Shkodrane Dakaj

On her path to becoming a journalist, Shkodranja took on an internship at in July 2021, and has since been promoted to a Junior Investigative Journalist role.

Shkodranja is a final year student of a Bachelor of Journalism at the University of Prishtina “Hasan Prishtina”.

Her strong desire to write about the topics of justice and security, pushed Shkodranja to enroll in the Faculty of Law/Criminalistics at AAB college as further tertiary study.

Aside from writing about security, law, and politics, Shkordanja finds herself writing about health.


Winning Applications Selected for Gender-Based Violence Reporting Project

Winning applications from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia have been selected for BIRN’s new Reporting on Gender-Based Violence in the Balkans Programme.

Eleven journalists and writers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia have been selected to work on story proposals that aim to shed light on the issue of gender-based violence in the Balkans from various perspectives.

BIRN’s progamme was designed in collaboration with the NGO Atina, and in the coming months it will explore the issues such as the state of education on sexual abuse, violence against women in politics, psychological violence against women, online gender-based violence, links between extremism and the abuse of women and the economic aspects of gender inequality.

Reporting on Gender-Based Violence in the Balkans is an eight-month programme that will consisted of on-the-job mentoring and editorial sessions to produce high-quality journalism, as well as educational sessions focused on gender-based violence.

Participants will receive financial support and assistance; each selected individual or team will get a bursary to support the reporting process.

The programme is supported by Balkan Trust for Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade.


Meet the People Behind BIRN: Alexis Traussi

Each month, BIRN introduces you to a different member of its staff. For September, meet Alexis Traussi, BIRN’s Social Media Manager.

Alexis, who is 26-year-old, is coming from New York. She studied History and English Literature and she is BIRN’s Social Media Manager. She has been working for the organization since 2017.

Social media, posts, algorithms, audience, numbers, statistics, a job that needs creativity, speed, patience, wit and observance. Nowadays, people are “consuming” news through social media. Many people believe that it’s an easy job to do, but it’s not, especially when you are working for a news outlet like Balkan Insight, with readers from the Balkans and all over the world.

Social media needs from you to be fast but news is circulating fast as well. “When we get breaking news, or have ongoing events, protests, trials, then we can be some of the first people to get information out to the public. On the other hand, I have gone through our archives and love sharing evergreen stories that readers have forgotten about, but are still very relevant,” states Alexis.

Alexis is telling us that the hardest part of the job comes with how much you need to stay on top. “When I was beginning, I was so overwhelmed with knowing who is who, where different things were happening, things like that. Now, I feel like I know more about the region than I know about in New York, where I am from. It takes a lot of effort to stay informed and to fact check in order to publish facts for our followers,” she adds.

Her favorite part of her job is when she is following live events. “There is an energy in the team, where we are all working intensely and sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to see the outcome of something,” she says.

What Balkan Insight’s readers prefer to read? Stories about Former Yugoslavia, are quite popular. “I think that many people have very varying emotional ties to the former country and its history. It’s interesting to see how people respond to these stories because they are always impactful,” states Alexis.

Alexis suggests that the best “recipe” to be good at your job is to ask questions: “Make sure that you understand a story before sharing it, because you can sometimes get burned that way”.



BIRN Albania Opens Call for Documentary Film

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania invites local production companies from Albania to send proposals for a feature-length documentary on the topics of demographic changes, migration and youth.

The documentary can explore the three topics in the Albanian context seperately or together, depending on the artistic perspective of the director and screenwriter.

The production of this documentary is part of the project “Using Big Data and Multimedia to Boost Quality and Independent Journalism in Albania”, co-funded by the European Union and implemented by BIRN.

The main objective of this project is to create an enabling environment for Albanian journalists to produce independent content through training, mentoring, technical and financial support, and close cooperation with civil society, thus improving the freedom of expression and strengthening media pluralism in the country.

Please find attached the application package in Albanian:



Women in Balkan Media ‘Still Far from Top Positions’

Journalists’ associations and state institutions in the Balkans should do more to support female journalists and ensure that they achieve equal representation in top managerial positions, experts told a BIRN panel discussion.

Even though the vast majority of reporters in the Balkans are women, top management positions are still dominated by their male counterparts and more needs to be done to ensure equal representation, an online panel discussion organised by BIRN as a part of regional Media for All project on Tuesday was told.

Jeta Xharra, country director of BIRN in Kosovo, who moderated the expert discussion entitled ‘Platform B: Power Dynamics in Media: Why Don’t We Have More Women in Top Management Positions?’, said that there are few female managers in the media industry in the Balkans.

