Balkan Fellowship Selection Results Revealed

On March 23rd a Selection Committee chose ten proposals from the nearly 120 ideas submitted by journalists from across the region.

The chosen journalists for this year’s Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence are:

Adrian Mogos from Romania
Arjan Konomi from Albania
Barbara Matejcic from Croatia
Boris Georgievski from Macedonia
Maja Hrgovic from Croatia
Marius Cosmeanu from Romania
Momir Turudic from Serbia
Nela Lazarevic from Montenegro
Sabina Niksic from Bosnia-Herzegovina
Yana Buhrer Tavanier from Bulgaria

To find out more about our fellows and their research ideas click here.

The journalists will undertake an intensive programme of training, research and reporting, beginning in Vienna on April 23rd and culminating in an awards ceremony at the end of the year in Berlin.

During the week-long seminar in the Austrian capital, the Fellows will have the opportunity to meet each other and will attend training sessions with BIRN’s editors and experts.

BIRN Kosovo Launches the 2009 Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence

In a joint press launch on Sunday February 8, BIRN Kosovo announced the 2009 Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence and the release of the book, written by last year’s fellows, “Power struggle: Meeting Global Energy Challenges in Balkans”.

BIRN Kosovo Director Jeta Xharra introduced the book and officially opened the fellowship programme for 2009, while BIRN Kosovo Editor Krenar Gashi presented the book, containing investigative journalism stories written by last year’s fellows, on the topic of energy. Gashi also spoke about the objectives of the programme and advised prospective candidates on the application process for 2009.

Journalists, editors and representatives of the civil society were present at the event hosted in ‘Lounge’ restaurant in Pristina.

Lavdim Hamidi, BIRN’s winning fellow from the 2008 programme, for his investigative report “Power Games Delay Escape from Poverty”, also addressed the reception. Lavdimi talked about his experience with BIRN and encouraged journalists to apply for “this wonderful opportunity”.

“The ability to travel to European Union countries is rare for us in the Balkans, so having the chance to do this and compare issues between the Balkans and European Union countries, with all expenses are paid, was a fantastic opportunity to accurately investigate an important subject. I would encourage all journalists to participate in this programme because it is a worthy experience”, Hamidi said in a speech at the Pristina event.

After the presentation, BIRN Kosovo personnel explained details of the
programme and the application procedure in detail to many of the journalists that were present.
Each year BIRN’s team of experienced editors and journalists, in cooperation with the Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE foundations, offers ten journalists from the Balkans a chance to travel and investigate their stories, which are later published, both in their respective national media as well in a BIRN book.

Power Struggle Launched in Zagreb

Power Struggle: Meeting Global Energy Challenges in the Balkans, a book produced as a part of media development project Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence and initiated by the Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE Foundation, in cooperation with BIRN, was launched in Zagreb on January 13th.

The event, which marked the completion of the 2008 programme, was held at the Croatian Journalists’ Association building and was attended by representatives of important national media outlets.

Speakers included Dalibor Dobric, a Croatian journalist who participated in this year’s Programme, Gordana Igric, BIRN Regional Director, and Dragana Zarkovic Obradovic, Fellowship Programme Manager.

Dalibor Dobric presented his article Fighting the Power Proves Tough in Croatia and talked about his experience during the project. He encouraged all interested journalists to apply for the upcoming 2009 programme, stressing that it provides participants with a rare opportunity to travel across the region and EU in order to do research.

Journalists present at the event showed interest in the programme as well as in other possibilities to positively influence the media situation throughout the region.

2009 Programme Launched

The Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE Foundation, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, are pleased to announce the third year of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme.

To mark two tumultuous decades of both fragmentation and European integration since the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the descent into armed conflict in many Balkan nations, journalists are invited to explore the broad concept of “Identity” in the contemporary landscape.

Journalists from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania or Serbia are encouraged to submit research proposals for a 2,000 word journalistic article.
Through an open competition, ten journalists will be selected to participate in a seven month programme. The journalists will receive funding and professional support to conduct research, both in the region and in the European Union, culminating in publication and Europe-wide promotion of their reports at the end of the year.

Successful applicants will receive a bursary of 2,000 Euros and a travel allowance of up to 2,000 Euros.
A selection committee comprised of prominent journalists will additionally award one fellow with an individually-tailored opportunity for further professional development, to the value of 8,000 Euros.
Applications must be received no later than 1st March 2009. More details about the programme, application forms and guidelines are available at

BIRN Macedonia Fellowship Book Launch

BIRN Macedonia on Monday, December 22 held a reception to launch the book “Power struggle: Meeting Global Energy Challenges in Balkans”, containing articles by ten journalists from Southeast Europe that participated in the 2008 programme of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.

At the cocktail at Skopje’s Journalists` Club, BIRN Macedonia director Ana Petruseva presented the book containing investigative journalism stories done by this year’s fellows on the topic of energy. She spoke about the aims of the program and encouraged journalists to apply for next year.

Darko Duridanski, this year’s fellow from Macedonia who examined the energy arising from Kosovo`s independence and its impact on other similar movements in Spain and Georgia talked about his experience with the fellowship program and the topic that he worked on.

About hundred journalists and editors from Macedonia`s main media organisations attended the launch including from the dailies Vest, Dnevnik, Utrinski vesnik, Spic, as well as A1 TV, Kanal 5 TV, Alsat- M TV, Alfa TV along with representatives of embassies and civil society organisations.

