BIRN Albania-Supported Journalists Win Investigative Award

The OSCE Presence in Albania has given Rashela Shehu and Fiori Sinoruka its award for the best investigative story for 2020 for their investigation into the impact of the lack of financing of scientific research on Albania’s public universities.

The OSCE Presence in Albania has given Rashela Shehu and Fiori Sinoruka its award for the best investigative story for 2020 for their investigation into the impact of the lack of financing of scientific research on Albania’s public universities.

The investigation, entitled ‘Lack of Scientific Research Leaves Albania in Ruins’ was published by BIRN Albania’s publication Reporter.al.

The investigation was supported by BIRN Albania as part of an open call for investigative stories, backed by the National Endowment for Democracy.

As well as Shehu and Sinoruka, two other journalists were awarded grants to cover their expenses to conduct investigations and write stories on the education system in Albania.

Fiori Sinokura is a freelance journalist based in Tirana and a former participant in BIRN’s Resonant Voices Fellowship. Rashela Shehu is a television journalist with Albania’s national broadcaster TV Klan.

BIRN Kosovo and jCoders Academy Hold Film-Making Course

jCoders Academy, in partnership with BIRN Kosovo, held the last event of its film-making course on March 27, when high school students presented their video productions.

jCoders Academy, in partnership with BIRN Kosovo, held the last event of its film-making course on March 27, when high school students presented their video productions.

The film-making course, which makes up part of an EU-funded project entitled ‘Solidifying the Resilience of Kosovo’s Current and Future Journalists’, offered eight months of hands-on training that focused on enabling students to tell stories through video and other media content.

At practical workshops, students learned a number of skills including video editing, scriptwriting, pitching and the basics of journalism, with each part of the training course playing a role in preparing students for their final video project.

A total of 75 high school students, 41 of them female, from municipalities across Kosovo including Pristina, Mitrovica, Gjilan, Peja and Prizren, took part in the training programme.

Over a period of eight months, students participated in various phases of the programme including the technical training phase, in which they learned how to use the video editing tool Adobe Premier Pro, the Design Thinking Marathon, through which students selected topics for their final project, and the training and implementation phase, in which students learned new techniques for creating video content and started working on their video presentations.

Students also learned about the basics of journalism through three sessions with guest speaker Jeta Xharra, BIRN Kosovo’s executive director. Xharra spoke about the importance of news, ethics and tackling false information, and shared her experienced with students, helping them create their video work.

At the final event, students presented their video projects in front of an audience of trainers, project representatives and their peers. The event was held at Kino Armata, a local cinema, with fewer than 50 attendees due to measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

A total of 13 videos were presented by various groups covering topics including patriarchy, Down’s Syndrome, the traditions of the Roma community, mental health, deforestation, the education system in Kosovo, the pandemic and its consequences in schools, child labour, cinematography, and functional illiteracy.

The videos were published on BIRN Kosovo’s KALLXO Rinia (KALLXO Youth) platform, as well as on its social media pages. Participants were provided with certificates for successfully finishing the programme.

BIRN Kosovo and its partner jCoders Academy’s aim for the project was to help students learn about technology and develop skills that will be necessary for their future.

BIRN Kosovo holds second training on fact-checking and tackling misinformation

On March 24 and 25, BIRN Kosovo, in partnership with the International Press Institute, IPI, held its second two-day training course on tackling disinformation and establishing fact-checking methods.

During the online course, which was part of the “Solidifying the Resilience of Kosovo’s Current and Future Journalists” project, and funded by the EU in Kosovo, participants interacted via video call with specialists from around the world.

On the first day, Carina Van Wyk, head of education and training at Africa Check, Africa’s first independent fact-checking organisation, introduced the topic “Dealing with the (mis)infodemic.” Van Wyk explained how false information spreads, and outlined tips and tools for identifying fake news websites, images and videos used to spread false information.

Allwell Okpi, a researcher and community manager at Africa Check’s Nigeria office, then spoke about how fact-checkers work to adhere to the International Fact-Checking Network’s code of principles, the fact-checking process, and on ways in which journalists can apply it to their work.

In the last session of the first day, Keegan Leech, a researcher at Africa Check based in Johannesburg, spoke more about health and science reporting in the “infodemic” age, sharing tips on finding credible data and preparing for an onslaught of false information related to the COVID-19 vaccines.

The second day was covered by Eoghan Sweeney, an open-source investigation specialist and trainer who over the past decade has helped to establish and develop digital verification and fact-checking operations at media organisations across the globe.

The session covered various topics, including geolocating content and techniques that help figure out the precise location shown in a piece of content. Sweeney also elaborated on issues like source analysis (knowing more about a source’s identity, authenticity and motivations), dealing with the public (how to approach the owners of user-generated content), as well as maintaining integrity and the ethics of investigating as information becomes more easily available.

A total of 34 participants took part in the training, 27 of whom were women.

BIRN and IPI believe that the training will help young journalists tackle fake news and unverified reporting by helping them spot fake news and provide verified information that adheres to journalistic standards.

The delivered knowledge was practical, and will help journalists develop these skills further, while the trainers also expressed a readiness to remain at the participants’ disposal regarding any questions that arise after the two training days come to an end.