New Award for Culture Journalists Announced

Annual ward will add new element to the BICCED project, which opened last Thursday.

The advisory board for the BICCED project has decided to establish an annual award for journalists working in the field of culture. The decision was announced at the annual Advisory Board meeting held on January 28.

Details of the competition will soon be published in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia and Macedonia.

The annual award will add a new element to the Balkans’ Initiative for Cultural Cooperation, Exchange and Development, BICCED project, which kicked off for the third time last Thursday in Belgrade, gathering journalists from the region at a three-day event consisting of training, study visits and round table on cultural policy.

The project aims is to ensure a supply of objective, balanced and accurate reports on aspects of cultural policy and related themes, in order to provide policymakers in the country and abroad with a better basis from which to formulate policies that expedite the region’s European-oriented transition.

The project also aims to give cultural organisations and experts better insight into the state of cultural policies and practice in the region, as well as to exchange opinions, practices and experiences in the field of policy.

The BICCED project is implemented by the Balkan Investigative Regional Reporting Network, BIRN, and is funded by the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans.


The new English-language Editor-in-Chief Andrea Doder joins the Balkan Transitional Justice Team

Andrea Doder, a former BBC international affairs journalist, has joined the Balkan Transitional Justice (BTJ) team today as the English-language Editor-in-Chief.

Originally from Sarajevo, Andrea is a graduate from Guildhall, London and holds a master degree from the London School of Economics. She is also a fluent speaker of BCSM.


Andrea joined the BBC in 1994, where she produced and edited news programmes and reported for the World Service radio, World television and BBC News Online.


Balkan Transitional Justice is a new programme of BIRN HUB that is designed as a sub-site of Balkan Insight and made possible through cooperation with BIRN BiH.

The first ever regional programme of its kind, funded by the European Commission and the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is dedicated to broadening understanding of transitional justice issues and improving the professional standards of journalism in the Balkan region.

News about transitional justice issues (war crime trials, missing persons, reparations, criminal justice efforts, regional cooperation and strategy) is published in English and also in Albanian, BCMS and Macedonian. The Balkan Transitional Justice’s website is currently under construction and contains three mirror language pages of the English home page.


The BTJ team started with a training period on February 1, under the editorial guidance of Balkan Insight’s Managing Editor Ana Petruseva and Andrew Gray, former chief editor of Reuters for the Balkans.


The training period has been successful beyond all expectations and the system of publishing news in four languages has been running smoothly. Although the website has not been officially launched the work of the BTJ team has already been noticed and some articles re-published in the local media across the region.


The official launch of the website will be on March 1, 2012.


Culture Watch Training in Belgrade

A training for journalists participating in the region-wide BICCED project kicked off in Belgrade on Thursday.

The event will equip journalists from across the region with the skills needed to write for the Culture Watch Online Magazine and forms part of the third round of the Balkan Initiative for Cultural Cooperation, Exchange and Development, BICCED.

The training sessions will be followed later by on-the-job training from BIRN’s experienced editorial team to help the journalists to produce articles focusing on cultural policy throughout the region, which will be published in the dedicated culture section of BIRN’s Balkan Insight web site –

Dusica L.I. Cook, BICCED programme manager, said that the main goals of the project are to train journalists to write in analytical manner, and to increase the visibility of cultural problems.

“The aim of the project is to provide a constant supply of objective, balanced and accurate reporting on aspects of cultural policy and other related themes, and provide policymakers in-country and within institutions abroad with a better position to create policies that expedite the region’s European-oriented transition,“ she explained.

<!** Image 3 align=”left” >The two day training programme will focus primarily on developing the journalists’ skill set, and will be led by Ana Petruseva, BIRN Macedonia Director and Gordana Igric, BIRN Regional Network Director who will guide the team through five distinct types of articles, writing style, writing tips, and the use of quotations and sources.

Another session will focus on news and analytical writing, helping the journalists to define the two and look at the structure of such pieces.

BIRN web director Milos Milosavljevic will host a session looking at Online Journalism and the use of social networks, and journalists will have learn the specific skills necessary for writing for the web, methods and techniques to promote their stories and the use of the web for research and collaboration.

The programme will conclude with the commissioning of articles which the journalists will work on in collaboration with their local editors in the weeks to come.

