Meet the People Behind BIRN: Vuk Maras

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Each month, BIRN introduces you to a different member of its team. For April, meet Vuk Maras, BIRN Montenegro Executive Director.

Photo: Media for All

Vuk Maras, 37, is Executive Director of BIRN network’s new member, BIRN Montenegro, set up in 2023.

Vuk is based in Podgorica; he studied economics and has worked in the non-profit sector since he was 18 years old, “constantly fighting against corruption and organised crime and advocating for the better rule of law and human rights”, as he told BIRN.

For over three years, he worked as a consultant for BIRN Hub on various projects. He sees his job in BIRN Montenegro more as a duty than as work. In the upcoming months, BIRN Montenegro will produce programmes and investigative stories to inform Montenegrin citizens and other stakeholders, and hold the government and public officials accountable.

Let’s meet him!

  1. BIRN Montenegro is the newest BIRN Network member, set up in 2023. Would you like to tell us more about it?

Montenegro is the only Western Balkan country where BIRN did not have a local office, so this was a logical step for the network. In a situation where the quality of journalism is constantly in decline, where investigative journalism is an exception rather than a common practice, it was necessary to bring something new to the citizens of Montenegro. Moreover, with recent changes to the regime that was ruling Montenegro for over three decades, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that the old corrupt practices do not continue and that Montenegro is able to build institutions that will secure its Euro-Atlantic integration, but also bring a better appreciation of human rights to all its citizens. BIRN Montenegro will investigate cases and bring high-quality news to the public discourse in order to inform Montenegrin citizens and other stakeholders, and to hold the government and public officials accountable.

  1. What drove you to work for BIRN Montenegro, specifically for a media non-profit? What do you like most in your new job, and what is the most challenging thing?

Short answer – lack of justice. I have been an active part of the Montenegrin non-profit sector since I was 18, constantly fighting against corruption and organised crime and advocating for better rule of law and human rights. With such a personal background, BIRN Montenegro, but also the entire BIRN family, is a logical continuation of something I believe is my cause, rather than work.

3. How was the process of forming a media non-profit in Montenegro from scratch? Did you confront difficulties? How did you overcome them?

At this point, we are still finalizing the paperwork and expect our portal to be fully operational in a few months’ time. But through this process, we were able to see how the bureaucracy, inherited even from communist times, can sometimes make life impossible for those fighting for changes and reforms.

4. What shall we expect from BIRN Montenegro in the coming months?

Many interesting investigative stories, hopefully a lot of truthful and professional news pieces, and a lot of activities in the field, improving the overall media scene in Montenegro.

5. What advice would you give to people currently trying to form a media non-profit in the region?

I would say, no matter how hard it sometimes looks, it pays off, as media and NGOs are the key pillars in each country in the region that are protecting democracy and human rights.