Representation of women in the media is also usually problematic, Xharra argued. “[Media] often misrepresent women, distort them, and in the Balkans, media often focus on their sexual attributes instead of their ideas, activities and successes,” she said.

The picture is equally grim in all the Balkan countries, where women are very rarely owners of media outlets or hold management positions, reports have shown. Women are more equal to their male counterparts at the level of editor-in-chief, but the majority work at lower levels, as journalists or content creators.


Biljana Petkovska, director of the Macedonian Institute for Media said that various recently-published reports have highlighted the problems that female journalists are facing in North Macedonia, including well-established narratives that they are “less capable [than men] of doing their job” or that they achieved their career goals by inappropriate behaviour.

Petkovska said that journalists’ associations, media institutes and media outlets themselves should “strengthen support for women journalists and establish mechanisms in cases of threats, sexist insults, hate speech and violence. In that way, not only would relevant institutions be alerted but this issue will raise awareness among the public, who should be the greatest protectors of journalists.”

Ivana Pavlovic, editor of Nova Ekonomija in Serbia, argued that it is important for state institutions to support female journalists, both through regulation and by helping media associations.

“We need to insist on a general institutional framework that governments are setting, especially when we are talking about remote work, maternity leave, because now we [female journalists] depend on the goodwill of our bosses, husbands and whoever is supporting our families,” Pavlovic said.

Marijana Bojanic, CEO at Vijesti in Montenegro, said that there are a lot of women in the media in her country, many of whom are directors and editors of leading outlets, but that does not mean they are really in top positions.

“In Montenegrin media outlets, we have women running the business, but they are not owners [of these outlets] and they do not have capital,” Bojanic said.

Bojanic, who was a journalist and editor before going on to become a CEO, argued that female media workers are always “first on the front line” when it comes to reporting.

She said that this was particularly true when the COVID-19 crisis struck in March 2020, when her female colleagues decided to stay and work even though they could have taken leave.

Beti Njuma, a journalist at Ora News in Albania, said that in her country, like elsewhere in the world, women have to overcome many barriers in order to achieve better positions in the media sector.

“One of my main concerns is the underestimated role of women journalists in addressing human rights abuses in Albania but also region-wide and worldwide. I have 20 years of experience in journalism, and I can say that it is not easy to be a leader in the media sector, especially in broadcasting in Albania,” Njuma said.

This event is organised as a part of the regional “Media for All” project. The project is implemented by consortium led by the British Council, along with BIRN, Thomson Foundation and INTRAC.


BIRN and n-ost hold Fact-checking Workshop in Herceg Novi

BIRN Hub and partner organisation n-ost held a workshop about fact-checking and ways to deal with misinformation for nine local media outlets from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia from August 30 to September 2 in Herceg Novi, Montenegro, which included a public “journalism slam” event in the city.

During the workshop, trainers from FakeNews Tragac Stefan Janjic and Milovan Nikolic presented participants with the most important fact-checking tips and tools they can use in their everyday work.

Participants were given time to practise how to identify misinformation and use the tools, but also to brainstorm ideas on best ways to promote media literacy within their audiences.

The participants also had the opportunity to meet with other organisations who make efforts to identify misinformation in the region, with guest speakers from Istinomer (Serbia) and Digital Forensic Center (Montenegro).

From their own perspective, the speakers shared their experience of cooperation with Facebook on fact-checking, different research and data they have compiled on behaviour on social media, as well as their expectations for the future of fake news in countries of the region, and more.

On the last night of the workshop, a journalism “slam” was organised in the town centre. This was an event during which local journalists used a selected publication or topic to explain conditions for local journalism, their motivations and the challenges they face in their everyday work.

Speakers at this event were local journalists Nebojsa Mandic and Slavica Kosic, editor Vanja Stokic from Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hadzera Hadzibeti from RTV Teuta, based in Ulcinj, Montenegro.

Guests at the event had an opportunity to ask questions and exchange more in-depth information about the topics that the journalists had presented.

This was a second workshop organised as part of the project entitled “Local Journalism – European Perspectives” after the first one held in Tuzla, Bosnia, in June.

Progress after the first workshop was discussed along with plans for stronger engagement with audiences and possible implementation of crowdfunding campaigns.

The “Local journalism – European perspectives” project is financed by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.


