Call for Registration: Online Training on Gender-Sensitive Reporting

Belgrade-based NGO Atina, together with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, is organising an online training courses focusing on gender-sensitive reporting on human trafficking and violence against women.

Journalists and writers from the Balkans are invited to register for a two-day online training course on practicing gender-responsive reporting on human trafficking and violence against women.

The main idea behind the training is to examine and expose worrying and increasing trends in the incidence and prevalence of gender-based violence, both in the offline and online sphere in the Balkan region, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The training will be led by experienced activists from NGO ATINA, an organisation that has been running a direct support programme for trafficking and gender-based survivors in Serbia for 18 years now.

Designed to offer a deep insight into ways to avoid the most common mistakes in reporting on human trafficking and violence against women, the training will also offer participants a chance to practice methods of communication with survivors of violence. They should also encourage journalists and writers to apply the methods and lessons learned in their everyday work, raising the quality of their journalism.

The training will be held on March 2nd – 3rd, 2022.

Applicants must register for the training by filling out the form located below. The number of participants is limited, so please register no later than February 28th. Scroll down for registration.

The training will be held in English language, from 10am to 2pm. Each training day will consist of two 1.5-hour-long sessions that will encompass interactive exercises, facilitated discussions, with an evidence-based approach to group work in practicing gender-responsive reporting on human trafficking and violence against women. At the beginning and at the end of the training course, there will be a questionnaire, and participants will be invited to keep a journalistic diary.


Day I

10:00 – 10:30  Introduction of participants, topic and activities

10:30 – 12:00  Not victimhood reporting, but promotion of the agency of women

  • Proactive role of journalists in understanding the context of human trafficking and violence against women (meaning of the phenomenon, why it happens, who are the perpetrators and who are the victims, what are the main trends and statistics, involvement of journalists in the process of identification, referral, assistance and court proceedings)

12:00 – 12:30  Break

12:30 – 14:00  How to avoid the most common mistakes while reporting on human trafficking and violence against women

  • Deconstruction of stereotypes and prejudices

Day II

10:00 – 10:30  Warm-up and recapitulation of the previous day

10:30 – 12:00 Why wording matters

  • Communication with survivors and practicing preferred terminology for reporting

12:00 – 12:30  Break

12:30 – 14:00  Reporting on specific types of violence against women

  • Understanding of violence and abuse in the digital sphere

For more information, contact: Jelena Hrnjak (

Please register here and select a preferred slot. Upon registration, you will receive an email confirmation, and a Zoom link will be sent to all participants a few days before the training course.

The training is being organised with support from the Balkan Trust for Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade.

Open Call: Digital Rights Programme for Journalists 2022

Journalists from Southeast and Central Europe are invited to apply for the second edition of BIRN’s Digital Rights Programme for Journalists, which aims to explore threats to internet freedoms and the harms deriving from the digital ecosystem.

As part of our Reporting Democracy platform, BIRN’s “Digital Rights Programme for Journalists” enables media workers, writers and journalists to cover under-reported topics related to the growing digital rights challenges in the region.

BIRN is looking for journalists interested in digital transformation and its impact on democracy, in particularly on the following:

  • Freedom of expression
  • COVID-related tech regulations
  • Content removal
  • Machine-learning algorithms and algorithmic decision-making processes
  • Transparency of the processes of digital transformation in the region
  • Forces fuelling hate speech and discrimination in the digital environment and their implications
  • Gender or LGBTIQ online practices
  • Digital security and phishing campaigns
  • Privacy and personal data breaches
  • Biometric and Facial Recognition
  • Accountability of the major Internet platforms and online safety of users
  • Information security breaches
  • Blocking and filtering of content
  • Manipulation and propaganda in the digital environment
  • 5G technology in the region
  • Cryptocurrencies/blockchains in the world of financial crime
  • Social media bots and troll farms

We are offering a comprehensive six-month programme. This includes: regular networking opportunities; meetings with actors and experts dealing with digital transformation challenges and freedom of expression on the net; financial support; on-the-job mentoring and editorial sessions to produce high-quality journalism and educational sessions, focused on digital security for media. The programme aims to cover under-reported topics related to the health of the digital ecosystem and digital rights violations in Southeast and Central Europe.

If you are interested in big platforms, freedom of expression or the digital policy agenda, or you already have a story in mind but lack resources and guidance to do it, this programme is for you.

Grants worth up to 2,000 euros are available for professional freelance or staff journalists with ideas for investigative, analytical or feature pieces. We encourage cross-border reporting but also ask that journalists prioritize health and safety, adapt reporting plans to the realities of the ongoing health crisis and follow all prescribed security measures.

To apply for the programme, use the application form attached below to send us a proposal for a story.

The stories produced under the programme will be published on Balkan Insight and by prominent European, regional and international media outlets.

The call is open until February 25, 2022.

Who can apply?

The programme is open to all journalists who believe they have a good story on an under-reported topic concerning the health of the digital ecosystem in the Southeast and Central Europe region. We also welcome applications from staff reporters from local and national media who wish to co-publish the story with us.

