BIRN’s Sasa Dragojlo Wins ‘Dusan Bogavac’ Award for Ethics and Courage

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Sasa Dragojlo, a BIRN journalist, won this year’s “Dusan Bogavac” Journalism Award for Ethics and Courage, which has been awarded by the Dusan Bogavac Foundation and the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia, IJAS, since 1991.

Photo: Sasa Dragojlo

The announcement on the award said: “Sasa Dragojlo has been courageously and professionally investigating and informing the public about important topics of general interest for years, such as the corrupt business of selling ammunition production machines, the war of smugglers in the north of Vojvodina, money laundering through the construction of residential and commercial buildings throughout Serbia, and the recent armed conflict in Banjska.”

“I am really happy with the ‘Dusan Bogavac’ award I got since I was nominated by a jury made up of really respectable colleagues. It was a shock, since I was unaware it was happening; I learned about it half an hour before it got published. When I see all the people who got it before me, it is really an honour and a privilege.

“Working hard in a stressful job like journalism, every now and then I feel depressed, asking whether it is worth living a poor life with many pressures without much real effect in changing the deeply corrupted societies we live in. Awards like this are at least a glimpse of hope that someone cares and that our work matters,” Dragojlo said.

The jury members were previous award winners Dragana Peco and Snezana Congradin, as well as Branka Bogavac and Filip Mladenovic on behalf of the Dusan Bogavac Foundation, and Zeljko Bodrozic, president of the IJAS.

Recently, Dragojlo won third prize as part of a team of BIRN and the Centre for investigative journalism of Serbia, CINS, for an investigation into Serbian arms exports to Myanmar following the army coup in that country. He also won third prize in the EU investigative awards for a story on a Serbian police translator who led a people-smuggling gang.

As Dragojlo stated: “When I got my degree at the Faculty of Political Science, the future in journalism was not so clear. I wrote columns, essays and free-form prose in multiple online media but could not live off it, so I worked multiple ‘real jobs’ – from call centres to warehouses. I thought I would never find a media that wanted me, had enough money, or where I wanted to work (I would not want to work in 90 per cent of the media; a construction job looked more attractive). But in April 2015, I got a chance to work for BIRN, and since then, I have never quit this nutjob profession.”

The “Dusan Bogavac” Award ceremony will be held on Thursday, October 26, in Belgrade.