BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting

Pack a notebook and perhaps some hiking shoes and join BIRN for a unique Summer School of Investigative Reporting from August 22nd – 28th within the Petrovaradin Fortress and in the stunning Fruska Gora National Park.

 

BIRN is gathering leading journalists and trainers, both from the Balkans and internationally to provide informative, insightful and entertaining training focused on investigative, computer-assisted and organised crime and corruption journalism, in print and broadcast media.

Confirmed speakers include renowned trainers and presenters Don Ray, Nick Thorpe,  Mark Hunter, Luuk Sengers, Maunela Mareso and the OCCRP training team with Drew Sullivan, Rosemery Armao and Paul Radu.

The summer school will offer a full programme including exercises and round-tables on the changing face of Balkan media ownership, violence against media professionals, and more.

There will also be time to tour the beautiful orchards, vineyards, monasteries and forests in the Fruska Gora National Park.

Who should attend?

 

Mid-career journalists, from South East and Western Europe

Young journalists interested in finding out more about investigative reporting techniques.

Editors, interested in encouraging investigative reporting in their media outlets.

Representatives from higher education establishments, interested in incorporating investigative journalism into the curriculum.

Balkans-based International correspondents interested in finding out about the challenges faced by their regional colleagues.

Representatives of organisations involved in the fight against organised crime and corruption.

Working language

 

English 

Fees

 

The course fee of €549, is all-inclusive, covering tuition, room, meals and extra-curricular tours. The fee also includes BIRN’s newly published textbook “Digging Deeper: A Guide for Investigative Journalists in the Balkans”. (LINK)

Scholarships

A limited number of full and part scholarships will be available to exceptional candidates. These will be awarded on a merit and need basis and may additionally cover travel costs up to €100.

The low cost of the School and the scholarship programme have been made possible thanks to our generous sponsors, The Open Society Institute London and OSCE Serbia.

Eligibility criteria for Scholarships

South East European journalists

At least three years of experience in journalism

Applicants must supply a sample of their published work, translated into English

Application Deadline

Applications for scholarships must be received by 25 July, 2010. No application for an assisted place will be considered after this deadline. Selected participants will be announced on August 2nd.

Standard applications must be received by 9 August 2010.  Applications received by 10 July 2010 will be eligible for a reduction of €100 in the course fee.

All participants will receive a BIRN Summer School certificate.

Application procedure for all applicants

Completed application form

Letter of motivation

C.V.

Sample of work ( for scholarship applicants only)

Apply Now >>

First Balkan Fellowship Alumni Meeting in Becici

More than 20 journalists from the Balkan region and elsewhere gathered last weekend in the coastal resort of Becici, in Montenegro, for the first Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence Alumni Meeting.

Fellows from three generations met to get to know one another and exchange professional experiences and views about the situation on the Balkan media scene.
 
In the relaxed atmosphere of the Montenegrin resort, the participants had an opportunity to present highlights of their work and special projects to their alumni-colleagues and inform them about important awards and scholarships they had obtained and career advances they had made in connection with the Fellowship.
 
Two guests from Montenegro, Daliborka Uljarevic, from the Center for Civic Education, and Mihailo Jovovic, deputy editor of the daily newspaper Vijesti, led sessions on the media scene in their country and explained how the most important issues are covered, which then initiated a broader debate about the problems of the regional media landscape as a whole.
 
Issues such as the impact of political and financial pressure on the media, the decline of local media, the challenge of low advertising revenues and circulations and the over-dominant role in the market of public broadcasters were recognized as joint problems that media encounter throughout the region.
 
The meeting will be followed up by joint work among the Fellows on regional journalistic projects with the aim of fostering not only their individual professional development but their team spirit as well, and at the same time as providing quality information about issues that are common to the region.
 
The initiative to hold an alumni meeting was taken following numerous expressions of interest by former Fellows in continuing to jointly contribute to the goal of promoting excellence in journalism in the Balkans.

