BIG Deal – Monitoring of the Implementation of the Brussels Agreement

BIRN Kosovo

Supporting the monitoring of the Brussels agreement between Kosovo and Serbia and ensuring a transparent and accountable leadership.

Summary

Supporting the monitoring of the Brussels agreement between Kosovo and Serbia and ensuring a transparent and accountable leadership.

Information Sheet

Donor:

The Balkan Trust for Democracy – BTD

Main Objective:

Increased transparency on the implementation of the EU-backed Kosovo-Serbia agreement that specifically affects the lives of citizens at the local level through producing and publishing accurate information for the public.

Specific Objectives: 

  • Shaping attitudes in order for the community to create a permissive environment for successful prevention of violent extremism;
  • Encourage public participation in prevention of violent extremism and the process of building resilience.

Main Activities:

  • Monitoring the progress reached in the implementation of the Brussels agreement. All findings will be published as part of the BIG DEAL initiative and will be disseminated across local, regional and international stakeholders;
  • Publishing news in Albaninan, Serbian and English regarding the implementation of the agreement, generated by researching and monitoring activities on a bi-monthly basis;
  • Producing and publishing TV programs on justice integration and the association of the municipalities.

Target Groups:

  • Negotiators,
  • Decision makers
  • Civil Society

Highlights:

By providing more information to the citizens regarding the dialogue, they will become part of the decision making process, which will improve the relationship between communities in Kosovo and will create a safer environment. All commuities of Kosovo will be involved and will gain knowledge while criticizing, supporting, and pushing for a better implementation of the Brussels Agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.

Monitoring the Public Consultation Process at Government Level 2018

BIRN Kosovo

BIRN Kosovo, through this initiative, is engaged in monitoring Kosovo’s judicial system.

Summary

BIRN Kosovo monitors the public consultation process for relevant government documents developed during 2018 and report on monitoring outcomes.

Information Sheet

Donor:

Kosovo Civil Society Foundation (KCSF)

Main Objective:

Pressure on the Government of Kosovo during the decision-making process and policy-making to increase the participation of the civil society in the involved processes for the benefit of citizens

Specific Objectives: 

  • Shaping attitudes in order for the community to create a permissive environment for successful prevention of violent extremism;
  • Encourage public participation in prevention of violent extremism and the process of building resilience.

Main Activities:

  • Undertaking monitoring
  • Communicating with the respective governmental unit to anticipate the starting time and expected results of the process;

Target Groups:

  • Public Institutions;
  • Civil Society;
  • Media Outlets.

Accurate and Ethical Reporting in Online and Televised Journalism

BIRN Kosovo

Through this project, BIRN Kosovo aims to empower young journalists and lawyers in Kosovo, through capacity-building training courses on accuracy and ethical reporting, access to public documents, and the consequences of inaccurate reporting, among other subjects.

Summary

Through this project, BIRN Kosovo aims to empower young journalists and lawyers in Kosovo, through capacity-building training courses on accuracy and ethical reporting, access to public documents, and the consequences of inaccurate reporting, among other subjects.

Information Sheet

Donor:

Funded by Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, led by Kosovo Cicil Society Foundation (KCSF)

Main Objective:

Increasing the capacity and professionalism of students of law and journalism in journalistic reporting, access to data, and the legal consequences of incorrect reporting.

Specific Objectives: 

  • Increasing capacities of young students of law and journalism in fair journalistic reporting, compiling requests for access to public documents, and the legal consequences of inaccurate reporting;
  • Raising awareness and public debate about fair journalistic reporting and the safety of journalists.

Main Activities:

  • Organising seven training sessions with young journalism and law students on journalistic ethics and the legal consequences of incorrect reporting;
  • Offering legal assistance on access to public documents for journalism and law students;
  • Distributing 15 scholarships to students of journalism and law universities for conducting joint investigations;
  • Editing and publishing 15 investigations in cooperation with students who won the scholarships;
  • Producing two TV debates through the TV programmes “Life in Kosovo” and “Justice in Kosovo” on the topic of journalists’ security and accurate and impartial reporting;
  • Producing 5 long articles in Krypometër on the accuracy of information.

Target Groups:

  • Students of journalism and law;
  • Marginalised gender and ethnic groups;
  • Civil society.

Highlights:

  • 124 students were trained in Improving Research Reporting Standards Through Joint Experiences. The students were from different educational backgrounds, mainly from Journalism and Law. The training included students from the municipalities of Prishtina, Gjilan, Prizren and Mitrovica.
  • BIRN Kosovo distibuted 15 scholarships to students interested in investigating on and publishing a journalistic story while applying high journalistic standards;
  • BIRN Kosovo opened its legal office to assist students of Journalism and Law with access to public documents, with the aim of verifying facts.

