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”.

BIRN network publishes a `Guide for Investigative Journalists in the Balkans`

At the beginning of 2010 BIRN network published Digging Deeper – A Guide for Investigative Journalists in the Balkans, written in cooperation with Sheila Coronel, Director of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism and professor of professional practice at Columbia University, New York.

The idea for this handbook came from a desire to put on paper the valuable experience of BIRN, a regional network of journalists and trainers, and other colleagues from the region in their pursuit of investigative stories.

Digging Deeper showcases interesting investigative stories and individual journalistic successes and provides an overview of investigative techniques, the various databases available in the region and tips for the practitioners. It takes readers through this demanding discipline methodically, from a definition of what investigative journalism is and what is not, through the investigative process itself and the set of techniques for following people and paper trails, interviewing and checking the legal implications of journalistic work, and putting the article together.

Gordana Igric, BIRN regional director and editor of the handbook says – “To serve the public interest, an investigative journalist must also serve their own – by building their skills and knowledge, expanding their list of sources and enriching their reporting styles and techniques.”

BIRN is preparing translations of the handbook into Serbian, and translation into Albanian will follow shortly thereafter. The book will be distributed widely throughout the region, and will serve as a key tool for BIRN’s development of an investigative journalism summer school curriculum.

Production and publishing of ‘Digging Deeper – A Guide for Investigative Journalists in the Balkans’ was financially supported by the Open Society Institute and the OSCE Mission to Serbia.

Apply for the 2010 Programme

The Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE Foundation, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, announce the launch of the fourth year of their prestigious fellowship programme for journalists in the Balkans.

Journalists from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania or Serbia, are encouraged to submit research proposals on 2010’s theme -TABOO.

Each year ten journalists are chosen, through an open competition, to receive funding and professional support to research and report on a topic of regional and European importance.

Participating fellows will receive:

• A bursary of €2,000, a travel allowance of up to €2,000 and a chance to participate in a seven-month programme of professional development.

• The opportunity to travel across the region to produce an in depth report with a regional and European dimension.

• Training from internationally recognised journalists and experts.

• The opportunity to have their work published Europe-wide and to become a member of a growing network for journalistic excellence in the Balkans.

In addition, the independent Selection Committee will award bursaries of € 4,000, € 3,000 and € 1,000 for further professional development to the authors of the three winning articles.

For detailed information on eligibility for the fellowship programme, application and the selection procedure, please read the full Guidelines before you download Application Form.

Applications must be received no later than 01 March 2010.

The First Meeting under BICCED Held in Sarajevo

As part of the project recently awarded to BIRN  by the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans, Balkan’s Initiative for Cultural Cooperation, Exchange and Development (BICCED), BIRN brought together some of the most active players the cultural scene in Sarajevo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Danis Tanovic, the movie director, Amra Kresevljakovic from Deblokada, Nihad Kresevljakovic from the festival MESS, Elma Tatarevic from the Sarajevo Film Festival and Amila Ramic from the ARS AEVI shared their views and knowledge of the cultural scene in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the problems facing the creative industries.

As much as other spheres of life of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the culture is also suffering from the consequences of the division of Bosnia & Herzegovina into largely separate entities. There is no ministry of culture at the state level, and this affects many institutions which are of national importance. The main areas of concern identified by the participants are related to the lack of of a national cultural policy, lack of clear criteria for the allocation of funds, politically-driven support both for organisations and for appointments to leading positions, along with a range of administrative obstacles, VAT policies, ATA Carnet, tax exemption, etc.

The participants gave a valuable input to the creation of an editorial strategy for the programme and provided their views on how the leading players might work together.

Similar meetings will be held in Republika Srpska, and in other countries participating in the project – Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia – to arrive at a cohesive and inclusive approach to cultural poly across the wider region

BIRN Receives a 3-year Grant from the SCP

The Balkan Investigative Regional Reporting Network, BIRN, is delighted to announce the signing of a three-year contract with the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans, SCP.

“Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans” sub=”Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans” >The project, “Balkan’s Initiative for Cultural Cooperation, Exchange and Development,” BICCED, aims to build a platform for development of culture-related co-operation in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia and Macedonia, focusing on common cultural policy issues and contributing to the change and development of individual country policies. BIRN, as lead partner in this project, will work closely with SEECult, from Serbia, and BIRN’s country-based organisations in Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia.
 
The first phase of the project will involve the preparation of an editorial strategy and the establishment of links with cultural organisations and experts from across the region.

Later, a small group of influential representatives of the creative industries from all of the participating countries will get together for a regional conference to discuss the challenges faced and to agree a common approach.

Alongside, BIRN will organise the first of three annual training programmes in analytical and investigative reporting for 10 journalists, two from each of the participating countries. Journalists, who have an interest and focus on arts and cultural policy are strongly encouraged to apply for this opportunity which, in addition to the training, will offer them the   opportunity to participate in study visits around the region. Each group will visit one country attending a selection of cultural events, and meeting decision makers in institutions and organisations. Applications will be opened for interested journalists in February. After the initial training, the selected journalists will receive on-the-job training for a further 10 months. For each of the three years of the programme, 10 new journalists will be selected.

During the on-the-job training phase, each month, the journalists will participate in the production of 12 texts which will be published on a dedicated culture section of BIRN’s Balkan Insight web site www.balkaninsight.com and the six best texts will be put together to produce a monthly newsletter. The web section will also include a cultural calendar for the region and links to other resources in the cultural and arts field.

Fellowship Articles Submitted – Editing Underway

The Ten fellows taking part in the 2009 Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme, submitted their in-depth reports on August 31. Their reports were produced as a result of research and travel across both the Balkans and the EU during previous 4 months.

This year, their reports address the topic – Identity – from different angles, looking at the Balkan’s criminal, social, economic, cultural and religious landscape, examining the new role of woman in economic migration, the phenomenon of mixed marriages in post-conflict societies, the devastating consequences of on-going repatriation programmes, disputes between various national and religious groups as well as prevailing attitudes toward the LGBT community.  
 
Read the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence web site to find updates from the fellows written during the research period, that are offer interesting insightson their travels and their articles that are about to be published on BIRN’s on line publication, Balkan Insight and in a special hard-copy publication which will be launched at a special promotional gatherings throughout the region. Each year, the reports are also  syndicated to the local and international media.
 
The reports will be edited by BIRN’s experienced editorial team, and will be officially presented on November 27th to the Selection Committee, which will award bursaries of € 4,000, € 3,000 and € 1,000 to the authors of the three winning articles.

The Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence is an initiative of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the ERSTE Foundation, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.