing  a regional classifieds section for jobs opportunities;
  • Belgrade Insight and Pristina Insight newspapers.
Target Groups:
  • Provide comprehensive online news platform in the region on political, economic and social affairs;
  • Enable journalists, opinion-makers, policy makers, and civil society actors to address the need of objective, quality, consistent and continuous reporting on complex issues of regional political, economic and EU integration challenges;
  • Journalists whose skills will be improved, and who will be able to contribute to the overall capacity building of the media, but also find employment in their profession;
  • Public at a large, through having information they usually can not get about their neighbours and the region in general.
Highlights:
  • At least 170 journalists received on-the-job and formal workshops trainings in a previous year;
  • From January 2010 until July 2011 BIRN team produced: around 6000 news articles, 846 premium articles, 449 analysis, 57 interviews, 20 investigations, 85 comments, 133 features, 83 profiles;
  • Only in June 2011 Balkan Insight had more than 340,700 page views,  while  1160 web sites have taken the links of Balkan Insight stories;
  • Balkan Insight at the moment has 15 Special Focus pages created: EU Focus, Kosovo Organ Trafficking,   Culture Watch, Transitional Justice, Radovan Karadzic on Trial, Visa Liberalization, Kosovo-Serbia dispute, Macedonia name dispute, Spotlight on South Serbia, Turkey and the Balkans, Albania Political Crisis, Bosnia Elections 2010, Macedonia Elections 2011, Albania Elections 2011, Ratko Mladic Facing Justice;
  • BIRN team has disseminated five different types of newsletters, around 1,000 in total, to more than 33,000 email addresses;
  • Small web management team succeeded to create and support 9 different BIRN web sites.

Awards:

  • Balkan Insight featured an investigation by Romanian journalist Adrian Mogos, who won Kurt Schork ward for international journalism in 2010 and CEI SEEMO Award for Outstanding Merits in Investigative Journalism.
  • Lawrence Marzouk and Petrit Collaku won first prize for written investigative journalism for a story titled Kosovo Minister’s Friends Flourish From Road Bonanza
  • BIRN investigative journalists, Alban Selimi, Lawrence Marzouk, and Petrit Collaku, were awarded first prize for anti-corruption in the category of television and print journalism. Alban Selimi won first prize for television investigative journalism.
  • Two alumni of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence have been short-listed for the 2011 Dusko Jovanovic International Award for Investigative Journalism for their investigations produced within the Balkan Fellowship programme - Adrian Mogos from Romania, has been nominated for his investigation, published that year, Forged Identity: Highway to the EU and Jeton Musliu from Kosovo was nominated for his investigation, published that year, Kosovars Turn Blind Eye to Fake Foreign Marriages.
  • Other two alumni of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence have been selected for the Milena Jesenská Fellowships for Journalists - Ivan Angelovski, TV B92, Belgrade, will work on his research project Sexual Abuse in Western and Eastern Church and its Impact on Religion in the EU and the Rest of Europe in Vienna from October to December 2011, while Marius Cosmeanu, CULT Magazine, Bucharest, will be in Vienna working on The Alchemy of the Last Meal, the Culture of Capital Punishment in Eastern and Western Europe from January to March 2012.