Selected candidates for the third round of the BICCED project are Bojana Karanovic (Banja Luka), Mirza Ajnadzic (Sarajevo), Olivera Nikodinovska and Julija ilijevska (Skopje), Arber Selmani and Donjeta Demolli (Pristina), Fatmira Nikolli and Elsa Demo (Tirana), Dimitrije Bukvic, Mladen Savkovic, Tijana Jovanovic Petrovic (Belgrade), and Branislava Lovre (Novi Sad).

The training is organized within the BIRN’s three-year Balkan Initiative in Cultural Cooperation, Exchange and Development, funded by the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans.


New competition for Balkan Fellowships for Journalistic Excellence opened till March 5, 2012

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) together Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE Foundation, sixth time in a row, opened a call for applications within the program “Balkan Fellowship for journalistic excellence. The topic of the new call is communities and journalists from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia are invited to apply till March 5, 2012.

Applicants are encouraged to consider the annual theme, communities, in a broad sense. Candidates should examine different groupings-political, economic, national, gender, generational – and the relationship between them, external influences and the development of entirely new groups or factions. Candidates should write about the topic not just in the context of their home country, but also in at least one other regional state and within the European Union and should choose phenomena that are relevant, current and original.


Fellows are expected to deliver investigative stories of no more than 2,000 words that will inform regional readers about issues that have not been covered by the media before.


Remzi Lani, director of the Albanian Media Institute and a member of the program’s selection committee, described the fellowship as “a success story” and “opportunity not to be missed”. “The programme offers a unique opportunity for detailed, in-depth reporting in your country and beyond. At the same time, if offers fellows the opportunity to meet colleagues and industry professionals from across Europe”, says Remzi Lani.


Ten applicants selected by an independent committee to take part in the fellowship will receive a €2,000 bursary, up to another €2,000 for travel and research expenses and will attend career development seminars in Vienna and Skopje. In addition, the top three articles, again judged by an independent committee, will attract awards of €4,000, €3,000 and €1,000.


In the attachment you may read the recommendation from the 2011 winner, Juliana Koleva from Bulgaria.


Detailed information on this year’s theme, application form and guidelines can be found at:


Contact for further information:


Dragana Žarković Obradović

Fellowship programme manager, BIRN


Email: [email protected]


Balkan Transitional Justice

BIRN Hub opened a five-day long training course on journalistic reporting about transitional justice issues in the scope of the newly launched programme Balkan Transitional Justice.

The programme is financed by the European Commission and the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


The aim of the training course is to introduce journalists and translators to the topic of transitional justice as a practical field from a journalistic perspective.


Gordana Igrić, the regional BIRN director welcomed the newly established Balkan Transitional Justice Journalistic Team by saying that one of the aims of the programme is to contribute to the process of coming to terms with the past.


Nerma Jelačić, the Head of the ICTY Outreach Programme, presented the concept of transitional justice based on four pillars: the right to know, the right to justice, the right to reparation, and non-repetition of the past human rights violations.


Throughout the week, Jelačić will provide insights into the challenges that journalists face when they cover transitional justice issues.


The training also includes presentations by representatives of key BiH judiciaries and experts on transitional justice issues such Jasmina Pjanic, the Head of the Criminal Defence Section of BIH, Liljana Zurovac from the BiH Press Council, and Saša Madacki from the Human Rights Center.


The participants will have the opportunity to visit the Court of BiH, follow a war crime trial, and practice how to report about the case they attended.


Balkan Transitional Justice is a regional programme that aims to increase a general public understanding of transitional justice in post-Yugoslav countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia) and improve the state of media.


The online production in four regional languages (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian/Montenegrin, Albanian and Macedonian) and English starts in February 2012, whereby radio and TV output will follow later.


New BIRN Regional Board Elected

The BIRN Regional Network in Belgrade on November 18 and 19 finalised the process of forming a new BIRN Hub Board. The previous members, directors of local member organisations, have moved to the Steering Committee of the BIRN Hub.

The new board is composed of Tim Judah, author and Balkan correspondent for the Economist, Wolfgang Petritsch, Permanent Representative of Austria to the OECD, Steve Crawshaw, international advocacy director at Amnesty International and Stefan Lehne, former Austrian diplomat and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Europe in Brussels. They will be joined by a BIRN representative chosen on an annual basis by the Steering Committee of the Hub.

The BIRN Hub Board has responsibility for major decisions related to the Network’s strategy, adopts the Director’s annual report and ensures that Network regulation rules are upheld. It will assist the Regional Network Director in designing programmes and other operational matters as opportunities or needs dictate.