Visit the photo gallery from the meeting 

Balkan Fellowship Story Praised at the GIJC

An Investigative story, written by 2009 Fellow Adrian Mogos received an honorable mention at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference, held in Geneva in April 2010.

Forged Identity – Highway to EU, was nominated and short-listed among three finalists for the Global Shining Light Award. Adrian’s story, demonstrated the ease with which illegal immigrants can take on new identities with forged and falsified Romanian identity documents and gain access and settle in the EU. Adrian himself secured forged Romanian identity documents which he was able to use in Germany in order to set up a second ‘identity’ in the country.

The award was established in 2007 as an award for investigative journalism in a developing country or a country in transition, which was reported under threat, duress or in the direst of conditions.

The criteria was that the journalist, journalism team and/or media outlet has provided independent, investigative reporting, which
– Uncovered an issue, a wrong-doing and/or a system of corruption which gravely affected the common good, and
– Did so in the face of arrest, imprisonment, violence against them and their families, and/or threats and intimidation

The winner was The Poverty ’empire’ of the presidential family, conducted by a cross-border group of journalists that  exposed how the former president of Moldova, Vladimir Voronin, abused his power for personal financial gain.

Opening Seminar kicks off in Berlin

The Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme 2010 has been launched this Monday, April 26th, at the opening dinner attended by this year’s fellows and representatives of the Robert Bosh Foundation, Erste Foundation and BIRN.

In the course of the next five days, fellows will be introduced to the programme and the chosen topics of interest to the Balkans and the EU, such as demography and taboos related to population policy, or German Foreign policy towards Balkans. Also, they will receive practical tips from Fellowship programme editors related to their work on the projects, individually tailored assistance, insight to fact-checking, its importance and methodology, and in possibilities for on line presentation of their stories and multiplication their impact.

At the first day of the introductory seminar, fellows got to know each other through the bonding session, reflecting upon their careers, the motivation that brought them to the programme, their ambitions and personal interests. They were also introduced to the Fellowship programme stages, procedures and their obligations towards the programme, as well as the assistance that will be given to them throughout their work.  Practical guidelines related to planning, research and the writing were presented by BIRN regional director and editor in chief Gordana Igric. Head of the Berlin biro of the Robert Bosch Foundation, Sandra Breka, introduced fellows to the Foundation – host of the introductory seminar. The presentation included an overview of their work, programmatic areas and the life and philanthropic interest of its founder, Mr. Robert Bosch.

Nine fellows have been chosen to participate in the fourth year of the Fellowship programme, expressing enthusiasm for their work which will start immediately after the seminar, with three months of research, during which they will travel to neighboring countries and to the EU, exploring different aspects of their projects.

Unfortunately, Croatian journalist Rober Tomic  Zuber, had to give up on his participation in this year’s programme due to his busy schedule and numerous obligations towards his employer.

 

Regional Conference on Culture Held in Skopje

A regional cultural conference dubbed “The Balkans, Media and Culture – Time for Change” was held on Tuesday in Skopje and marked the start of the forthcoming three-year project: Balkan Initiative for Cultural Cooperation, Exchange and Development, BICCED.

The project is organised by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN and the South Eastern Europe Culture Portal, SEEcult.org. It is funded by the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans, SCP.

Distinguished experts and individuals involved in all aspects of cultural policy from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia took part in the discussion today, which aimed to pinpoint the main weaknesses of the local cultural scenes and the ways in which regional cooperation could help address these points.

“It is high time for change and improvement,” Zlatko Teodosievski from the Skopje based New Line\Compendium said in his speech at the conference.

The participants shared local experiences concerning media coverage of cultural events, the organisation of cultural institutions, freelance artists, property rights and other subjects.

Nihad Kresevljakovic from the MESS international theatre festival in Bosnia and Herzegovina noted that media across the region pay very little attention to cultural happenings, which are all too often either absent from their coverage or replaced with trivial information about pop stars.

