BIRN Cited in International Reports

Monitoring reports produced by BIRN and articles published in its regional publication Balkan Insight continue to be quoted in international reports about media, human rights and politics in the region.

Freedom House’s annual country reports for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Moldova, published in Nations in Transit 2018 under the title ‘Confronting Illiberalism’ in April this year, quote Balkan Insight articles on transitional justice, inter-ethnic relations, politics, the economy and the situation in the media

The Media Sustainability Index for 2017 published by IREX in May, in its Europe and Eurasia section, mentions BIRN when describing the media situation in the region, specifically media freedom, lawsuits against media organisations and journalists, as well as BIRN’s reporting on corruption and its training programmes.

The US State Department report for 2017 on human rights in Albania, published in April, quotes BIRN Albania’s research about media censorship in the country. The report also mentions that in 2017 a member of the High Council of Justice, Gjin Gjoni, filed defamation lawsuits against two BIRN journalists and two journalists from Shqiptarja.com for their coverage of his asset declaration, which was being investigated by prosecutors.

In the Media Landscape – Serbia report, published by the European Journalism Centre in May, the results of the Media Ownership Monitor carried out by BIRN and Reporters without Borders Germany, as well as articles related to media published by Balkan Insight, are quoted throughout the.

Read more:

BIRN Articles Quoted in International Reports

BIRN Cited as Source in International Reports

Montenegrin Journalists to Investigate Environmental Issues

Three journalists from Montenegrin media have been selected to carry out multimedia journalistic investigations on the subjects of environment and sustainable development, which are covered by the Chapter 27 in the EU negotiation process.

Irena Rasovic, a journalist from public broadcaster Radio and Television of Montenegro, Matija Otasevic, a journalist from TV Vijesti, and Mustafa Canka, a freelance journalist from Ulcinj, were selected at the training course held in Podgorica after presenting their investigation proposals.

The investigative stories that were selected have a regional character and will deal with issues affecting not only the environment in Montenegro, but in neighboring countries as well.

A mixed domestic and international team will work with the selected journalists. All the stories will be published in the local and English language and will have multimedia component.

A call for investigative stories with an environmental angle was launched in March as part of a project 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.

Along with selected stories, journalists from CIN Montenegro and Monitor will publish a number of other investigations related to the environment and sustainable development within the project Media Investigations: Stop to READ (Regional Environmental Acts of Devastation).

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

The project started on March 1 and will continue for 14 months.

BFJE 2018 kicks off in Vienna

Fake news merchants, corrupt officials and political thugs are just a few of the targets in the crosshairs of journalists chosen for the 2018 Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.

In its 12th year, the fellowship began with a four-day seminar in Vienna that brought together 10 new fellows from across the region, all committed to tackling this year’s theme: TRUTH.

Chosen from around 100 applications, they come from Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania and Greece.

Supported by ERSTE Foundation and Open Society Foundations and run in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, the fellowship aims to promote the highest standards of journalism. It gives mid-career reporters the funding and editorial support to pursue investigative stories that cut across borders.

Over the next four months, fellows will carry out in-depth reporting as they try to untangle the webs of power, influence and money that envelope their proposed stories.

In Vienna, they received practical tips from BFJE Editor Timothy Large on how to research, report and write long-form articles for international impact.

They then hammered out story ideas and reporting strategies during intensive editorial sessions with Timothy Large, Balkan Insight Editor Gordana Andric, BIRN Regional Network Director Marija Ristic and BFJE Programme Manager Dragana Obradovic.

The seminar also included a visit to the newsroom of Austrian daily Der Standard, a media partner of the programme, and a session on cross-border collaborative journalism by Brigitte Alfter, Managing Editor of Journalismfund.eu.

Barbara Trionfri, Executive Director of the International Press Institute, spoke on global press freedom and trends in media development while Gordana Andric from Balkan Insight shared pointers on multimedia storytelling.

This year’s fellows are Arlis Alikaj (Albania), Iona Burtea (Romania), Claudia Ciobanu (Romania), Alexander Clapp (Greece), Ivana Jeremic (Serbia), Lorelei Mihala (Romania), Andrea Milat (Croatia), Andjela Milivojevic (Serbia), Leonida Molliqai (Kosovo) and Dusica Pavlovic (Montenegro).

BBC and Al Jazeera English release BIRN-backed documentaries

The BBC and Al Jazeera English have produced investigative documentaries in recent months working alongside BIRN’s in-house investigative team.

BIRN has collaborated with the BBC and Al Jazeera English in recent months to investigate the far-right in the Balkans and a secretive arms pipeline to Syria.

The Al Jazeera English probe built on BIRN and OCCRP’s award-winning series of investigations, Making a Killing http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/page/balkan-arms-trade, which delved into how Balkan weapons were flooding the Syrian battlefields.

The “America’s Guns: Secret Pipeline to Syria” documentary was first broadcast in March on Al Jazeera’s People and Power show and involved filming in Croatia, Bulgaria and the US.

The report brought BIRN’s findings to a wider audience, revealed the human cost of the scramble to train and equip US-backed Syrian militia.  BIRN published two articles on the back of the research:  Death in Bulgaria: Pentagon Contractor’s Widow Fights For Truth and US Splurges More Cash on Balkans Arms for Syria.

