Platform B: Resilience of local media – what can we learn from the region and beyond?

Together with our partners, BIRN is continuing its series of online and offline events aimed at amplifying 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 primarily a 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, the 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.

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

Next event: Resilience of local media – what can we learn from the region and beyond?

Date: January 28, 2022 (Friday)

Time: 11am-1pm, CET

Local media in the region face a number of structural problems, which have got worse since the pandemic started. The aim of this online event is to discuss the perspectives of local journalism in the Western Balkans through a discussion of media professionals from the region and the EU. During the event, we will also present an interactive publication that will hopefully become an important resource for all local media in the region. 

The first part of the event aims at an exchange between media representatives and journalists from EU countries who face the same or similar problems in their work as media in the region. 

Panelists that will take part in the discussion include: 

Anna Petersen, editor at Landeszeitung Lüneburg, Germany

Márton Kárpáti, CEO of Telex.hu, Hungary

Brigitte Alfter, director of Arena for Journalism in Europe

The panel will be moderated by Besar Likmeta, BIRN’s editor in Albania. 

The second part of the event will be dedicated to tackling specific issues related to the local media in the region. By creating room for discussion on three specific topics, we will try to reach conclusions and come up with possible solutions to some of the problems that local media face. This discussion will be moderated by Amer Bahtijar, president of Tačno.net from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Darija Ranković, editor of Kolubarske from Serbia and Ivana Petrović, editor of City Smart Radio from Serbia.

More information can be found in the agenda.

You can register for the event HERE.  

This event is organized in cooperation with partner organization n-ost within the project “Local journalism – European perspectives”. 

 

Women in Balkan Newsrooms: We’re Not a Monolithic Group

BIRN Platform B debate on Friday heard that, in a context of very diverse experiences, taking a “one-size-fits-all approach” towards fixing the issues women journalists face in the region is not practical.

At one of the series of Platform B events, on Friday, BIRN presented the main findings of its report on the position of female journalists in the Balkans, “Women in Newsrooms: Perspectives on Equity, Diversity and Resilience”, which concluded, among other things, that, a “one-size-fits-all approach” to fixing issues women journalists face is not practical, as these women are not a “monolithic” group.

The report includes 21 interviews and a survey filled in by 175 participants, whose responses highlighted trends, opportunities and obstacles, identified through the sharing of experiences and perspectives by women working in the media, to paint a more nuanced and complex picture of women’s role in newsrooms, news-making and the region’s societies more broadly.

“When it comes to women journalists, prevailing narratives have focused on almost exclusively online violence and women’s vulnerability, rather than on the systems that make this type of abuse prevalent, normalized and even profitable,” the report notes, adding that, “when women who are proven to create space for narratives that fall outside of mainstream dialogue are marginalized, the negative implications for society are compounded”.

The report’s six sections depict women as : a monolith; a liability; a workforce; a community; as accessories; and as guerrillas, as “an attempt to paint a picture that is more nuanced – to address the intersecting identities and diverse experiences that actually characterize women’s media – and newsroom more specifically – participation and representation in the Western Balkans”.

In BIRN’s debate on Friday, the co-authors of the report, Bojana Kostic and Jennifer Adams, emphasized the need for “solidarity zones  – spaces created by and for women for support, innovation and connection”, where women can support each other “online and minimize their exposure to social media” which, as the report reads, has “since its inception, failed to provide a safe space for women and marginalized populations”.

One of the panelists, Elida Zylbeari, ethnic Albanian editor-in-chief of the North Macedonian-based Portalb.mk, said that being a journalist can be difficult both as a woman and as part of a minority ethnic group in North Macedonia.

“There’s a (first) language barrier and privilege; the community thinks Macedonians are more important than Albanians, so, when it comes to government briefings, for example, you see even fewer Albanian female journalists,” Zylbeari said, adding that “other minorities (Turks, Bosnians, etc) are practically non-existent – left out, taken less seriously, and undermined”.

Elida Zylbeari at the BIRN Platform B debate on Friday, January 14, 2021. Photo: Zoom/Screenshot

Women journalists in the Western Balkans “are not taken seriously”, as Zylbeari points out. Katarina Radović, a journalist for a regional broadcaster from Novi Pazar in Serbia, agrees. Certain professions such as teaching are perceived as more suitable for women than “being a journalist”, she said.

