Transparent Allocation of Public Funds for Media

BIRN Serbia


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.


Results of the research
Policy briefs

Main implementer

BIRN Serbia

Investigate for ME and EU


‘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.


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)


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

1 interactive web application developed

Target Groups:

Journalists and CSOs from Macedonia


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


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


4 investigative stories, 2 databases

Main implementer:

BIRN Serbia

Digital Media Action for Freedom of Expression in Serbia

BIRN Serbia


The project aims to open up space for different opinions and responsible community voices. In this way it responds to the lack of functional debate and to the very centralised information system which leaves a large part of the country outside the capital in isolation.

Donor: British Embassy Belgrade

Information Sheet

Main Objective:

To increase the influence and capacities of selected online media to become a primary source of information in their communities, contributing to informed debate on government performance and accountability.

Specific Objectives:

  • The project will utilise the existing community to initiate quality debate and engagement.
  • At the same time, the project will work towards expanding online outlets’ number of followers and fostering information flow. throughout the country to provide credible information from all parts of Serbia to the public.
  • This will have positive impact not just on the Serbian public, being better informed, but also to participating portals as their profile and influence will be strengthened.

Main Activities:

  • support of online portals that have potential to become genuine information platforms and that will enable quality production on national, regional and local digital platforms.
  • cooperation of media outlets in the production and dissemination of the content with the aim of initiating informed debate about the accountability of public officials in a media environment that lacks pluralism and critical analysis.

Target Groups:

  • editors
  • journalists
  • sales managers
  • tech. support


10 articles, 15 videos/visualisations

Main implementer:

BIRN Serbia


  • Portal Juzne Vesti
  • Portal Danas

Fostering Transparency Through Investigative Reporting

BIRN Albania

The project includes journalistic training and mentoring, investigative reporting, and publishing on cases of public procurement fraud, conflict of interests, and corruption in Albania. The aim of this project is to enhance independent and professional investigative journalism as a mean to increase accountability, transparency, and anti-corruption mechanisms on public procurement procedures.


The aim of this project is to enhance independent and professional investigative journalism as a means to increase accountability, transparency, and anti-corruption mechanisms in public procurement procedures.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:Specific Objectives:
  • To enhance journalistic skills in Albania through on-the-job mentoring and regular investigative journalism training, enabling journalists to conduct complex investigative stories about corruption cases on public procurement procedures.
  • To raise the capacities of Albanian journalists to implement the new “Freedom of Information” law as a tool to support greater transparency and accountability of public institutions.
  • To enable other journalists, civil society representatives and researchers to have access to a database with documents received through “Freedom of Information” requests from public institutions.
  • To raise the capacities of journalists to understand the public procurement law in order to better report on corruption and abuse of power cases in the public procurement sector.

Project on Accountability in Local Governance through Citizen Participation and Civic Journalism

BIRN Albania

This project aims to bridge the gap between local voters and mayor candidates ahead of the 2015 local government elections, by strengthening the capacities of CSOs, grassroots organizations, activists and the media – in order to identify and generate public debate on the key issues that local communities face.


Project for Assessing Self-Censorship in the Albanian Media

BIRN Albania

BIRN Albania will carry out a study that will highlight the root cause of self-censorship in the local media and its consequences, with a particular focus on the access to information of vulnerable groups. The study aims to raise awareness on the practice and its negative effects not only on the journalistic profession but also on the right to freedom of information and freedom of expression in Albania.


Sports Bag without Bottom: Research on Budgetary Spending in Sport

BIRN Serbia – past programme

Since 2009 under the umbrella of “Eye on Public Finances” programme, BIRN Serbia is conducting several projects related to public spending and monitoring of transparency of public finances.


Over the years, BIRN Serbia has developed specific methodology in tracking budgetary spending by combining media reporting and advocacy activities. Accessing the data on public spending using the provisions of FOI law, BIRN is launching investigative journalistic reporting which then drives other advocacy and watchdog actions.

