Fellowship 2024: Voices – Call for Applications Open

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We are awarding 10 fellowships to journalists from Central and South-Eastern Europe who have an idea for a story that needs dedicated on-the-ground reporting, in-depth research, generous funding and sustained editorial attention to do it justice.

Photo: BIRN

Applications are solicited under this year’s theme, Voices. Successful applicants will be selected by an independent committee to take part in our annual programme for professional development, culminating in the production of a compelling long-form story to be published by BIRN, its media partners and/or the media outlets from the region.

Our output takes the form of features, analysis and investigations, presented in depth for a global audience. We emphasise strong storytelling and rigorous, on-the-ground reporting – qualities traditionally associated with the best magazine journalism.

The Fellowship provides:

  • a bursary of €3,000
  • the chance to improve your reporting skills by working in close collaboration with world-class editors
  • ongoing mentoring and support from BIRN’s leading regional journalistic network, present in 14 countries of the Central and SEE region
  • the opportunity to participate in an introductory seminar in Vienna, May 20th – 24th, focused on reporting and storytelling techniques,
  • the chance to win additional awards worth between 1.000 and 3.000 euros for the best three stories
  • worldwide publication of reports in local languages and English through our network of media partners
  • membership of the Fellowship alumni network, designed to support networking between fellows who have participated in the programme since 2007
  • This year’s call is open until March 25th. Please send us your proposal using the official application form.
  • To maximize your chances of a successful application read more about the programme including the tips from our editors.

Here is what our editor, Neil Arun, has to say about this year’s topic.

Before journalism, the printing press and the first clay tablets where our ancestors practised their writing, there was the spoken word. Every year, the Fellowship asks applicants to consider a theme. This year’s theme, Voices, goes back to the oldest form of communication.

It also appeals to the instinct that, we believe, drives the best long-form journalism: the desire to get away from the desk and hit the road in search of those sources, those voices, that can add something meaningful to a bigger conversation.

On social media today, it can seem as if everyone has a voice. However, not all voices are heard, or worth hearing. What are the voices in your society that have been drowned out by the noise? What do we miss when we don’t listen? Whose are the voices worth seeking out at this moment? How does power speak, and what does it leave unsaid? And how will your Fellowship story send out a signal that can cut through the noise?

Our themes are always broad, because we want to attract the broadest range of applications. If you haven’t got a pitch in mind for the Fellowship, we hope the theme will inspire you. If you already have a story that you would like to report, please take a few minutes to tease out a link with the theme in your application. Don’t worry if the link seems a bit of a stretch – we are looking to gauge your ability to argue, rather than your fidelity to the theme. And we will always prioritise a good pitch that is only loosely linked to the theme over a weak pitch that fits the theme perfectly. Good luck.

About the Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence

The Fellowship has been providing journalists with editorial guidance and funding to pursue agenda-setting stories since 2007. Aimed at promoting the development of a robust and responsible press, the programme has helped shape journalistic standards across the region while boosting the careers of participating reporters.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and Erste Foundation set up the Fellowship with a view to encouraging in-depth cross-border reporting in south-eastern Europe. In 2020, the programme was expanded to include four central European countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

To read our stories and find out more about the Fellowship please visit the Fellowship official page.