Adams said international organisations that work in media and women empowerment should work more “to reflect change” and make sure increasing women’s safety in the newsrooms is not translated into a narrative about women being weaker.

“We [international organisations] wanted to push for women’s safety in the newsroom, but the lack of response had the opposite effect. Many women in international media were sent to smaller events because they are considered weaker,” Adams lamented, explaining that, “despite the online violence that is more towards women than men, the reality of women … is not one of weakness”.

Kostic called for more focus on “solidarity zones”, for women to “continue being outspoken”, and for stakeholders to “continue empowering women journalists” by learning lessons from existing women movements.

Internship Vacancy for Young Journalists and Students of Journalism at BIRN

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) is launching a call for 2 interns from Kosovo who are interested in pursuing a career in journalism.

Application Criteria:

To apply for this internship position, the candidate must:

  • Be enthusiastic and willing to pursue a career in journalism
  • Have applied or be enrolled as a student of journalism, law, social studies or other fields related to journalism
  • Be a proficient writer in their native language
  • Possess good knowledge of a foreign language (English preferred)
  • Having a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism or other related fields is an asset

Duties and responsibilities:

The successful candidates will be responsible for:

  • Fulfilling journalistic duties and obligations
  • Conducting research and preparing materials for publication
  • Attending ongoing training courses held by BIRN

Duration

Selected candidates will be engaged in their paid internship for a period of 3 months in the offices of BIRN.

How to apply?

To apply you must send a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a letter of motivation via email to rekrutimi@jetanekosove.com, including your name, surname and position to which you are applying by February 1, 2022, 23:59. You are encouraged to send other documents to support your experience.

BIRN offers equal engagement opportunities to all interested individuals, and encourages applications from all, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or political views.

“This Confidence Building Project is funded by UNMIK”

 

Konkurs për punë praktike për gazetarë të rinj dhe studentë të gazetarisë në BIRN

Rrjeti Ballkanik për Gazetari Hulumtuese (BIRN) shpallë thirrjen për angazhimin e 2 praktikantëve nga Kosova të cilët janë të interesuar të ndjekin një karrierë në gazetari.

Kriteret për Aplikim:

Për të aplikuar dhe për të përmbushur pozitën, kandidati/ja duhet:

  • Të jetë entuziast dhe të ketë vullnet për të nisur profesionin në gazetari
  • Të ketë aplikuar apo të jetë student i regjistruar në degët e gazetarisë, juridikut, shkencat shoqërore apo fushave të ngjashme që ndërlidhen me gazetari
  • Të ketë njohuri të mira të të shkruarit në gjuhën amtare
  • Të ketë njohuri të mira në një gjuhë të huaj (preferohet gjuha angleze)
  • Posedimi i diplomës së studimeve Bachelor në gazetari apo fushave të ngjashme është përparësi

Detyrat dhe përgjegjësitë:

Kandidatët e suksesshëm do të jenë përgjegjës për:

  • Përmbushjen e detyrave dhe obligimeve gazetareske
  • Përgatitjen dhe hulumtimin e materialeve për publikim
  • Ndjekjen e trajnimeve të vazhdueshme nga BIRN

Koha e angazhimit

Kandidatët e përzgjedhur do të angazhohen në praktikën me pagesë për një periudhë 3 mujore në zyrat e BIRN.

How to apply?

Për të aplikuar duhet të dërgoni një Curriculum Vitae (CV) dhe një letër motivimi përmes postës elektronike në adresën rekrutimi@jetanekosove.com , duke shkruar emrin, mbiemrin dhe pozitën për të cilën aplikoni, më së largu deri më 1 shkurt 2022, ora 23:59. Inkurajoheni që të dërgoni dokumente të tjera që dëshmojnë përvojën.

BIRN inkurajon aplikuesit nga të gjitha gjinitë, si dhe ofron mundësi të barabartë angazhimi për të gjithë personat e interesuar pa kurrfarë paragjykimi mbi baza gjinore, fetare, etnike ose politike, apo ndonjë bazë tjetër.