 

Empowering Women to Seek Their Inheritance Rights

BIRN Kosovo

The project aims to educate, raise awareness and empower women about their property rights. Through TV, online publishing and social media, BIRN will reach out to women and men of all ages and ethnic backgrounds throughout Kosovo.

Summary

In addition to raising awareness, the activities also address the unsatisfactory level of implementation of the law, and the prolonged judicial procedures that discourage women from seeking their rights.

Information Sheet

Donor:

Funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), managed by Advocacy Training and Resource Center (ATRC)

Main Objective:

Enhance awareness among women and men in Kosovo regarding property rights.

Specific Objectives: 

Increasing the public’s awareness of women’s property rights through impartial and objective reporting on women’s inheritance rights through televised and online reporting;
Monitoring the implementation of the legal obligation to register property in the names of both spouses by political representatives and policymakers;
Contributing to positively influencing policies related to women’s inheritance rights by initiating public discussion and providing concrete policy recommendations.

Main Activities:

A series of 10 articles on the current state of affairs in the implementation of the legal framework pertaining to women’s inheritance rights;

Producing two televised analyses to be broadcast on the television programme Justice in Kosovo;

Publishing 4 extensive research papers in Gazeta Jeta ne Kosove;

Organising 2 roundtables to discuss the legislation pertaining to women’s inheritance;

Publishing five extensive legal analyses in Gazeta Jeta ne Kosove;

Drafting proposals for amendments to laws.

Target Groups:

The main target group for the programme ‘Engagement for Equity’ is women from ages 18-65. BIRN will target the stakeholders involved in judicial cases, while an extended target group will be the general public.

 

Investigative Journalism in Higher Education

BIRN Kosovo

This project aims to strengthen investigative journalism in the higher education sector in Kosovo, in order to increase accountability and reduce irregularities within the education system.

Summary

This project aims to strengthen investigative journalism in the higher education sector in Kosovo, in order to increase accountability and reduce irregularities within the education system.

Information Sheet

Donor:

Kosovo Foundation for Open Society (KFOS)

Main Objective:

Fighting impunity, corruption and other irregularities in higher education in Kosovo.

Specific Objectives: 

  • Strengthening investigative journalism about the issue of higher education;
  • Training and guidance for journalists in investigating higher education issues;
  • Advocacy for punishing corruption, irregularities, and lack of integrity in higher education through investigative journalism.

Main Activities:

Workshops, investigative fellowships, advocacy, and monitoring of institutions through media coverage, and an award for journalism.

Target Groups:

  • Journalists;
  • Stakeholders in higher education in Kosovo and the region, including representatives of institutions and civil society;
  • General public

 

Transparent Allocation of Public Funds for Media

BIRN Serbia

Summary

Through systematic research into the transparency of budget allocation, analysis of collected data, and practical policy suggestions for improving established practices, the project will affect the reduction of the ‘grey area’ in which there is a room for non-transparent treatment, discretionary interpretation and corruptive practices.
The policy change proposals will be promoted at four public debates, through social networks, websites and advocacy activities.

Donor: Ministry of Culture and Information Serbia

Information Sheet

Main Objective

Increasing transparency and accountability in the spending of budget money in the media sector by reducing regulatory risks of corruption, and monitoring and evaluating the effects of this type of public spending.

Specific Objectives

Systematic monitoring of the budgetary financing of the media: Improving the transparency of public allocation and procedures and practices of allocating public money through policy proposals and public advocacy.

Main Activities

A1: Data collection, monitoring and analysis
A2: Writing a proposal for practical policies – policy briefs
A3: Public advocacy

Target Groups

Primary target group: decision-makers at local and national level
Secondary target groups: professional organisations and associations, as well as other CSOs that have complementary public advocacy activities and with which BIRN cooperates; the general public.

Highlights

Results of the research
Policy briefs

Main implementer

BIRN Serbia

Media Investigations: Stop to READ (Regional Environmental Acts of Devastation)

BIRN Hub

The project aims to strengthen investigative reporting in Montenegro, which is being implemented by BIRN, CIN Montenegro and Monitor magazine. The project was funded by the EU Delegation in Podgorica.

Summary

Through intensive training, international mentoring and an investigative approach, the project has a goal to increase the capacities of CIN Montenegro, Monitor, and other media outlets whose journalists are taking part.