“The most important paper in Bosnia and Herzegovina for years did not have a culture page,” Kresevljakovic said.

Piro Misha the director of Tirana- based Institute of Dialogue and Communication added that the media in his country mainly ignore cultural events and when they report on such happenings the coverage is often biased and incompetent.

Hristina Mikic from Belgrade University stressed the importance of comprehensive and updated laws on culture that are needed in order for change to happen in the stale public culture institutions which, she said, in many ways remain unchanged from the old socialist era.

Other participants included Dea Vidovic (Kulturpunkt, Zagreb), Mladen Bundalo (artist, Tac.ka, Prijedor), Veton Nurkollari (Dokufest, Prizren), Robert Alagjozovski (cultural operator, journalist and art critic, Skopje), Biljana Tanurovska-Kjulavkovski (Lokomotiva, Skopje), as well as representatives of other cultural institutions.

The participants also discussed the lack of quality cultural critics, the low quality of the translation of the books that are published in local languages, as well as copyright offences, which occur frequently.

The BICCED project aims to serve as a platform for future cultural cooperation among the countries in the region. It will also be focused on common cultural policy issues which can help the states evolve and develop in this area.

Journalists, media and culture organisations, as well as government representatives, shared their thoughts on how they can contribute to the project through various events such as trainings, researches, publications and open debates.

As part of the project’s aim to boost the visibility of culture in the region, ten journalists will be picked each year to participate in training activities. They will be able to compose articles on culture which will be published in media outlets in their own countries and across the region.
 

Regional Conference “Balkan, Media and Culture – Time for Change”

The regional conference “Balkan, Media and Culture – Time for Change” will be held on April 20, 2010 at the Kaproš hotel in Skopje, as part of the three-year project “Balkan Initiative for Cultural Cooperation, Exchange and Development” – BICCED, which will be implemented by the Balkan Investigative Regional Reporting Network and its partners, and funded by the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans (SCP).

The conference will be the opening event for the BICCED project, which aims to build a network of journalists and cultural organisations from the region, to focus on common cultural policy issues with the aim of reaching both the wider public and policy makers, and to contribute to the change and development of cultural policies both locally and regionally.

 

The conference will help in the preparation of an editorial strategy and the establishment of links between cultural organisations, experts and journalists from across the region, and several participants will be invited to form an advisory board, whose role will be to provide input into editorial strategy at annual meetings over the project’s three-year life cycle.

 

Among the participants of the conference will be representatives of the Ministry of Culture of Macedonia, the Swiss Embassy/Swiss Cooperation Office in Skopje and the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans, as well as approximately 20 representatives of cultural institutions/organisations from the region, and ten journalists selected for the first year of the project implementation.

 

The first part of the conference (Regional Cultural Policy – Exploring the Challenges), which will be open to media,  will give a general overview of cultural policies in the region and the main problems facing cultural organisations. The second part of the conference will be closed to the public and will consist of two moderated brainstorming sessions (What to report on and Networking strategy – using formal and informal communication tools to influence policy makers and opinion formers across the region). 

 

Speakers at the conference include Professor Primo Shllaku (Observatory of Culture, Tirana), Nihad Kresevljakovic (Festival MESS, Sarajevo), Vesa Sahatciu (Art critic, Pristina), Zlatko Teodosievski (Nova linija/Compendium, Skopje) and Hristina Mikic (Lecturer at theUniversity of Belgrade and the Higher School for Business Studies Novi Sad/Compendium, Novi Sad).

 

Among the participants of the conference are Piro Misha (publisher, Tirana), Mladen Bundalo (artist, Tac.ka, Prijedor), Veton Nurkollari (Dokufest, Prizren), Vala Osmani (Stacion), Darka Radosavljevic-Vasiljevic (Remont, Belgrade), Silvia Drazic (Art Clinic/Initiative Za kulturne politike, Novi Sad), Robert Alagjozovski (cultural operator, journalist and art critic, Skopje), Biljana Tanurovska-Kjulavkovski (Lokomotiva, Skopje), as well as representatives of several other cultural institutions and organisations from Skopje.