“Projekti ‘Confidence Building’ financohet nga UNMIK”

 

Konkurs za pripravnički program za mlade novinare i studente novinarstva u BIRN-u

Balkanska mreža za istraživačko novinarstvo (BIRN) je raspisala konkurs za angažovanje 2 pripravnika sa Kosova koji žele da stvore karijeru u novinarstvu.

Uslovi za prijavu:

Za prijavu na navedenu poziciju, kandidat/kinja treba:

  • Biti entuzijastičan/na i želeti da stvori karijeru u novinarstvu
  • Da je aplicirao/la ili da je već upisan student na fakultetu za novinarstvo, pravo, društvene nauke ili na sličnom fakultetu koji je vezan za novinarstvo
  • Odlične veštine pisanja na maternjem jeziku
  • Dobro znanje stranog jezika (poželjno znanje engleskog jezika)
  • Posedovanje Bachelor diplome iz novinarstva ili sličnih oblasti je prednost.

Dužnosti i odgovornosti:

Uspešan kandidat će biti odgovoran za sledeće:

  • Ispunjavanje novinarskih dužnosti i odgovornosti
  • Priprema i istraživanje materijala za objavljivanje
  • Praćenje kontinuiranih obuka BIRN-a

Vreme angažmana

Odabrani kandidati će biti angažovani na period od 3 meseca, sa naknadom, u kancelariji BIRN-a.

Kako se možete prijaviti?

Za prijavu pošaljite Vaš Curriculum Vitae (CV) i motivaciono pismo putem elektronske pošte na adresu rekrutimi@jetanekosove.com, na kojem ćete navesti Vaše ime, prezime i poziciju za koju se prijavljujete, najdalje do 1 februara 2022. godine, do 23:59h. Prilaganje dokumentacije kojom se potvrđuje prethodno iskustvo je veoma dobrodošlo.

BIRN podstiče aplikante svih polova da se prijave, a takođe pruža jednaku mogućnost angažovanja za sva zainteresovana lica bez ikakvih predrasuda na polnoj, verskoj, etničkoj, političkoj ili bilo kojoj drugoj osnovi.

“Projekat ‘Confidence Building’ finansira UNMIK”

 

 

Platform B – Women in Newsrooms: Perspectives on Equity, Diversity and Resilience

Event series by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and partners

Together with our partners, BIRN is launching a series of online and offline events aimed at amplifying 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 the 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 Southeastern and Central Europe.

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

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Platform B event series will be organised with respect for 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.

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

Next event: Women in Newsrooms: Perspectives on Equity, Diversity and Resilience

Date: January 14, 2022 (Friday)

Time: 3pm-4.30pm CET

At this event, BIRN will present the main findings of its report on the position of female journalists in the Balkans, Women in Newsrooms: Perspectives on Equity, Diversity and Resilience.

The report highlights trends, opportunities and obstacles, identified through the sharing of experiences and perspectives by women working in the media, to paint a more nuanced and complex picture of women’s role in newsrooms, news-making and regional societies more broadly. When it comes to women journalists, prevailing narratives have focused almost exclusively on online violence and women’s vulnerability, rather than on the systems that make this type of abuse prevalent, normalized and even profitable.

This report, and accompanying platform, is an attempt to paint a picture that is more nuanced – to address the intersecting identities and diverse experiences that actually characterize women’s media – and newsrooms more specifically – and their participation and representation in the  Balkans.

The report includes in-depth interviews with more than 20 female journalists, editors, fact-checkers, editor-in-chiefs and activists as well as a broad data collection, comprising a total of 175 responses BIRN obtained through an online survey conducted in October and November 2021.

Together with the authors and regional journalists and gender equality experts, we will reflect on the findings of BIRN’s report and offer some recommendations to regional media outlets, journalists’ unions and institutions on how to advance women’s positions in the newsrooms and stop perceiving them as victims but as agents of change.

A complete list of panelists is to be published soon.

Upon registration you will receive a Zoom link.

Meet the People Behind BIRN: Ivana Jeremic

Each month, BIRN introduces you to members of its team. For December, meet, Ivana Jeremic, BIRN Editor.

“I love the feeling of working for a cross-border network, being able to collaborate with journalists, not only in the Balkans but across Europe,” says Jeremic, 32, an investigative journalist, fact-checker and one of BIRN’s Editors. Her career in BIRN started in 2019. One year before, she was a fellow of the BIRN Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.