Formal applicants can be:

  • individual journalists (working as part of newsroom structures or as freelancers);
  • teams (e.g reporter, producer, photographer, video editor) with a designated team leader as the contract signatory.

BIRN is committed to gender diversity and freedom from prejudice on any grounds.

Story requirements

  • The story must deal with at least one of the topics listed above
  • It must be relevant to Southeast and Central European countries
  • Stories that cover more than one country will be given an advantage
  • We are looking for in-depth, investigative stories
  • The story should be around 2,000 words long
  • Each selected story must be published within six months of receipt of the first installment of the bursary.

How to apply?

Send us your story proposal using the story grant form together with the signed declaration form.

Download the Story Grant Form

Download the Declaration

Evaluation and selection:

Step I: Technical evaluation will be done by BIRN staff to ensure the applicants have followed application procedures and submitted all the required documents.

Step II: Evaluation will be done by the editorial board to select applicants based on the evaluation criteria, including:

  1. Quality of the proposed idea;
  2. Feasibility of the proposed plan;
  3. Ability to reach the broad public.

Step III: Notification of applicants.

Please send your completed form together with a signed declaration and your CV to no later than February 25, 2022.

BIRN Presents Annual Digital Rights Report in Sarajevo

BIRN presented its latest annual report on the state of digital rights in eight countries from the SEE region as part of its BIRN Open House series of events in Sarajevo.

A presentation of the latest BIRN report on digital rights in Southeast Europe took place on December 16 in Sarajevo in the form of discussions among the regional digital rights actors who mulled the mapped trends and findings from different perspectives, focusing on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The discussions examined what effects propaganda, misinformation and violence on the internet have on the reality and daily lives of citizens and vulnerable groups. Speakers in both discussions were CSOs and media representatives from Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro.

The first discussion took a closer look at the report’s findings, where speakers from Bosnia elaborated the trends mapped in their country. Nevena Krivokapic from Share Foundation presented the situation in the digital environment in Serbia.

Participants discussed the denial of genocide and war crimes in the online space, while Ajna Jusic, president of the Forgotten Children of War association said that such behaviour on the internet brought further harm to victims, triggering their trauma.

She was saddened to see that most of the hateful content seen on the internet is produced and disseminated by young people. “We lack education on every level; young people are very strong when it comes to showing the keyboard, but very few of them are aware of the consequences of what they write on social networks,” Jusic said.

Nevena Krivokapić, from Share Foundation from Serbia, emphasized that that the internet has to remain a free and open space, but that accountability also has to exist. She did not see a solution in state interference and additional legal regulation of the internet. “We have laws that can be applied to the situation from the digital environment, but they are not implemented and big tech companies are still untouchable,” said Krivokapic.

Darko Brkan, from Why Not? association, spoke about the importance of the role of the media, given that the report shows that investigative journalists in Bosnia often remain the target of threats, and online portals have often appeared as attackers in many cases.

“Every crisis situation further radicalizes people, so it was in the case with the coronavirus pandemic; we must work on a collective social consciousness that implies which behaviours are unacceptable in the digital space,” Brkan concluded.

The second part of the discussion was dedicated to far-Right groups and individuals, and their influence and exploitation of the internet. Nermina Kuloglija explained how the far Right is creating a “them- and-us” narrative in the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to gain followers and spread hate in the digital space .

Nejra Veljan, from the Atlantic Initiative, said Right-wing narratives are not gender neutral and that the activities of the far Right usually deny basic reproductive freedoms, denying basic women’s rights.

Jelena Jovanović, from the media outlet Vijesti in Montenegro, warned that governments are doing very little to combat extremism and even encourage it if they can benefit from it.

Ana Petrović, from the Da se zna! assocation from Serbia, pointed out that members of the LGBT + community are often attacked by Right-wingers who “actually collect points” from this, treating their foes’ existence as a violation of traditional values ​​and as an attack on the family.

The discussions took place in the future Reporter’s House space that will from next year host BIRN’s museum, dedicated to media and journalists, war in former Yugoslavia and challenges to contemporary journalism.

The discussions concluded that the civil sector should continue to deal with the digital space without undermining the importance of internet freedom and principles of the open internet. Events in the digital space are no different from reality and only expose the reality we fail or don’t want to see, it was agreed; the frequency and influence of digital rights violations must not be neglected.

The full version of BIRN’s annual digital rights report “Online Intimidation: Controlling the Narrative in the Balkans” can be downloaded here.

Open call: Reporting on Gender-Based Violence in the Balkans

Journalists and writers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia are invited to apply for a specialised programme that aims to examine and expose different aspects of the trend of offline and online gender-based violence in the region.


BIRN has partnered with ATINA NGO to counter the growing trend of violence based on the victims’ gender by increasing the capacity of journalists to understand the complexity of gender-based violence and exploitation and empowering them to engage in covering gender-related issues. Through its programme, BIRN is looking for journalists and writers interested in revealing the scale of gender-based violence in the region.

