BIRN Holds Data Journalism and OSINT Training in Montenegro

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The Balkan Investigative Regional Reporting Network, BIRN Hub and partners from Germany, Georgia and Uzbekistan organised a three-day training course to boost the reporting skills of group of international journalists in Montenegro.

Photo: BIRN

A total of 20 journalists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan spent a weekend in the Montenegrin coastal town of Budva from September 7-11, honing their data journalism and open-source intelligence (OSINT) skills.

During the training course, which the participants worked with trainer Carolyn Thompson, a freelance journalist and editor who is an expert in data journalism and OSINT.

Thompson covered the core concepts of data journalism – what it is; how does coding contribute; how to think about data and where to find it.

She also talked about advanced techniques – pivot tables, practicing visualisations – and dedicated a full session to giving journalists the opportunity to try out these methods on their stories, with her mentorship and guidance.

Thompson also covered basic OSINT concepts and advanced techniques, also dedicating a full session to letting participants practice the skills they learned on the stories they are working on as part of the project.

In a separate session with regional editors, the participants discussed the progress of their cross-border and cross-regional projects, and were asked about the challenges and obstacles they came across while working on their joint projects.

Apart from the sessions, participants spent the afternoon at the luxury Porto Montenegro complex in the town of Tivat with Sinisa Lukovic, a prominent Montenegrin journalist.

Lukovic walked them through the complex and explained the origins of the investment and its positive and negative effects on Tivat and Montenegro in general.

The workshop is part of the project ‘Spheres of Influence Uncovered’, which is jointly being implemented by BIRN, German NGO n-ost, Uzbek media outlet Anhor and Georgia’s JAMNews.

‘Spheres of Influence Uncovered’ aims to contribute to a better understanding of the roles that three key international players – the EU, Russia and China – have on the seven project countries’ economies.

During the project, the participating journalists will map the economic activities of these three players and identify the main challenges and consequences for their countries. This project is partly a follow-up to BIRN’s previous work in the sphere of foreign economic activities, explored in its interactive map of China’s activities in the Balkans.

So far, the Balkan participants have produced three country-based stories – about the effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Macedonian agriculture, about the Macedonian automobile industry being boosted by investments, and about Serbian companies and individuals blacklisted by the US continuing to win public tenders. More will be published by the end of the year.