On May 1, the BBC and BIRN published the fruits of its collaboration into the British nationalists operating in the Balkans. The BBC produced television and radio documentaries focussing on “the invisible man of Britain’s far right” – Jim Dowson – and his activities in Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia and Kosovo: Is this Britain’s most influential far-right activist?

BIRN released its own investigation, focussing on how Jim Dowson and an organisation he is closely linked to are increasingly active in Serbia: British Nationalist Trains Serb Far-Right for ‘Online War.

As part of the research, BIRN also employed a cyber forensic expert Andrej Petrovski of the Share Foundation, who is helping journalists improve their investigations by using cutting edge technologies.

These collaborations are part of BIRN’s Paper Trail to Better Governance programme, funded by the Austrian Development Agency.

BIRN Reports Nominated for Investigative Awards in Serbia

Two BIRN reports have been nominated for this year’s Investigative awards from the Independent Journalistic Association of Serbia in the categories for on-line media.

The first is The Coyote’s Trail – A Machine Gun’s Path from Serbia to Syria, produced within BIRN Hub’s project Paper Trail for Better Governance and in cooperation with OCCRP, and written by Ivan Angelovski, Jelena Cosic, Lawrence Marzouk and Maria Cheresheva.

It explores how heavy machine guns travelled from a Serbian state-owned factory to Syrian rebels, via a Bulgarian arms tycoon and a Saudi training camp.

The second is BIRN Serbia’s investigative story (part one and two) about illegal construction at the Kopaonik National Park, written by Slobodan Georgiev.

The report shows that a building under construction did not fall into line with the directions of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia.

The report initiated a rapid-response inspection by the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure of Serbia, which ordered the investor to knock down the building and clean up the area, which lies at the highest point of Kopaonik mountain. A restaurant was built at the site despite the order, but the case is still ongoing.

Journalists Trained for Environmental Investigations in Montenegro

BIRN, CIN Montenegro and Monitor magazine held a training course in Podgorica from April 26-28 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.

A call for investigative stories with an environmental angle was launched in March as part of a project to strengthen investigative reporting in Montenegro, founded by the EU Delegation in Podgorica.

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.

The journalists will have nine months to dig deeper and research their ideas, and will also have the opportunity to work with experienced editors as their mentors to guide them through the process of writing to BIRN standards.

Between Pressures and Praises – BIRN Network Annual Report 2017

The report shows what the organisation did to offer high quality journalistic work and to provide citizens with reliable, timely and in-depth reporting as well as BIRN’s contribution to improving media freedom and openness of public institutions.

It also highlights the instances in which BIRN’s work had a strong political and social impact, showing that—despite difficulties—professional journalistic reporting can conclude in tangible results.

The whole report is available here [link].

Between Pressures and Praises – BIRN Network Annual Report 2017

In 2017, BIRN Network operated in an environment of declining media freedoms and unregulated media markets, where authorities and pro-governmental media outlets pressured members of the Network and its journalists; nevertheless, BIRN received national and international prizes as well as different kinds of informal praise.

An unfavourable media situation and the lack of proper cooperation with institutions—sometimes even hostile attitude towards BIRN—occasionally hinders the work of the organisation. However, through this report, we also underscore the best results of BIRN’s work, including the praise it has received.

The report shows what the organisation did to offer high quality journalistic work and to provide citizens with reliable, timely and in-depth reporting as well as BIRN’s contribution to improving media freedom and openness of public institutions. It also highlights the instances in which BIRN’s work had a strong political and social impact, showing that—despite difficulties—professional journalistic reporting can conclude in tangible results.

The whole report is available here [link].

Balkan Insight Cited in Books and International Studies

BIRN’s regional publication Balkan Insight has been quoted in a number of books and international studies on transitional justice, geopolitics, social and minority issues during 2017 and 2018.

Balkan Insight was quoted in ‘Some Kind of Justice: the ICTY’s Impact in Bosnia and Serbia’, published in 2018 by the prestigious Oxford University Press.

The author is Diane Orentlicher, professor of international law at Washington College of Law, American University.

The book focuses on the UN war crime court’s impact on victims’ experience of justice, on accountability processes, and on official, elite, and community discourses about the wars.

Another book focusing on transitional justice issues that cited Balkan Insight was ‘Replicating Atonement: Foreign Models in the Commemoration of Atrocities’, published in 2017.

In the book, regional and country studies cover post-conflict experiences of Argentina, Canada, Japan, Lebanon, Rwanda, Russia, Turkey, the United States and the former Yugoslavia.

Balkan Insight was also cited in ‘Tourism and Geopolitics – Issues and Concepts from Central and Eastern Europe’, edited by Derek Hall and published in 2017.

The book explores relationships between tourism and geopolitics in the Central and Eastern Europe.

Other publications from 2017 and 2018  that cited Balkan Insight texts include ‘Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Genocide and Memory’, edited by Jutta Lindert and Armen T. Marsoobian and published by Springer International Publishing, and ‘Liquid Nationalism and State Partitions in Europe’ by Stefano Bianchini, published by Edward Elgar Publishing.

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.