 

Guests participants include Dea Vidovic (Kulturpunkt, Zagreb), who will present Croatian experiences in networking in order to make changes in cultural policy, and Veronika Ratzenböck (Kulturdokumentation.internationales archiv für kulturanalysen, Wien) as observer.  

 

All sessions will be moderated by Gordana Igric (BIRN Regional Director), Dusica L.I. Cook (BIRN Project Manager) and Vesna Milosavljevic (SEEcult.org Director), and be followed by questions from the floor and discussion. The working language of the conference is English.

 

The expected outcomes will be action points and recommendations for further development of the project.

 

Please, find the attached Agenda.

Balkan Fellowship 2010 Results

We are very pleased to announce the names of the ten journalists selected for the 2010 Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence. This year’s competition was very tight as proposals received depicted the most interesting taboo issues throughout the Balkans. The Selection Committee has chosen the ten most exciting, interesting and relevant proposals from the 150 ideas submitted by journalists from across the region.

We are very pleased to announce the names of the ten journalists selected for the 2010 Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence. This year’s competition was very tight as proposals received depicted the most interesting taboo issues throughout the Balkans. The Selection Committee has chosen the ten most exciting, interesting and relevant proposals from the 150 ideas submitted by journalists from across the region.

The chosen journalists are:

 

  • Ervin Qafmolla from Albania
  • Mila Popova from Bulgaria
  • Doroteya Nicolova from Bulgaria
  • Robert Tomic from Croatia
  • Jeton Musliu from Kosovo
  • Majlinda Aliu from Kosovo
  • Ruzica Fotinovska from Macedonia
  • Mircea Opris from Romania
  • Georgiana Ilie from Romania
  • Ivan Angelovski from Serbia

 

These journalists will now become members of a growing network for journalistic excellence in the Balkans, receiving the mentoring of internationally recognized experts during their own research in order to produce the best in-depth articles with the possibility of world wide promotion and syndication. The initial phase includes an intensive programme of training, research and reporting, beginning with a week-long seminar in Berlin on April 27th and culminating in an awards ceremony at the end of the year in Vienna.

 

Updates on the fellows’ progress will be posted on the site regularly.

 

 

Belgrade meeting as a part of BICCED

Outdated laws in the field of culture, delays in adopting new legislation a lack of transparency, insufficient budget for cultural activity, partitocracy in cultural institutions – election of leaders based on political affiliation rather than expertise, a lack of tax benefits for investment in culture, poor regulations of the art market, vague criteria for the award of funds finance in ‘open competition’, a lack of long term financing for projects and institutions, marginalisation of productions in the independent cultural scene.

Outdated laws in the field of culture, delays in adopting new legislation a lack of transparency, insufficient budget for cultural activity, partitocracy in cultural institutions – election of leaders based on political affiliation rather than expertise, a lack of tax benefits for investment in culture, poor regulations of the art market, vague criteria for the award of funds finance in ‘open competition’, a lack of long term financing for projects and institutions, marginalisation of productions in the independent cultural scene. These were the key problems identified at an informal meeting on February 22nd, with representatives of a dozen of cultural institutions and organisations from Belgrade. The meeting was hosted by BIRN as part of the BICCED project (Balkan’s Initiative for Cultural Cooperation, Exchange and Development), which is supported by the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans.

Participants also pointed out the division amongst key cultural organisations and opinion-formers, making joint activity or collective pressure on government and funding bodies almost impossible, and the chronic lack of interest from the media in culture in general and the problems faced by cultural organisations.

