Programme

Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence

Through its Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme, BIRN works within the region to foster quality reporting, initiate regional networking among journalists and advance balanced coverage on topics that are central to the region as well as to the EU.

Location: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Romania and Serbia Duration: 2007 - Present

Summary

The programme provides training and networking for 10 journalists from the region every year, each of whom produces an investigative or analytical article with regional relevance.

Fellowship journalists receive training and editorial support from the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network’s team of editors, as well as a bursary of €2,000 and additional travel and research funding of up to €2,000.

The reporters attend seminars in Vienna and in the region, and enjoy extensive republication of their articles in regional and international print and online media, as well as a chance to win monetary awards.

Fellows are given a unique opportunity to network with other fellows, alumni and international experts.

This programme is very competitive and receives more than 100 applications annually, while the number of republications of the participants' articles has grown every year, reaching an average of 500 republications in the region and abroad.

BIRN promotes the journalists and their work, securing public recognition and increasing the visibility of the programme.

In addition, the BIRN team strengthens the Alumni network through bi-annual meetings and a small grants scheme for quality content production.

Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence was initiated in 2007 by ERSTE Foundation and Robert Bosch Stiftung, in cooperation with BIRN.

Since 2014 it is supported by the ERSTE Foundation and Open Society Foundations, while the Robert Bosch Stiftung remains committed to the development of the programme alumni initiative. 

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
  • foster quality reporting,
  • initiate regional networking among journalists and
  • advance balanced coverage on topics that are central to the region as well as to the EU
Specific Objectives:
  • To provide training and networking for 10 journalists from the region each year
  • To produce 10 investigative or analytical articles with regional relevance
  • To promote journalists and their work, securing public recognition and the visibility of the programme
  • To strengthen the alumni network through bi-annual meetings and a small grants scheme for quality content production
Main Activities:
  • Training for journalists
  • Production and publishing of quality content
  • Strengthening regional network of journalists
  • Promotion of programme findings through dissemination of articles and organization of public discussions
Target Groups:
  • Journalists from targeted countries
Highlights:
  • In 2011 alone four alumni and fellows were awarded for the outstanding results in their work. Adrian Mogos received the CEI SEEMO Award for Outstanding Merits in Investigative Journalism and the Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism; Marius Cosmeanu and Ivan Angelovski were awarded with the Milena Jesenska fellowship; and Stevan Dojcinovic received the Daniel Pearl – Raising Star Award, as part of the OCCRP project team.
  • Alumni fellows participated in some of the most prestigious media and political conferences organized in the region and the EU (Commission on Media Policy, Political Forum Alpbach, Global Investigative Journalism Conference)
  • Romania’s national journalistic competition Superscrieri has given awards to Elena Stancu and Vlad Odobescu, both 2013 fellows of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.
  • In December 2013 three awards were given to the alumni from Kosovo - Selvije Bajrami was honored for contribution to the fight against the corruption by the UN Development Programme in Kosovo and Arbana Xharra was presented by KOHA Group with " Rexhai Surroi " award for journalism for the series of articles "Kosovo alarmed by conservative extremists ", while organization INPO Ferizaj awarded her with the "Stirring Debate", for sparking debate in society on difficult topics, including religious radicalism.
  • Sorana Stanescu, alumnus from Romania, has won the 2013 Academic Association for Contemporary European Studies, UACES award for her article ‘Cheap and Far from Free’ produced through the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence Project
  • Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme and its editor Neil Arun have been nominated for the European Press Prize 2012 in the Innovation Award category for the outstanding innovation of the year
  • Adrian Mogos, a Romanian journalist and Fellowship alumnus was nominated for the European Press Prize 2012 in News Reporting Award category, for the reporter or specialist expert whose work has made a decisive impact
  • Number of alumni fellows were awarded for their work in 2012, including Stevan Dojcinovic who has won the prestigious “Jug Grizelj” award for investigative journalism.
  • A 2015 alumna of the BIRN Hub Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme received a commendation from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in Albania, UN Women, for the “creation of a professional model of investigative journalism for the reporting on trafficking of women and girls”.
  • Following publication of a story about women in Romania and Bulgaria enduring low pay, long hours and gruelling work to make clothes for luxury Western clothing brands – produced as part of BIRN Hub’s Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence 2015 programme – Labour inspection issued three fines for one of the factories in Romania.