BIRN Kosovo Holds Training on ‘Redirect Method’ – to Prevent and Counter Violent Extremism and Terrorism

From 24 to 27 July, BIRN Kosovo, with the support of the IOM Office in Kosovo, held trainings on the Redirect Method – a technique developed to prevent and counter violent extremism and terrorism by utilizing the power and influence that social media has nowadays.

The training sessions brought together officers from the Kosovo Police and the Interior Ministry, legal and IT officers from Courts and Prosecutors’ Offices, as well as representatives of media and civil society organisations.

Besides being trained on the Redirect Method, the representatives of the aforementioned institutions and organisations were given the opportunity to address obstacles they have faced while working on preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism, as well as engage on discussions and share best practices from different perspectives.

The content was delivered by Kreshnik Gashi, a certified trainer on the Redirect Method and editor-in-chief at, and by Labinot Leposhtica, head of the legal office at BIRN Kosovo and court monitoring project manager.


Meet the People Behind BIRN: Hamdi Firat Buyuk

Each month, BIRN introduces you to a different member of its staff. For August, meet Hamdi Firat Buyuk, Balkan Insight’s correspondent in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Firat, who is now 31, joined BIRN in 2016. He has been working as a journalist since 2013. He mainly reports on Turkish foreign policy, democracy and politics, as well as Turkey’s influence in the Balkans. He also focuses on Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Sandzak region of Serbia.

His love of story-telling and uncovering hidden stories drove him to become a journalist, he says. Firat believes that knowledge is one of the greatest powers and that the more informed people are, the stronger they are.

“With my reporting, I aim to increase awareness and interest in democracy, the rule of law, rights and freedoms and good neighbourly relations in the greater Balkan region,” he says. The favourite pieces he has written for Balkan Insight are ‘Diaspora Politics: Turkey’s New Balkan Ambassadors’ and ‘In Muslim Region of Serbia, Ottoman-era Mosques Perish’.

When asked how hard it is to be a journalist in the Balkan region today, he replies: “Being a journalist has never been easy. As many other journalists, I have been blackmailed, labelled and threatened many times.

“Even though I have been demoralised and felt very insecure several times, I have never considered quitting or changing my job. I did not want others who want us to be silenced to win. I think if we accept defeat easily, that would a disgrace for friends and colleagues who have been persecuted, attacked and lost their lives because of their job,” says Firat.

His advice to people who live in Turkey and the Balkans and aspire to work as journalists is to be open-minded and tolerant, but also “resilient against those who want you to be silenced because good reporting always makes some – usually people in power – uncomfortable”, he says.

Another important asset is to have wide-ranging knowledge. “Studying in journalism schools alone does not always make us good reporters. Having knowledge of different disciplines such as history, politics, international relations, languages, the environment, technology, the economy and other related fields makes us stronger and different, which allows us to see things through many lenses,” he concludes.


BIRN’s Investigative Summer School 2021 Opens in Croatia

For the 11th time, BIRN’s flagship Summer School of Investigative Reporting is bringing together journalists and award-winning trainers for a week-long programme intended to develop skills and explore new techniques.

This year’s Summer School of Investigative Reporting started on Monday in the Croatian coastal village of Mlini with lectures about how to use open-source investigative techniques and to trace the documents behind policy decisions.

During the week-long programme, 32 journalists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Romania, Turkey, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Moldova, Greece and Croatia will be acquiring new investigative skills and techniques but also working on real investigative reports.

For the first time this summer, the applicants had the chance to choose one of four course themes: Arms, Surveillance, Agriculture and Waste. During the week, they will be divided into four teams, led by trainers from BIRN and Lighthouse Reports, to investigate leads and produce cross-border stories.

Marija Ristic, the regional director of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and also one of the lead trainers, welcomed the participants and trainers on Monday, saying that the Summer School is a unique opportunity for journalists across the region to gain skills from top trainers in investigative journalism.

“We will also have a bit of a different programme than usual, consisting of both training sessions and working on stories covering pressing issues like surveillance, the arms trade and environmental topics. The work on the investigations will continue after the School but we aim to finish as much as we can during this week,” Ristic said.

Ludo Hekman, another lead trainer and editor and founder of the Lighthouse Reports, said that the concept of the School enables journalists to immediately apply what they have learned in working on actual investigative stories.

“This is an efficient and inspiring way to work. It is also important if you can apply what you learn immediately; another objective is to learn from one another and go home with the report, with some compelling information,” Hekman said.

After the opening remarks, Leone Hadavi, a freelance open source investigator and a contributor to the Lighthouse EUArms project, held a session entitled ‘Open-Source Investigative Techniques: Basics for Investigative Journalism’.