“I love the international perspective BIRN stories have and how they impact the way I think of the topics now. I am more involved with the long-form stories that are more challenging but, in my opinion, more fun as well,” states Jeremic, who took part in the new cross-border project “China in the Balkans”’ that BIRN launched last December.

In it, BIRN identified 135 Chinese-linked projects in the Balkans worth more than 32 billion euros. They are described as investments but few have come without controversy. BIRN collaborated with journalists from all over Balkans to create an interactive map of them, where readers can browse the various types of cooperation Beijing has reached with countries in the region.

“The goal of this map, or database, is to dispel some of the myths that accompany Chinese investments. Although the projects are presented as investments, they are mostly projects financed through additional government borrowing,” Jeremic explains.

“The projects are insufficiently transparent, and their expediency is questionable. BIRN will continue to monitor projects and regularly update the database, and other journalists and the public will have the opportunity to follow all projects related to the Chinese presence in one place. The idea is to use the map just as a starting point for other investigative stories,” she adds.

BIRN: The Pandora Papers would not have been the same without cross-border journalism. Do you think that it’s the same with “China in the Balkan” Did the impact of “China in the Balkans” exceed what an individual journalist could achieve with his/her own work?

Jeremic: Absolutely. China uses the same strategy in the whole region, and the lack of the rule of law allows these companies to work in an untransparent way, harming the environment and violating basic human rights. In terms of wider coverage, the cross-border angle definitely helps attract the attention of EU decision-makers and the public. What’s happening in Bosnia or in Montenegro, for example, is not only important for the local population, because these projects have consequences that go beyond the borders of these states. Besides, working on stories with a team of people from different countries and with different skills makes the story better.

BIRN: Journalists are often described as lone wolves, but in recent years they started to collaborate. “China in the Balkans” was a cross-border investigation project. How difficult or easy was it to work in a cross-border team?

Jeremic: It can be challenging in terms of organisation and interference with daily tasks, but at the same time, it’s rewarding. BIRN is a network and we are used to working in big teams with people we sometimes haven’t even met in person. “China in the Balkans” mapped more than 130 projects. It wouldn’t be possible to do that without journalists on the ground in each of the countries. It helped that we had project coordinators to keep track of everything and make sure everyone was on the same page.

BIRN: What is BIRN’s next cross-border project?

Jeremic: “I’m not sure what I am allowed to mention, but most of our projects are cross-border.”

 

 

Online Violence Against Women Must Not Be Tolerated, Debate Told

Women who work in the public arena in the Western Balkans are regularly targeted by online threats, insults and false accusations, and existing laws must be enforced to protect them, said panelists at a BIRN debate.

Panelists at a BIRN debate entitled ‘Female Empowerment – Online Practices and Challenges’ in Sarajevo on Monday said that online insults, threats and false accusations are commonly-used weapons to discredit and discourage women who work in the public arena.

Iva Paradjanin, a Serbian journalist whose work mostly focuses on women’s rights and who runs a podcast called Tampon Zona, said that even though online violence against women has become more visible, it is still not taken seriously enough.

“We are working to empower women, to raise awareness that violence is not only physical,” Paradjanin said.

She said that online attacks have a real impact on women’s lives, and those who write offensive comments should not be allowed to remain under the illusion that they are free from any kind of responsibility.

Bosnian journalist Dalija Hasanbegovic Konakovic said that women are often attacked because they are seen as a “weaker target”.

“You should not be silent. You will feel better once you start speaking out. In that way, at least you will know that you are fighting back and that you will not be perceived as weak,” Hasanbegovic Konakovic said.

“What scares me the most is that we are losing the thread of humanity,” said Lana Prlic, a member of parliament in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Federation entity, who came under attack online after posting on social media about her COVID-19 vaccination in September 2020.

“We are mothers, sisters, daughters and so on. Those people who are sending us insults, they are forgetting about these identities,” Prlic said.

In the second part of the debate, moderator Zlatan Music from the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and panelists Samra Filipovic-Hadziabdic, director of the Agency for Gender Equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Maja Raicevic, director of the Centre for Women’s Rights, and Adnan Kadribasic, a lawyer and expert on human rights and gender equality, said that the main problem is the lack of response, support and goodwill from the authorities, particularly the police and prosecution.