Each year the BIRN teamof experienced editors and journalists in cooperation with the Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE foundations is offering ten journalists from the Balkans a chance to travel and investigate their stories which are later published in their respective national media as well as published in a BIRN book.

Book Launch in Belgrade

A launch of “Power Struggle: Meeting Global Energy Challenges in the Balkans” was held in Belgrade’s O3one gallery on Monday and was attended by representatives of the media, NGOs, international and governmental organizations.

The book launch marked the completion of the second year of Balkan fellowship for journalistic excellence, an initiative of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE Foundation, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

The book showcases the work of 10 journalists who spent many months researching and putting together their original pieces.

The reception was organised in honour of the two fellows from Serbia, Zvezdana Crnogorac, author of the article, Tuning the Soul to something higher and Aleksandra Stankovic, whose piece, Dash for Wealth Dooms Wild Frontier came in second place overall at a prestigious awards ceremony held recently in Vienna.

Aleksandra and Zvezdana discussed their experiences during the project. “Not many people get the opportunity to travel and work, both throughout the region, and across Europe. Through this project I had the chance to bring to fruition my research on the opportunities for sustainable development in Stara Planina, a topic that I have been researching for several years and that is one of my special interests”, Aleksandra Stankovic said. Zvezdana Crnogorac said how much she had enjoyed participating in the programme and encouraged everyone to consider taking part in future.

At the book launch, The BIRN team announced that following the success of the this year’s programme, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Erste Foundation have agreed to continue their funding and that the 2009 programme will get underway in January.

Book Launch in Sarajevo

“Power struggle: Meeting Global Energy Challenges in Balkans” a compilation of articles, written by journalists as part of the Balkans Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence in 2008 was launched in Sarajevo today.

The 10 journalists whose articles appear in the book were selected in a competition open to writers from across the Balkans and their investigative articles are dedicated to the issue of production, use and lack of energy in the Balkans, and the politics surrounding energy policy.

The event was attended by the BIH media, the diplomatic corps, representatives of NGO’s and the wider international community. BIRN BIH Program Manager, Anisa Suceska Vekic presented the fellowship initiative and offered media representatives the opportunity to republish the articles in the book.

Mirsad Bajtarevic, from BH Radio 1, whose article on wind energy scooped the overall third prize presented his article to the guests:

“This is a story about the inability of foreign institutions to develop a project in Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite local interest,” Bajtarevic said. He called upon all journalists to apply to be a part of the 2009 programme, “as it represents an ideal opportunity for a committed writer to develop their investigative work”.

In the course of his investigation, Bajtarevic was mentored by Srecko Latal, one of the editors of BIRN’s popular Balkan Insight website. Latal told the audience that the timescale and wide scope of the fellowship offered a rare opportunity for journalists to focus on subjects which they want to investigate in detail.

“It was my pleasure to work with Mirsad, because he has vast knowledge of this subject,” Latal told the audience.

BIRN BIH representatives presented the first ten copies of the book to the Media Centre Library to thank the Media Centre for their continued support of the media in the country.
After the presentation the guests enjoyed a brief cocktail party.

More than 200 media outlets and 10,000 Justice Report magazine subscribers in BIH, the region and worldwide have received press releases and information about the promotion and copies of the book.
In the next weeks, BIRN BIH will distribute the book to libraries in Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Mostar Universities, the National Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina and other academic and research libraries.

The programme was initiated by the Robert Bosch and Erste Foundations in cooperation with BIRN, in order to support the professional development of journalists in the region and to assist in the development of international standards in the local media.

Additional details about the book and the journalistic excellence programme can be found at

Book Launch in Romania

BIRN Romania has launched a book called “Power struggle: Meeting Global Energy Challenges in the Balkans” at the Center for Independent Journalism in Bucharest.

Journalists and editors from the country’s most influential media outlets and other friends of the organisation attended the event.

The book contains ten reports written by journalists from all over the Balkans, based around the core theme “Power struggle: Meeting Global Energy Challenges in the Balkans”. The 10 journalists were selected in an open competition organised by BIRN with the support of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the ERSTE Foundation. Lavdim Hamidi has won first prize in this year’s programme for his article “Power Games Delay Escape from Poverty”.

BIRN Romania Director, Marian Chiriac, has announced next year’s programme, encouraging local young journalists to apply for it.

One of the 2008 Romanian fellows, Magda Munteanu, author of the article, “Nuclear Power: Curse or Opportunity?”, spoke about her experiences with the programme, and recommended it to the journalists attending the meeting. In her article, Magda told how the Balkan states are gambling on the nuclear option as the best way to reduce the energy shortage, without fully considering the downside risks.
Andreea Gheorghe, another of this year’s fellows, gave an overview of her article and findings. In her investigation, “Miners Remain in Dark about Future”, Andreea looked at the future of the coal industry in the Balkans and the social problems that arose following the closure of many mines in recent years.

Romanian Fellow Awarded

Magda Munteanu, Romanian Fellow of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, on May 27 won the prize for “Best Financial Journalism” in a contest organised by the Romanian Press Club.

Magda was awarded for an investigation “Behind ARLO’s gate”, which looked into the main Romanian aluminum smelter, owned by a Russian company. The investigation was published by Romanian Business Week news magazine.

Cezar Ion, the president of the jury praised Magda’s investigation as having been written according to Anglo-Saxon journalism standards.

On her part, Magda said: “I am very proud of this prize. I believe that economic reporting is still a minor journalism genre in Romania so, there, I will continue to publish such articles and to better promote them.”

Romanian Press Club is the country’s main press organisation.