 Hadavi introduced the participants to open-source investigative techniques and talked about their importance in conducting investigations. He offered various useful tips and tools on how to do an image reverse search and how to geo-locate videos and images found on social media.

“It happens sometimes that you receive images or videos from people arguing that something happened yesterday or two years ago. We cannot trust anyone and we need to verify every single piece of information we get,” Hadavi explained.

The first day ended with Lise Witteman, an independent reporter on the EU who specialises in following the paper trails of European decision-making processes. Witteman explained to the participants how to trace the documents that lie behind policy decisions.

She said that following European Union politics is tough and was particularly so when she first began covering it: “It was a challenge to decide what could be a story as there were so many files, so many documents, you could drown in all this information,” she said.

She also talked about the toolbox she has developed over the years, which helps her search through documents, names and procurements to narrow down the huge amounts of information.

In the coming days, there will be sessions focusing on data journalism and investigating the management of borders. The vast majority of the time, however, will be dedicated to working in groups and investigating specific leads that relate to the four chosen topics.



Call for Applications: Basic Journalism Training for High School Students

As part of the EU-supported “Solidifying the Resilience of Kosovo’s Current and Future Journalists” project, BIRN Kosovo is seeking students from Kosovo’s public high schools interested in undergoing training in media production, media literacy and tackling fake news. In June 2021, two training sessions from the same program were held with a total of 35 high school students from Gjilan and Ferizaj.

There is currently a promising generation of high school students in Kosovo who have the talent, creative ideas and willingness to engage in investigative journalism, but the media lacks a specific platform to provide these students the chance to express their skills through writing and community reporting.

In order to capitalize on the interest in journalism among young people, and in an attempt to plug the gap in the education system, BIRN Kosovo will organize eight (8) additional training sessions for high school students in a program that aims to nurture young talent by mentoring students in the production of videos, photos and articles in order to achieve the main goal of the activity which is to lay the path for increased independence, transparency, accountability and civic engagement.

The training sessions will introduce the students to journalism, including topics like journalistic language and concepts, reporting standards, photography tips, production materials for video content, video editing, investigative journalism, ethics and author’s rights.

At the end of each training session, youngsters from high schools across Kosovo will pitch their journalistic ideas, which the BIRN team will collect and thoroughly analyse before selecting a minimum of 60 video and article ideas that will be published on the online platform KallxoRinia. The production process for all of these articles will be overseen by a team of BIRN Kosovo editors.

Who can apply?

Students attending Social Studies departments at Kosovo’s public high schools of the regions such as: Prishtina, Mitrovica, Prizren, Gorazdveac within the Peja region, Gjakova, Drenas, Malisheva and Rahovec.

The number of participants is limited in each training session due to restrictions preventing the spread of COVID-19. A maximum 25 participants per training will be selected.

How to apply?

Please fill in the form provided in the link below:

Deadline for applications: 10:00 (C.E.T.) on August 31, 2021

Thirrje për aplikim: Trajnim bazik në Gazetari për studentët e shkollave të mesme

BIRN Kosova, në bashkëpunim me Institutin Ndërkombëtar të Medias (IPI) është në kërkim të nxënësve nga shkollat publike të Kosovës të interesuar për të qenë pjesë e trajnimit për prodhim medial dhe shkrim-lexim mediatik si dhe trajtimin e lajmeve të rreme si pjesë e projektit “Solidifikimi i Qëndrueshmërisë së Gazetarëve të Tanishëm dhe të Ardhshëm të Kosovës“, i cili mbështetet nga BE. Në qershor 2021, u mbajtën dy trajnime nga i njëjti program me gjithsej 35 nxënës të shkollave të mesme nga Gjilani dhe Ferizaji.

Aktualisht ekziston një gjeneratë premtuese e nxënësve të shkollave të mesme në Kosovë që kanë talent, ide krijuese dhe gatishmëri për t’u angazhuar në gazetari hulumtuese, mirëpo media nuk ka një platformë specifike për t’u siguruar këtyre studentëve mundësinë për të shprehur aftësitë e tyre përmes shkrimit dhe raportimit lokal.

Me qëllim që të përfitojnë nga interesimi i të rinjve në gazetari, dhe në një përpjekje për të plotësuar boshllëkun në sistemin arsimor, BIRN Kosova do të organizojë tetë (8) seanca trajnimi për nxënës të shkollave të mesme në një program që synon të shtojë talentin e të rinjve duke mentoruar studentët në prodhimin e videove, fotove dhe artikujve në mënyrë që të arrihet qëllimi kryesor i aktivitetit që është vë bazat për rritjen e pavarësisë, transparencës, llogaridhënies dhe angazhimit qytetar.