They urged the authorities in the Western Balkans region to start implementing existing laws and sanctioning perpetrators.

“We have a good legal framework that we can use to sanction these acts. There are various possibilities, we just need to know how to use them, and to want to use them. Improving the institutional response is crucial,” said Kadribasic.

The panelists argued that speaking out about violence empowers other women who have had the same experience and gives them courage to speak out too.

“If you stand by one woman who speaks out, you are showing that she is not alone. By our example, we show whether we are united or not. We must stop normalising violence,” said Hasanbegovic Konakovic.

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.

BIRN Presents Online Platform on China’s Activities in Western Balkans

BIRN’s new interactive map pinpoints China’s growing business presence in the region – which experts say media and civil society need to focus on more.

Experts and journalists have warned that Chinese loans and investments in the Balkans lack a desirable level of transparency and say more of a focus is needed on such activities.

BIRN’s new platform “China in the Balkans”, aims to shed light on China’s increased activities in the six Western Balkans countries.

In the last decade, the region has seen China’s influence grow fast, mostly through its Belt and Road Initiative, BRI.

As a relatively new player in the region, China’s investments have raised some concerns related not only to their environmental impact but to political influence, corruption and growing debt.

While these investments are growing in size and number, access to contracts and other relevant data is often difficult or impossible to find.

The interactive map pinpoints various projects undertaken by China in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Greece.

Editor Ivan Angelovski, who in recent months managed the investigation of China investments in the Balkans, said around 130 China business activities worth around 30 billion euros have been disclosed and presented in the interactive map.

“We are looking at anything related to the state, and digging into that was the real task. Governments are sending mixed messages; they are not clear what is a loan and what is direct investment,” Angelovski pointed out.

BIRN editor Ivana Jeremic said that 61 cases of China projects detected in Serbia make up almost half of all the cases presented in BIRN’s new database.

“For these cases that we were able to detect, the estimated value of projects is almost 19 billion euros …  which explains the scope of influence China has in Serbia and importance of loans and investments,” Jeremic said.

“Some projects got stuck because of legal issues or environmentalists stopping some projects progressing because of environmental issues or land expropriation,” she added.

China’s activity in the region gathered speed in 2009. In that year the financial crisis that hit the world a year earlier was storming through the Balkans, and the region was scraping the bottom of the barrel to make ends meet. 

Greece opened its door through the Port of Piraeus, while Serbia declared China the “fourth pillar” of its foreign policy.

Balkan countries needed money fast, and China needed a friendly corridor from the Mediterranean to Western Europe. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. But it has come at a price. 

By BIRN’s own count, the region hosts over 130 projects worth at least 32 billion euros linked in one way or another to China.

The “China in the Balkans” map is a result of BIRN’s research into the various types of cooperation between Beijing and countries in the region.

It shows China is concentrating on taking over metallurgy, mining, energy, and transport in the region, with most of these projects accompanied by allegations of corruption, exploitation and environmental harm.

Plamen Tonchev, head of Asia Unit at the Athens-based Institute of International Economic Relations, said Chinese business activities in the Balkans should be seen as part of a bigger picture.

“The scale is overwhelming. The fact that Western Balkans are small by any standards, the fragmentation of the region, doesn’t help. China is a giant in terms of economic capacity and everybody is dazzled by the Chinese presence,” Tonchev said.

Ana Krstinovska, program manager at the Centre for Research and Policy Making in Skopje, said China’s activities in the region need to be more of a focus for media and civil society.

“We need to develop a more nuanced and in-depth understanding of China’s activities throughout the world in order to see what China is doing here, how we can maximise our interest,” she said, “because China is here to stay and in addition to being a threat to democratic values, it is an economic opportunity that we should not be missing out on.”

 

 

‘Last Despatches’ Exhibition Commemorates Balkan War Reporters

BIRN opened an exhibition in Sarajevo and published a new book commemorating the journalists and media workers who were killed during and just after the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia.

“Now, 30 years after the beginning of the wars, [some people in] our societies continue to deny many things that journalists documented – denying war crimes, denying genocide,” Ristic said.