The same methodology will be applied again, in conducting the research on budgetary financing of sport. BIRN will take closer look into these budgetary practices, on both national and local level, particularly on financing of sport clubs and sport associations. Besides two journalists working in BIRN Serbia, in this project 4 external journalists will be engaged, covering the field work in South, Southwest Serbia and Vojvodina.

Series of at least five investigative articles will be published on BIRN’s platforms, and Balkan Insight, while promotion will be organized via social networks. Articles will be offered to national and local media for republishing and initiating their own stories and reports.

It expected that project contributes to increase of public knowledge on sport financing and that it will provoke the reaction of authorities to make improvements of the future practices.   

The project is financed by The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
Overall goal of this project is put spotlight and introduce public to practices of budgetary spending in sport and sport clubs, on both national and local level.
Specific Objectives:
  • Contribute to transparency of public finances through mapping the mechanisms of budgetary spending in sport
  • Uplift the quality of media production by publishing and promoting series of investigative articles via Internet platforms and social networks
  • Raise awareness of public and provoke reaction of the authorities introducing them to budgetary practices and possible corruption cases in the financing of sport.

Main Activities:

  • Production of investigative articles, which encompasses formation of journalistic team, gathering of documentation (using FOI law), analyses of data and documents, writing storis, editorial and publishing on BIRN web platforms.
  • Promotion of investigative articles, which includes publishing on and other BIRN platforms and promotion on BIRN’s Facebook and Tweeter official accounts. Articles will be offered to other media outlets for republishing and initiating their own stories.

Target Groups:

  • Public administration / Ministries,
  • local self-governments,
  • sport clubs and sport associations;
  • media, journalists, media organizations;
  • broader public.

Enhancing Media Independence through Development of Sustainable and Competitive Financing Model

BIRN Serbia – past programme

Proposed project works towards development of non-discriminatory, consistent and transparent model for financing media production in order to enable citizens to exercise their right to complete, timely and objective information.


According to the Media Strategy and Law on Public Information and Media, public funds should be allocated to the media outlets only through the open call procedure which is opposite to the current practice based on which majority of funds for media are allocated directly (73%), while smaller portion is allocated based on the open calls for projects and through tenders (17%).

BIRN will conduct the research on the current practice of media financing through projects, resulting in development of recommendations for optimal model to be applied, as well as for the monitoring and evaluation of the future practice. Follow up advocacy meetings will enable broad public and stakeholders understanding of the proposed measures, and eventually their buy in for application of standards developed through this project.

Overall aim of the project is to contribute to the protection of public interest through provision of independent and quality media production and more transparent public spending.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
Overall goal of this project is to protect public interest through provision of independent and quality media production and more transparent public spending.
Specific Objectives:
Specific goal is to develop non-discriminatory, consistent and transparent system of financing media production through project financing.

This goals will be reached through analysis of current practice of project financing, developing set of recommendations for programme financing and advocating for its future implementation as planned by new Law on public information.

Main Activities:

  • Conduct research on current practice of media project financing through: 1) documentary research od administrative practices, rules, legal regulations and procedures, 2) content analysis of programs co-financed by republican Ministry of Culture and Public Information, Vojvodina Secretariat of Culture and Information and selected local self-governments and 3) questionnaires among media which were selected for financing
  • Production of the Analysis on project financing practice and recommendations for the future reference.
  • Organization of five round tables that will gather all stakeholders - media professionals, representatives of media outlets and public institutions, media law practitioners, international institutions and students of various faculties for journalism, media or communication. Round tables will be organized at Belgrade, Novi Sad, Nis, Kragujevac and Novi Pazar
  • Promotion and dissemination of the Analysis- electronic version of the Analysis will be disseminated among relevant public national and regional institutions as well as all LSGs, media outlets, CSOs and international institutions. Besides, the Analysis will be published in PDF format on BIRN and Media Coalition websites and printed in 100 samples to be disseminated to the participants of Round table.

Target Groups:

  • Public administration / Ministries,
  • Vojvodina Secretariat,
  • local self-governments;
  • media, journalists, media organizations;
  • broader public.


First Analytical Report dedicated to media project financing ever published in Serbia.