The course, the first step in the establishment of a network of BIRN journalists in Montenegro, was launched at a press conference attended by several TV and radio stations, along with Dragana Nikolic Solomon, BIRN Serbia and Montenegro director, Gordana Igric, BIRN development director, Dragana Obradovic Zarkovic, BIRN project co-ordinator, Marcus Tanner, BIRN Balkan editor and trainer, and BIRN guest Tim Judah.
The participants were: Petar Komnenic, Monitor magazine; Nedjeljko Rudovic, Vijesti; Sead Sadikovic, freelance journalist; Tufik Softic, editor of Radio Berane; Zeljko Madzgalj, editor of Polje; Samir Adrovic, bureau chief of Vijesti in Ulcinj; Izedina Adzovic, Radio Tuzi; Nikola Doncic, Monitor correspondent in Kotor; and Marijana Camovic, correspondent of Vijesti in Tuzi. Bojana Stanisic of Dan was unable to attend, but is to take part in future training programmes.
Judah opened the course with a lecture on reporting from war zones as a freelance journalist. He spoke of his own such experiences in the Balkans, Iraq and Uganda, giving practical tips on how to cover conflicts.
Nikolic-Solomon followed with a short introduction to BIRN and its editing and commissioning processes. She explained why it is essential for BIRN to adhere to international journalistic standards and why they are helpful, especially for Balkan journalists.
Igric spoke about international libel laws, which all local journalists need to be acquainted with if they hope to published in international and local editions of BIRN. She also instructed course participants on how to write news analysis, emphasising the need to ensure balance and make clear distinctions between fact and opinion.
Tanner concentrated on feature writing, focusing on article structure and commonly-made mistakes. He also provided examples of striking feature writing.
Gertraud Illermeir, Belgrade correspondent of Die Presse, gave valuable insights into the role of the foreign correspondent.
Following the theoretical part of the course, Tanner, Nikolic-Solomon and Igric took part in one-to-one training and commissioned stories from participants, which will feature in a special Montenegro package due to be published by BIRN at the end of March.
The second part of the course is scheduled to take place in Budva, following the vote on Montenegrin independence slated for May 21.
Petar Komnenic,who attended the course, said, “I liked the course because it was informative and practical. I was especially impressed by Tim Judah’s lecture. I hope that I will be able to cooperate with BIRN in the future.”