The exhibition and book are based on BIRN’s long-running online series, Last Despatches, which documents some of the 155 people who died during the conflicts and shortly afterwards.

BIRN editor Matthew Collin, who edited the Last Despatches book with Ristic, said that the project was an act of commemoration because there have been so few prosecutions for the deaths of journalists during the 1990s wars.

“Our message is that in this atmosphere of impunity, a free media is more important than ever, not only in wartime, but also in peacetime,” Collin said.

Jan Waltmans, the Netherlands’ ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that it was necessary to come to terms with the crimes of the past for the sake of future generations.

“I hope that journalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina will continue to progress so that hate speech, genocide denial and other problems will disappear,” Waltmans said.

The Last Despatches book is available to buy here.

The Last Despatches exhibition is open at Ferhadija 10, Sarajevo every day from 12 noon to 8pm until December 19. The exhibition is part of BIRN’s week-long Open House programme, which includes events focusing on issues such media freedom, digital rights, investigative journalism and female empowerment online.

The opening of the exhibition in Sarajevo. Photo: Zlatan Menkovic/BIRN.
Photo: Zlatan Menkovic/BIRN.
Photo: Zlatan Menkovic/BIRN.
BIRN’s regional director Marija Ristic. Photo: Zlatan Menkovic/BIRN.
Copies of the Last Despatches book. Photo: Zlatan Menkovic/BIRN.
Photo: Zlatan Menkovic/BIRN.
Jan Waltmans, the Netherlands’ ambassador to Sarajevo. Photo: Zlatan Menkovic/BIRN.
BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina’s director Denis Dzidic. Photo: Zlatan Menkovic/BIRN.
Photo: Zlatan Menkovic/BIRN.

BIRN Hosts Series of Events in Sarajevo

BIRN Open House is a series of events in Sarajevo hosted by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, focusing on issues such as media freedom, justice, accountability, memory and digital rights.

The events will take place in the venue that next year will become the Reporters’ House – a space that will host BIRN’s museum dedicated to media and journalists, the war in the former Yugoslavia, and challenges to contemporary journalism.

Even though the venue is being renovated, we want to open it to the public temporarily, in the hope that BIRN Open House will become an annual series of events at our new museum from next year.

As we work across Southern and Eastern Europe, and due to the global pandemic, we cannot bring all of our participants to Sarajevo, so a limited number of the week’s events will be held online.

First day: Tuesday 14 December

18:00 Offline: Opening programme – Last Despatches: exhibition and launch of a new book published by BIRN that profiles some of the journalists killed during the wars in Yugoslavia. The exhibition is a follow-up to our multimedia project last-despatches.balkaninsight.com, which inspired us to create the Reporters’ House.

The exhibition will be otherwise open to the public without RSVP from December 14 to December 19, from 12:00 to 20:00 at Ferhadija Street 10.

Second day: Wednesday 15 December

15:00 Online: Platform B discussion: Chinese Investments in the Balkans: Transparency Locked. Presentation of our database that mapped the Chinese investments in the region, including more than 100 projects in infrastructure, technology and culture. Read more.

18:00 Offline: Presentation of the EU Award for Investigative Journalism followed by a panel discussion “Investigative journalism and challenges of COVID-19 pandemic”.

Third day: Thursday 16 December

11:00 – 11:45 Offline: BIRN Annual Regional Digital Rights Report: Misinformation, Denial and Threats.

12:00 – 12:45 Offline: Discussion: The Far Right, Violence and Misinformation.

Fourth day: Friday 17 December

10:00 – 13:30 Offline: Meeting: Online Content Removal and Blocking.

18:00 – 21:00 Offline: Screening of the documentary ‘Journalism is Not a Crime’.

Fifth day: Saturday 18 December

18:00 Offline: Book launch and discussion: Poems, stories and dealing with the past.

Sixth day: Sunday 19 December

18:00 Offline: Discussion: Remembering Srebrenica through journalism, oral history and activism.

Seventh day: Monday 20 December

11:00 Offline: Panel discussion and brunch: Female Empowerment Online: Practices and Challenges.

Eight day: Wednesday 22 December

15:00 – 17:00 Online: Presentation of a report on conflict prevention in collaboration with Impunity Watch.