Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence – Winners Chosen

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Polish journalist Tadeusz Michrowski was awarded the first prize in the Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence at a ceremony held in Vienna on May 22.

Photo: Joanna Pianka

Michrowski won the 3,000-euro award for his story about the decline of coastal fisheries in the Baltic – focusing specifically on the Polish coast. There are several theories about why the fisheries are in decline, but no single compelling explanation. Tadeusz’s story captures all these conflicting truths and mysteries, holding the reader’s attention with colour and literary style.

Announcing the award, Fellowship jury member and deputy chairman of the European Stability Initiative, Kristof Bender, praised “the captivating portrait of coastal fishermen, their decline, and all the reasons behind it, bringing to life distinct characters with their interests and hopes.”

North Macedonian journalist David Ilieski was awarded the second prize for his story about how the gambling industry has taken over the country. The award was given by Elena Panagiotidis, the jury member and editor for the Swiss daily, Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Panagiotidis praised the story for not only presenting well-researched data on the growth of gambling, but also for “showing how ordinary citizens who have taken up the fight against the industry are being failed by the state”.

The award for the third place went to Andrei Popoviciu, a Romanian journalist who produced a story about how a tech boom in the city of Cluj-Napoca has led to a surge in real-estate prices that is squeezing out everyone who does not work in tech.

Florian Hassel, Central and Eastern Europe correspondent for the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, presented the third award. “It is an eye-opening story about a reality you haven’t heard about,” he said. “There is a stark conflict embedded within it, with no clear hero or a villain.”

The ceremony celebrated the successful completion of the 2022 edition of the programme.

Alongside Florian Hassel, Elena Panagiotidis and Kristof Bender, the jury was comprised of Milorad Ivanovic, representative of the FJE alumni network; BIRN editor Gyula Csak, Remzi Lani, the Director of the Albanian Media Institute, and Adelheid Wolfl, correspondent for Austrian daily, Der Standard.

With the conclusion of this year’s programme, the eight fellows join the FJE alumni network, which consists of more than 150 journalists from 14 CEE countries, who promote the highest professional standards.

The Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence was launched in 2007 to promote high-quality, cross-border reporting. The programme provides fellows with financial and editorial support, allowing them to travel, report and write their stories and develop their journalistic skills. In 2020, the Fellowship programme expanded to include journalists from the V4 group of countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

The Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence is implemented by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and supported by ERSTE Foundation.