BIRN Celebrated the 200th Anniversary Issue of Belgrade Insight

Over 150 guests joined BIRN in marking the 200th issue of Belgrade Insight at a commemorative party on top of the USCE Tower in Belgrade on Thursday, February 18th

BIRN founder and Regional Director Gordana Igrić welcomed partygoers with a speech that recalled Belgrade Insight’s challenges and successes over the last eight years.

“The timing for our own celebration could have been worse, but it does highlight just how remarkable it is to launch a newspaper in today’s chaotic media world and to reach a milestone like 200th issue we are now celebrating. It’s an achievement that has to be seen in the context of the political landscape in which we publish… Despite all this we have found a core group of devoted readers who are willing to struggle quite literally to find us. Week after week they seek out our newspaper even if it means coming to our office building to grab the latest copy” said Igric while welcoming the guests.

Throughout its history, Belgrade Insight has been an invaluable resource for readers seeking news and information about life in Belgrade.

Guests included diplomatic notables, journalists and prominent local tastemakers.  The Nada Pavlovic Band provided the entertainment.

The bi-weekly newspaper is a publication of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and focuses on news, culture and happenings in Belgrade.  First published in May 2008, then-editor Mark R. Pullen described Belgrade Insight as a “brave new English-language newspaper, destined to become a ‘must-read’… for opinion-makers, expatriates, and everyone else who has a need to know.”


Belgrade Insight to publish 200th Issue

Belgrade’s only English-language newspaper is marking anniversary with special issue and party.

Belgrade Insight is set to publish its 200th issue on February 18th, a milestone of survival through a landscape of dramatically shifting newspaper economics, volatile political climates and clear intimidation, censorship and assaults on press freedom in Serbia. 

“Since its establishment, Belgrade Insight had endured many challenges – from 2008 financial crisis when we saw businesses cutting off their advertisements, followed by disregard of advertisement agencies that were reluctant to associate with a paper not in favour with the governments to a censorship campaign that has raged against BIRN in the last few years,” says Gordana Andric, Belgrade Insight’s editor.   

Throughout its history, Belgrade Insight has been an invaluable resource for readers seeking news and information about life in Belgrade. 

The bi-weekly newspaper is a publication of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and focuses on news, culture and happenings in Belgrade.  First published in May 2008, then-editor Mark R. Pullen described Belgrade Insight as a “brave new English-language newspaper, destined to become a ‘must-read’… for opinion-makers, expatriates, and everyone else who has a need to know.”

That ambition has threatened Belgrade Insight’s existence more than once.  After BIRN published damaging investigative reports into his administration, Prime Minister Vucic’s government kicked out Belgrade Insight from key distribution points at Tourist Organisation of Belgrade centres, and Nikola Tesla Airport.  Belgrade Insight has moved to a subscription model to make up for the lost circulation.  But no matter how the paper is distributed, Andric has high hoped for Belgrade Insight’s future. 

“In today’s Serbian media scene, where censorship rules almost everyone, we see Belgrade Insight’s role ever more important and we hope to continue to bring our readers relevant and balanced journalism for many more issues to come,” says Andric. 

 

Snezana Caricic

She joined the BIRN team in 2014 and is responsible for both finance and administration jobs, producing finance reports, processing invoices and daily track of daily revenue and spending.

In addition, she is managing the daily functioning of BIRN Hub’s Belgrade office.

Snezana has been working in finance administration for almost 20 years. She speaks Serbian and Macedonian.

Pedja Urosevic

Pedja Urosevic started working as journalist for Radio Index in the late 1999.

As one of four reporters broadcasting live from Serbia for Serbian public he covered the protest on October 5, 2000 for Radio Index. He has been working for the Beta News agency and Serbia’s government Bureau for Communications.

A dual British-Serbian citizen, Pedja specialised in business development for the media.

He had spent several years in the UK working for the Media Diversity Institute, and software company Intorel.

He is a Business Operations Manager in BIRN and Executive Director in BIRN LTD.

Belgrade Insight Kicked Out of Distribution Points

Distribution of Belgrade Insight has been stopped at Belgrade airport and at Tourist Organisation of Belgrade centres – in what appears a continuation of the government-led campaign against BIRN.

 

As of February, BIRN’s English language newspaper, Belgrade Insight, will no longer be distributed at one of the paper’s biggest distribution points – Tourist Organisation of Belgrade centres.

While distribution of the free newspaper has also halted at Dufry outlets at Nikola Tesla Airport, negotiations with this company remain ongoing.

Dufry, a global travel retailer that operates over 1,700 shops in airports, on cruise liners, at seaports, and other tourist locations in more than 60 countries, pulled Belgrade Insight from its venues on February 6.

Dufry, which has been hosting Belgrade Insight pick-up points since 2008, said the company had no written contract that obliges it to continue distributing the newspaper.

Miodrag Popovic, the acting director of the Tourist Organisation of Belgrade, TOB, told BIRN that Belgrade Insight’s editorial concept was not appropriate for tourist info centres.

“When in comes to distribution of your publication in the tourist-information centers of TOB, the answer lies in the definition of these centres,” he said.