Within the project, the call for investigative stories with an environmental angle was launched in March 2018.

BIRN, CIN Montenegro and Monitor magazine held a training course in Podgorica in April  2018 for journalists, teaching the investigative skills needed to produce stories covering environmental issues. Topics covered by the course included investigative journalism techniques, online storytelling, multimedia training, video and photo editing, as well as information on domestic and EU politics in the sphere of environmental protection.

Three journalists have been awarded grants to cover their expenses while carrying out investigations and writing stories on the environment and related to Chapter 27 within the EU accession process.

Investigate for ME and EU

BIRN Hub

‘Investigate for ME and EU’, a project which is being implemented by the Center for Investigative Journalism of Montenegro (CIN-CG) and BIRN, began in February 2017. CIN and BIRN jointly won this grant in the first-ever EC media call to be organised in Montenegro.

Summary

Through its partnership with BIRN, CIN-CG – which was established just three years ago – will strengthen its capacities, both in terms of supporting journalistic investigations and in managing an EU project.

Investigative stories about the process of EU integration are produced by the members of CIN CG team and journalists from other Montenegrin media – those that are chosen in a call for the best investigative proposals, which is already open. They will deal with the biggest challenges in the country’s negotiations with the EU, including corruption, the rule of law, and environmental issues.

Project for Investigative Journalism and Cooperation Between Media and Civil Society – Second Part

BIRN Macedonia
For the ‘Project For Investigative Journalism And Cooperation Between Media And Civil Society’, BIRN Macedonia is working with NGO representatives and journalists to build and foster efficient links between media and non-governmental organisations with the goal of creating greater visibility for the NGOs and creating an environment for the production of more relevant investigative stories.

Donor: United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Summary

The project aims to support investigative journalists by giving financial support and providing a space for their stories to be published. The project is part of the USAID programme for strengthening independent media in Macedonia and is implemented in partnership with Center for Civil Communications, Center for Investigative Journalism – SCOOP Macedonia, TV magazine KOD and daily newspaper KOHA.

The project, which was launched in December 2012, has several different elements including fostering links between journalists and NGOs, training of NGO representatives, and supporting journalists to investigate and publish their stories.

Macedonia’s media are troubled by many challenges. The closure of independent and critical media, increasing pressure and government control over numerous media outlets and the rising trend of self-censorship have led to a journalism guided by the political and business interests of media owners and limited space for objective reporting, which has almost wiped out investigative reporting. At the same time, professional journalistic standards are largely ignored.

With this project, BIRN Macedonia is promoting and seeking to strengthen the relationship between the media and NGOs by identifying priority issues of common interest. Ten debates on different topics between journalists and NGOs are included. The goal is for the participants to identify the topics that need to be tackled.

BIRN Macedonia is supporting investigative journalism by opening 11 calls for investigative stories. More than 50 journalists will be awarded financial support for in-depth investigations on specific topics. The selected journalists will be provided with mentors from BIRN and partner organisations who will guide the journalists through the investigative process.

The project provides for the publishing of stories written by the selected journalists on a separate website designed for the project, but also via other media. The website will not only serve to publish the stories but also function as a database for NGOs and experts in various fields which journalists and NGO representatives can use to get the information and contacts they need.

BIRN Macedonia together with its partners will provide training and expertise for the NGOs and media through 10 workshops so they create a common language, and also train the NGOs to achieve higher visibility in the media.

Together with the KOD TV magazine, 17 investigative programmes will be created in the framework of the project.

In addition, the comprehensive databases and research on issues of wider interest will be published.

The project was initiated by BIRN Macedonia in 2012 and was supported by USAID.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:

To bridge the current gap between journalists and non-governmental organisations on issues of public interest.

To build operational and efficient partnerships between CSOs and media as the base for more objective journalism and a more informed public.

Specific Objectives:

Establish partnership relationships between media and CSOs that will enable long-term cooperation, instead of one-off contacts on issues of public interest. Currently media tend to ignore or use the work of CSOs selectively, thus depriving the public of the big picture. At the same time, both media and CSOs have not forged any strong ties or cooperative relationships.

Achieve greater visibility of the work of CSOs and in turn greater media legitimacy; design a line of communication between media and CSOs, so CSOs can arm journalists with necessary reporting information in the public interest, helping their professional, fact-based, and objective reports, resulting in more professional journalistic stories.

Support public interest journalism by improving journalists’ skills, capacities, tools, information and offering financial resources for in-depth and investigative reports, as well as space for the publishing of their stories, the project aims to create a pool of investigative journalists, create a web platform and contribute a significant number of reports on key issues.