We are offering a specialised, eight-month programme that includes: on-the-job mentoring and editorial sessions to produce high-quality journalism; educational sessions focused on gender-based violence; financial support and assistance.

We are particularly interested in stories that cover under-reported topics of violence against women in the region. The applications will be evaluated based on the following: relevance of the presented story, feasibility, originality of the piece, professional qualifications of the applicants, motivation expressed in the application and journalistic approach

Each selected candidate/team will receive a bursary of 1,000 euros to support their reporting. If the story covers more than one of the targeted countries, this will be seen as an advantage.

To apply for the programme, use the application form attached below to send us your story proposal.

This call is open until August 21, 2021.


Through its current ongoing monitoring process, BIRN has mapped numerous cases of digital rights violations directly linked to gender-based violence.

Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, women were exposed to increased violence both offline and online. Based on the evidence, BIRN reported that the rates of domestic abuse went up since states in the Balkans began imposing strict limitations on movement in the fight against COVID-19.

Gender-based violence is prohibited under numerous international conventions, as well as under national laws in many countries. But the legal framework is often hazy when it comes to online gender-based violence, even though the consequences can be equally as destructive. Online perpetrators frequently go unidentified.

While both women and men report exposure to such violence, the data indicate that women and girls are the most common victims of online violence. They suffer the most drastic forms of violence and are most affected by the consequences of this type of violence. The need for more thorough research on violence against women and girls is indicated by the fact that 9 million girls in Europe say they experienced some form of digital violence by the age of 15, that one in five teenagers in Europe report becoming victims of cyberbullying, that girls are at higher risk, and that in 2014, 87 per cent of reported photos of child sexual abuse were photographs of girls.

BIRN’s investigation from the previous year on attacks on female journalists in the Balkans has shown that they face online abuse on a daily basis and many have said they were left to suffer alone.

Who can apply?

The programme is open to all journalists and writers who believe they have a good story on an under-reported topic concerning gender-based violence in the Balkans. We also welcome applications from staff reporters from local and national media who wish to co-publish the story with us.

Story requirements

  • The story must deal with the gender-based violence (online and offline) in the targeted region (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia).
  • The story must be relevant to the Balkan region.
  • We are looking for in-depth, investigative stories that provide new information or have a unique angle on the issue.
  • The story should be around 1,500 words long.
  • Each selected story must be published within six months of receipt of the first installment of the bursary.

How to apply?

Send us your story proposal using the story grant form, downloadable here.

Download the Story Grant Form

Download the Declaration

Please send the completed form together with a signed declaration and your CV to  no later than August 21, 2021.

Platform B: Amplifying Strong and Credible SEE Voices

Event series by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and partners

Together with our partners, BIRN is launching a series of online and offline events aimed to amplify the voices of strong and credible individuals and organisations in the region that promote the core values of democracy, such as civic engagement, independent institutions, transparency and rule of law.

As a primarily media organisation, we want to open space and provide a platform to discuss and reshape our alliances in light of the challenges facing democracies in South-East and Central Europe.

This effort comes at a critical time when the region is seeing several troubling trends: centralized power, reduced transparency, assaults on media, politicized judiciaries, unchecked corruption, online violations and social polarization – all amidst heightened geopolitical tensions and deep divisions in Europe.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Platform B event series will be organised in accordance with all relevant health measures. As the situation improves, we hope to be able to host some of the events in BIRN spaces in Sarajevo and Belgrade, and elsewhere in the region.

The Platform B will be an opportunity for individuals and groups to meet monthly on selected topics.

Opening event: Digital Rights Falter Amid Political and Social Unrest: What Now?

Date: 1 July, 2021 (Thursday)

Time: 15.00, CET

At this event, BIRN and SHARE Foundation will discuss its annual digital rights report, together with other members of the newly established SEE Network, talking about the key trends concerning the digital ecosystem.

We monitored digital rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia and collected more than 1500 cases of online violations.

In Southern and Eastern Europe, where online disinformation campaigns are endangering guaranteed individual freedoms, and while the decline in internet safety has become a worrying trend, citizens with poor media and digital illiteracy have been left without viable protection mechanisms.

The event participants will have an opportunity to discuss and hear reflections from representatives of: EDRi, Zasto ne?, Citizen D, Homo Digitalis, SCiDEV, Partners Serbia, Metamorphosis, Atina NGO, Media Development Center.

More information and registration

Second event: Freedom of Information in the Balkans: Classified, Rejected, Delayed

Date: July 15, 2021 (Thursday)

Time: 14.00, CET

The global pandemic has been used as an excuse for many Balkan states to not fully implement freedom of information laws, leaving the public in the dark.

Transparency has been another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While on paper, freedom of information laws are up-to-date in almost all countries in the region, implementation is patchy at best and has grown worse since governments clamped down on the flow of information with the onset of the coronavirus.

Together with journalists, public information officers and colleagues from Open Government Partnership we will reflect on the findings of BIRN’s tracking institutional transparency report and offer recommendations on how to make our institutions open and accountable.

Registration form will be available here soon.

Events in August and in the fall will focus on investigative journalism and gender justice.