Among the participants were Aleksandar Lazarevic from the Centre for Study in Cultural Development (ZAPROKUL), an institution which itself works in the field of cultural policy, Darka Radosavljevic from the Independent Artistic Association Remont, Dragoslav Krnajski from the Initiative committee of the members of Association of Fine Artists of Serbia, Sladjana Novakovic form the Rende publishing house, Jelena Knezevic from the Bitef Theatre and BITEF festival, Jelena Vesic from the Prelom collective and informal network of independent organisations Other Scene (Druga scena), Ana Lukovic from the Ebart Media Documentation, as well as Vesna Milosavljevic from the SEEcult.org portal for culture, one of BIRN’s partners in the BICCED project.

The meeting was held as part of the preparatory phase of the BICCED project, which provides for training of journalists from the region of Western Balkans in analytical reporting on cultural policies. Three separate groups of journalists will be trained over the course of the three year programme. The issues discussed by these key opinion-formers in the cultural scene, will serve as a basis for defining the editorial strategy of the projects and topics looked into by the journalists engaged in the project.

A similar meeting was recently held in Sarajevo, and others are planned in Pristina, Skopje and Tirana to provide a region-wide view in preparation for a conference on cultural policies and media to be held on April 20th in Skopje. The first group of ten journalists chosen for the programme will attend the conference alongside experts and practitioners in the field of culture in the region.

Candidate short-listing underway

Balkan Fellowship team members are engaged in selecting the best candidates for this year’s programme, on the topic of ‘Taboo’. The exact number of eligible applications received per country is the following: Serbia 42, Romania 27, Croatia 19, Bulgaria 15, Albania 12, Bosnia & Herzegovina 10, Kosovo 6, Macedonia 6, and Montenegro 6.

Balkan Fellowship team members are engaged in selecting the best candidates for this year’s programme, on the topic of ‘Taboo’. The exact number of eligible applications received per country is the following: Serbia 42, Romania 27, Croatia 19, Bulgaria 15, Albania 12, Bosnia & Herzegovina 10, Kosovo 6, Macedonia 6, and Montenegro 6.

This year, candidates have focused on categories such as religion, national identity, poverty & health issues, domestic violence, technology, as well as political & economic issues, among others. The final results will be announced on March 25th on our website while all candidates will be individually informed about the results of the fourth annual competition for the Balkan Fellowship.

The Selection Committee will be in charge of choosing the journalists for this year’s programme. The International Selection Committee consists of six permanent members from the media community in the Balkans, Austria and Germany, as well as one annual member, who is an expert on this year’s Fellowship theme.

Ten journalists will have the opportunity to participate in the program, receiving funding and professional support to conduct research in the region and the EU. At the end of the 7-month long program, the international commission will award prizes of 4.000, 3.000, and 1.000 Euros to the authors of the top three best articles.

Fellowship Winner Published First Book

Maja Hrgovic, winner of the 1st Fellowship for jounalistic exellence prize for 2009, has recently published her first book, complilation of fiction stories.

The winner is the one who least cares (stories)

The winner is the one who least cares – is one of  the rules in a world situated in the heart of a city far away from the shinny city centers, a city where unusual heroes live; those who drink away their beer mugs at pubs alongside the railroad, in quarters which are destroyed overnight and become large shopping areas.

The compilation of stories are a powerful combination of poetics, selfishness, humor and cynicism – the true measurements of interpersonal relations (love, wandering, of all our gains and losses) which never leave a sour after-taste.

Maja Hrgovic from Zagreb, Croatia, currently works for daily newspaper Novi list as a journalist in the culture section. In 2009 Maja was awarded with the first prize at the end of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence annual programme for the article “Families Pay the Price as Women Go West” – focusing on socioeconomic migrations. As journalist she has several years’ experience of covering gender issues and she is one of the leading bloggers in Croatia. Her stories, among others, have been published in multi-author compilations such as “Ekranpriče 04” and “Da sam Šejn” as well as in many Balkan journalistic magazines at a national and regional level, and she has been recognized in the Anthology “Best Croatian stories of 2007”.