“They are tourist-information [centres] and materials that there can be found there, in addition to souvenirs, of course, are those who have tourist information purposes only. Your newspapers have a different editorial policy,” Popovic said on February 20.

TOB did not inform Belgrade Insight of its intention to end cooperation.Instead, staff at TOB info-centres, visited by Belgrade Insight readers, told them they would no longer be able to pick up their copies in TOB venues. “We just got a call that we should pull the paper,” one employee told BIRN.

The sudden curbs on the distribution of BIRN’s newspaper come after the government of Serbia launched a fierce attack on BIRN in January.

This was in response to BIRN’s publication of an investigation into the tender awarded for dewatering the state-owned Tamnava mine.

The investigation said the power company EPS awarded the contract to a consortium of two companies with no relevant experience, one of whose directors is standing trial for tax evasion.

“Tell those liars that they have lied again. They got the money from [Michael] Davenport [head of the EU delegation in Belgrade] and the EU to speak against the Serbian government,” Aleksandar Vucic, the Prime Minister, said.

Gordana Igric, BIRN regional director, said the latest developments showed that the campaign was ongoing.

“We perceive the fact that Belgrade Insight is being kicked out of venues that have been our partners for years as continuation of the campaign against BIRN in which state institutions and companies – which by the nature of their job have to cooperate with the state – are participating,” she said.

“This is not happening only to us. Mechanisms for ensuring media obedience differ, from conditioning awards of commercial contracts to financial control over media,” she added.

Readers can pick up copies of Belgrade Insight at the hall of BIRN’s Belgrade office at Kolarceva 7, as well as at venues listed bellow.

Readers may order home delivery of the newspaper by visiting http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/page/subscribe-to-belgrade-insight.

For additional information please contact [email protected]

Digging Deeper: A guide for investigative journalists in the Balkans

Digging Deeper is a textbook for investigative journalists and part of the curriculum of the BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting.

Digging Deeper is an output of BIRN’s Investigative Reporting Initiative, which is an educational programme that includes cooperation with international universities and local partners with the aim of putting Digging Deeper into commercial use as a curriculum for investigative reporting.

The book was written in cooperation with Sheila Coronel, director of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism and professor of professional practice at Columbia University, New York.

In the guide, journalists’ articles, coupled with interesting advice, skills, investigative stories, databases, case studies, exercises and tips and techniques, inspire readers to take up the challenge of a career in investigative journalism.

Digging Deeper showcases interesting investigative stories and individual journalistic successes, as well as providing an overview of investigative techniques. Listings of the various databases available in the Balkan region and tips for practitioners are also useful elements for journalists.

BIRN’s Digging Deeper is part of the curriculum of the BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting. BIRN has published two editionsof the book in English, and it has been translated into the languages of the Western Balkans- Serbian, Albanian and Macedonian.

Download the first chapter for free

Marija Petrovic

Marija is a sales professional with a background in the media industry in Serbia and East Asia.

A member of the Belgrade Insight team at the time of the newspaper’s launch in 2008, Marija rejoined the team a year ago to head up the sales and marketing division.

Marija is well-acquainted with the international community in Belgrade through her previous experience as a field representative with the Club de Madrid.

Project Proposal Design Workshop

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network worked with forumZFD – the German Forum Civil Peace Service – to jointly respond to the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights’ call for project proposals.

In order to prepare the concept note and outline project activities, forumZFD sponsored a workshop together with project managers of BIRN member organisations.

The four day workshop was facilitated by Mr. Ralph Griese from the Forum for International Development and Planning, a German non-governmental organisation with expertise in projects from areas of sustainable development, development policies and education as well as in consultancy work.

During the workshop BIRN and forumZFD had the opportunity to be trained in the procedures of responding to the call for proposals from the European Commission, as well as in drafting a concept note for submission.

Patrick Schmelzer, the Regional Co-ordinator Western Balkans of the forumZFD (German Forum Civil Peace Service) hailed the workshop as a first step in growing cooperation with BIRN.

“BIRN is a unique organization and we will seek further opportunities for cooperation. The accurate and balanced reporting throughout the region and a focus on topics which also matter a lot to us make this organisation a vital partner for us. While we have a focus on empowering and professionalising the local civil society scene, BIRN has the means to give them an important voice throughout the Western Balkans and in the international arena. So we will develop further activities together. This training on log frame and project development for EU-calls was just a first step.”

BIRN Rapporteur at International Conference

BIRN was commissioned by the Grantmakers East Group, GEG, to monitor and report on its 11th annual meeting, held October 18-20 in Belgrade.

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The conference, entitled “Philanthropy and Participation – From Expectations to Practice”, addressed the challenges facing donors in promoting the development of civil society in South, Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

The GEG annual meeting provides a forum for its members to increase the effectiveness of their grantmaking efforts and to encourage new donor activity in the region.

For more information about GEG, and to read the BIRN conference report published last week, click here: www.efc.be/geg.

Enquiries about BIRN’s consultancy services should be directed to Gordana Igric, BIRN Regional Network Director, [email protected].