Open Call: Digital Rights Programme for Journalists 2022

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Journalists from Southeast and Central Europe are invited to apply for the second edition of BIRN’s Digital Rights Programme for Journalists, which aims to explore threats to internet freedoms and the harms deriving from the digital ecosystem.

Illustration: BIRN/Igor Vujcic

As part of our Reporting Democracy platform, BIRN’s “Digital Rights Programme for Journalists” enables media workers, writers and journalists to cover under-reported topics related to the growing digital rights challenges in the region.

BIRN is looking for journalists interested in digital transformation and its impact on democracy, in particularly on the following:

  • Freedom of expression
  • COVID-related tech regulations
  • Content removal
  • Machine-learning algorithms and algorithmic decision-making processes
  • Transparency of the processes of digital transformation in the region
  • Forces fuelling hate speech and discrimination in the digital environment and their implications
  • Gender or LGBTIQ online practices
  • Digital security and phishing campaigns
  • Privacy and personal data breaches
  • Biometric and Facial Recognition
  • Accountability of the major Internet platforms and online safety of users
  • Information security breaches
  • Blocking and filtering of content
  • Manipulation and propaganda in the digital environment
  • 5G technology in the region
  • Cryptocurrencies/blockchains in the world of financial crime
  • Social media bots and troll farms

We are offering a comprehensive six-month programme. This includes: regular networking opportunities; meetings with actors and experts dealing with digital transformation challenges and freedom of expression on the net; financial support; on-the-job mentoring and editorial sessions to produce high-quality journalism and educational sessions, focused on digital security for media. The programme aims to cover under-reported topics related to the health of the digital ecosystem and digital rights violations in Southeast and Central Europe.

If you are interested in big platforms, freedom of expression or the digital policy agenda, or you already have a story in mind but lack resources and guidance to do it, this programme is for you.

Grants worth up to 2,000 euros are available for professional freelance or staff journalists with ideas for investigative, analytical or feature pieces. We encourage cross-border reporting but also ask that journalists prioritize health and safety, adapt reporting plans to the realities of the ongoing health crisis and follow all prescribed security measures.

To apply for the programme, use the application form attached below to send us a proposal for a story.

The stories produced under the programme will be published on Balkan Insight and by prominent European, regional and international media outlets.

The call is open until February 25, 2022.

Who can apply?

The programme is open to all journalists who believe they have a good story on an under-reported topic concerning the health of the digital ecosystem in the Southeast and Central Europe region. We also welcome applications from staff reporters from local and national media who wish to co-publish the story with us.

Formal applicants can be:

  • individual journalists (working as part of newsroom structures or as freelancers);
  • teams (e.g reporter, producer, photographer, video editor) with a designated team leader as the contract signatory.

BIRN is committed to gender diversity and freedom from prejudice on any grounds.

Story requirements

  • The story must deal with at least one of the topics listed above
  • It must be relevant to Southeast and Central European countries
  • Stories that cover more than one country will be given an advantage
  • We are looking for in-depth, investigative stories
  • The story should be around 2,000 words long
  • Each selected story must be published within six months of receipt of the first installment of the bursary.

How to apply?

Send us your story proposal using the story grant form together with the signed declaration form.

Download the Story Grant Form

Download the Declaration

Evaluation and selection:

Step I: Technical evaluation will be done by BIRN staff to ensure the applicants have followed application procedures and submitted all the required documents.

Step II: Evaluation will be done by the editorial board to select applicants based on the evaluation criteria, including:

  1. Quality of the proposed idea;
  2. Feasibility of the proposed plan;
  3. Ability to reach the broad public.

Step III: Notification of applicants.

Please send your completed form together with a signed declaration and your CV to [email protected] no later than February 25, 2022.