The Steering Committee will be composed of representatives of BIRN members of the Network and the Regional Director and will act as a hands-on operational body to ensure that the Network continues to maintain highest standards.

The changes agreed in November will be reflected next year in changes to the BIRN Hub Statute, as well as in the Network regulation rules. Network members see these changes as marking a milestone in the life of BIRN that will contribute to the organization’s further development and prevent potential conflicts of interest.


Regional Transitional Justice Project Launched

BIRN Hub has launched a two-year multimedia project called “Regional Transitional Justice”, which is being financed by the Swiss Foreign Ministry and supported also by the European Commission.

The project’s overall goal is to raise awareness of transitional justice issues in Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro and so contribute to the process of reconciliation in the region.

A team of journalists will be formed to cover war crime trials and other key issues and their subsequent news, analysis and investigations will be published on Balkan Insight in both English and local languages.

A monthly radio show, Radio Regional Justice Production, will also be produced in local languages using the capacities of BIRN Bosnia’s existing Radio Justice Programme.

The project also includes a TV Regional Justice Production, a TV series comprising six shows, plus a separate TV documentary, which will be produced using the material that the team has collected.

Our expectation is that that this valuable project will have a lasting, positive impact in the region by fostering democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and a sustainable peace.


BIRN Guide Digging Deeper now available to buy online

BIRN is announcing that Digging Deeper: a Guide for Investigative Journalists in the Balkans is now available to buy online. This unique handbook showcases interesting investigative stories and individual journalistic successes, as well as providing an overview of investigative techniques.

This is the second edition of the guide, which BIRN has decided to publish in response to the high demand of journalists requiring a guide to investigative journalism, which resulted in all copies of the first edition being quickly distributed.

Digging Deeper offers insight into various databases available in the Balkan region and tips for practitioners, as the most useful elements for all journalists.

This guide is intended for all journalists seeking to improve their investigative skills and will also inspire others to move into the field of investigative journalism.

BIRN prepares for competition

BIRN has decided to turn a new page in its development by getting involved in activities related to the competition of the best regional web projects,, starting from Wednesday, when a conference featuring world-renowned speakers will take place in Budva, Montenegro.

The Web Fest conference is organised by successful web companies for all those who live with, and work on, the web. At the same time, it is the largest regional event popularising the use of the internet and awarding successful web projects. This year, Web Fest is all about “ENERGIZING-IT-UP” and discovering who is behind the Internet.

The first Web Fest was held in 2007, when a group of internet enthusiasts and technology lovers highlighted the efforts of the daring souls whose successful projects were being launched on the Web. The festival has grown constantly over the years, drawing the attention and participation of authors, artists, businessmen, academics, scientists and even actors. One of its main points of interest is the submission of new and innovative internet projects for award consideration.

The awards are set to be broadcast live at the event’s closing. Submission categories are still being structured but are likely to include awards for projects such as information delivery, business use and e-commerce, personal and creative use and blogging.

WebFest is also an online competition, with the public able to vote for their favourite websites. BIRN is proud to announce that this year its premium website,, will participate in the competition. “Being the Balkans best English language informative website and truly unique in the region sometimes is not enough. It’s a much greater thing if someone else says it instead of me, right? Therefore, we will take the opportunity to invite all of our readers, all those who love Balkan Insight and share it all across social media platforms, to vote for us. It takes just one click to vote and it’s important that we spread the news about the voting option to all our fans, followers and premium subscribers in a timely manner. Voting will start on October 15th,” said BIRN online projects director Miloš Milosavljević.

Balkan Insight is an award-winning Internet edition of the regional Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (, which has newsrooms present in nine countries of Southeast Europe. With a reputation as one of the most respected sources of analysis and investigative reporting, is a unique hotspot for those whose focus is on the Balkans – Europe’s most dynamic region.

Balkan Insight is a portal in a niche market and in English, with an international audience. In 2008 it was among the first in the region to introduce 2CheckOut for Premium Subscription (subscription to premium content).


BIRN Summer School participants gain SCOOP funding for investigative stories

The last day of this year’s BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting saw participants present their investigative story ideas. All investigative pieces, submitted by previously determined participant groups, were given the opportunity to gain funding from the SCOOP Network of investigative journalists, based in Denmark.

SCOOP has decided to fund five of the seven submitted investigative story proposals.