Provide the public with better and more substantial information as the basis for making informed decisions (in their private lives, businesses and as members of society), raise public awareness on key issues and stir up debate.

Main Activities:

Identifying media and CSOs’ common issues through a series of public debates between journalists and CSO representatives.

Research on the current media coverage of the identified common issues through an in-depth monitoring of the way Macedonian media and journalists report on these issues

Creating a common language for CSOs and media through 10 workshops for CSOs.

Technical assistance to Macedonian journalists in reporting on important issues in a more professional, fact-based and objective way.

Providing journalists and CSOs with space for reporting issues of common interest and for offering citizens important information.

Sharing information and news reporting materials with other Balkan countries.

Delivered outputs:

17 debates on topics of public interest

10 workshops for cooperation between journalists and civil society organisations

11 calls for investigative stories

More than 100 CSO representatives involved in the project’s activities

2 media monitoring reports on reporting on topics of public interest

16 journalists awarded with scholarships to participate in BIRN’s Summer School for Investigative Reporting

4 complex databases developed

17 TV investigations produced

55 investigative reports supported through the calls for investigative stories

24 databases with analysis on given topics

Over 150 investigative reports published on the website prizma.mk

1 interactive web application developed

Target Groups:

Journalists and CSOs from Macedonia

Highlights:

The investigations that originated from the project have received numerous awards and acknowledgments for investigative journalism in Macedonia, such as, the Nikola Mladenov award, the Jashar Erebara award and the European Union award for investigative journalism, to name a few.

The database ‘Skopje 2014 Uncovered’ was awarded the best investigation for 2015 by the Macedonian Media Institute. The BIRN Team received the Nikola Mladenov award for investigative journalism for this investigation.

The 2016 winner of the Nikola Mladenov award was the KOD Team for the TV investigation ‘The Case of Kosta Krpach’, which was supported by the project.

‘Skopje 2014 Uncovered’ was also awarded the second prize for investigative journalism in 2015 by the EU Delegation in Macedonia, while Boris Georgievski was awarded the first prize for ‘Dossier Telecom’, published on Prizma.

BIRN journalist Vlado Apostolov won the Jashar Erebara award for investigative journalism from the Association of Journalists of Macedonia in 2016 for the investigation ‘Dossier Zdravev’.

The database on agricultural subsidies was awarded the best investigation of 2016 by the EU.

The database ‘Foreign Investments Uncovered’ is shortlisted for the Global Data Journalism Award for 2017 in the Small Newsroom category.

Going Public About Corruption: Investigating Abuses of Funds and Positions

BIRN Serbia

Summary

The high level of corruption in Serbia is hampering implementation of necessary social reforms while traditional media are failing to adequately report about it, especially about corruption coming from the centers of political power.

In response to this situation, BIRN Serbia is conducting a project that contributes to anti-corruption efforts in Serbian society and reaffirming the role of media in putting limitations on corruption by exposing and opening up a wide-ranging public debate about the misuse of public funds or positions.

Donor: National Endowment for Democracy

Information Sheet

Main Objective:

To contribute to anti-corruption efforts by publicly exposing cases of corruption, abuse of public funds or posts, obstacles to access to justice which distort the application of the rule of law.

Specific Objectives:

  • The project will make an impact on current state of affairs by addressing the deficit of quality reporting about corruption, and at the same time broaden public support for investigative reporting.
  • The project will rely mostly on Internet-based resources as this is one of the forums for public debate and social interaction that is not strictly controlled by the government in power. Internet platforms are also convenient for presentation of large data sets, as BIRN investigations rely on vast research and numerous pieces of data and documents that validate the stories.
  • The project will apply a cross-sector approach, concentrating primarily on issues related to public spending and management of public resources in the judiciary system and in large state infrastructure projects. In this way the project will increase transparency and tackle some of the most opaque state-run sectors which show the least potential for reform and the largest potential for corruption.
  • The judiciary system is going through various reforms and is still largely influenced by executive powers, while national infrastructure projects are one of the most expensive endeavors to be implemented without any public insight. The project will demonstrate the practical application of data-driven journalism, which helps present complex stories based on numerous documents, pieces of data and sources to a large audience in a comprehensive way, utilizing online data visualization tools and a multimedia approach.

Main Activities:

  • journalistic production
  • creation/update of databases
  • promotion and raising awareness

Target Groups:

  • public administration
  • media, journalists, media organizations
  • the broader public

Highlights:

4 investigative stories, 2 databases

Main implementer:

BIRN Serbia