Sesionet trajnuese do t’i njohin studentët me gazetarinë, duke përfshirë tema si gjuha dhe konceptet gazetareske, standardet e raportimit, këshillat e fotografisë, materialet e prodhimit për përmbajtjen e videos, redaktimi i videos, gazetaria hulumtuese, etika dhe të drejtat e autorit.

Në fund të çdo sesioni trajnimi, të rinjtë nga shkollat e mesme anembanë Kosovës do t’i paraqesin idetë e tyre gazetareske, të cilat ekipi i BIRN do t’i mbledhë dhe do t’i analizojë hollësisht para se ta bëjë përzgjedhjen e një minimumi prej 60 videosh dhe ide shkrimi që do të publikohen në platformën në internet KallxoRinia. Procesi i prodhimit për të gjithë këta artikuj do të mbikëqyret nga një ekip i redaktorëve të BIRN-it në Kosovë.

Kush mund të aplikojë?

Studentët të cilët janë në vijim të drejtimeve shoqërore në shkollat publike të Kosovës  në regjionet si: Prishtina, Mitrovica, Prizreni, Gorazdevci brenda regjionit të Pejës, Gjakova, Drenasi, Malisheva dhe Rahoveci.

Numri i pjesëmarrësve është i kufizuar në çdo sesion trajnimi për shkak të kufizimeve me qëllim të parandalimit të përhapjes së COVID-19.  Do të zgjidhen maksimumi 25 pjesëmarrës për trajnim.

Si duhet aplikuar?

Ju lutem plotësojeni formularin e ofruar në vegzën si më poshtë:

 Afati i fundit për aplikim: 31 gusht 2021, ora 10:00 (sipas kohës lokale)

Poziv za prijave: Osnovna novinarska obuka za srednjoškolce

Kao deo projekta koji podržava EU „Učvršćivanje pozicija sadašnjih i budućih novinara na Kosovu“, BIRN Kosovo poziva učenike kosovskih javnih srednjih škola zainteresovanih za obuku iz medijske produkcije, medijske pismenosti i borbe protiv lažnih vesti. U junu 2021. su održane dve obuke iz istog programa sa ukupno 35 učenika srednjih škola iz Gnjilana i Uroševca.

Trenutno na Kosovu postoji perspektivna generacija srednjoškolaca koji imaju talenat, kreativne ideje i volju da se bave istraživačkim novinarstvom, ali medijima nedostaje posebna platforma koja bi ovim učenicima pružila priliku da iskažu svoje veštine pisanjem i izveštavanjem iz zajednice.

Kako bi iskoristio interesovanje za novinarstvo među mladima i u pokušaju da prevaziđe jaz u obrazovnom sistemu, BIRN Kosovo će organizovati dodatnih osam (8) treninga za srednjoškolce u programu koji ima za cilj negovanje mladih talenata kroz mentorisanje učenika u video produkciji, fotografiji i člancima kako bi se postigao glavni cilj aktivnosti, a to je otvaranje puta za veću nezavisnost, transparentnost, odgovornost i građanski angažman.

Treninzi će učenike upoznati sa novinarstvom, uključujući teme poput novinarskog jezika i koncepata, standarda izveštavanja, saveta za fotografiju, produkciju materijala za video sadržaje, video montažu, istraživačko novinarstvo, etiku i autorska prava.

Na kraju svakog treninga, mladi iz srednjih škola širom Kosova će predstaviti svoje novinarske ideje koje će BIRN-ova ekipa prikupiti i detaljno analizirati pre nego što odabere najmanje 60 ideja za video i članke koji će biti objavljeni na on-line platformi KallxoRinia. Proces produkcije svih ovih članaka će nadgledati tim urednika BIRN Kosovo.

Ko se može prijaviti?

Učenici koji pohađaju odeljenja za društvene nauke u kosovskim javnim srednjim školama u regionima kao što su: Priština, Mitrovica, Prizren, Goraždveac u pećkom regionu, Đakovica, Glogovac, Mališevo i Orahovac.

Broj učesnika na svakom treningu je ograničen zbog restrikcija kojima se sprečava širenje COVID-19. Biće izabrano najviše 25 učesnika po treningu.

Ko se može prijaviti?

Molimo popunite obrazac priložen na linku ispod:

Rok za prijavljivanje: 31. avgust 2021. godine u 10.00 (CET)