Open data for Open Government

Posted on
February 2014 – October 2014

BIRN Serbia – past programme

The aim of the project is to empower Open Data concept in Serbia and to enable media, CSO and expert community to use hard facts related to public expenditures in innovative and value-added ways, reinforcing their watchdog role.


The project aims to support the investigative journalists with financial support and providing a room for publishing the stories.  The Project is part of the USAID programme for strengthening independent media in Macedonia and is implemented in partnership with Center for Civil Communications, Senter for investigative journalism - SCOOP Macedonia, TV magazine KOD and daily newspaper KOHA.

The project which was launched in December 2012 has several different elements including fostering links between journalists and NGOs, training of NGO representatives, supporting the journalists to investigate and publishing their stories.

Macedonia’s media are troubled with many challenges. Closure of independent and critical media, increasing pressure and control of the government over numerous media outlets and rising trend of self-censorship have led to a journalism guided by political and business interests of media owners, limited space for objective reporting and have almost wiped out investigative reporting. At the same time, professional journalism standards are largely ignored.

With this project BIRN Macedonia promotes and tries to strengthen the relation between the media and NGOs by detecting the priority issues of common interest. Ten debates with different topic between journalists and NGOs are included. The goal is the participants to detect the topics that need to be challenged.

BIRN Macedonia supports the investigative journalism by opening eight calls for investigative stories. About 40 journalists will be awarded with financial support for in-depth investigation on specific topic. The selected journalists will be provided with mentors from BIRN and partner organizations staff who will guide the journalists through the investigative process.

The Project provides publishing the stories written by the selected journalists on a separate web site designed for the Project but also on other media. The web site will not serve only for publishing the stories but also as a data base of NGOs and experts in various fields so the journalists and NGO representatives can check the needed information and contacts.

BIRN Macedonia together with its partners will provide training and expertise for the NGOs and media through 10 workshops so they create common language, but also to train the NGOs to get bigger visibility in the media.

Together with the KOD TV magazine 12 investigative programs will be created in the framework of the Project.

The project was initiated by BIRN Macedonia in 2012 and was supported by USAID.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
  • To bridge the current gap between journalists and non-governmental organizations on issues of public interest
  • To build operational and efficient partnerships between CSOs and media as base for more objective journalism, and more informed public.

Specific Objectives:

  • Establish partnership relations between media and CSOs that will enable a long- term cooperation, instead of one-off contacts on issues of public interest. Currently media tend to ignore or use the work of CSOs selectively, thus depriving the public of the big picture. At the same time, both media and CSO’s have not forged any strong ties or cooperation.
  • Achieve greater visibility of the work of CSOs and in turn greater media legitimacy; design a line of communication between media and CSOs, so CSOs can arm journalists with necessary reporting information in public interest helping their professional, fact-based, and objective information, resulting in more professional journalistic stories.
  • Support public interest journalism; By improving journalists’ skills, capacities, tools, information and offering financial resources for in depth and investigative reports, as well as room for publishing of their stories the project aims to create a pool of investigative journalists, create a web platform and contribute a significant number of reports on key issues.
  • Provide the public with better and more substantial information as base to make informed decisions (in their private lives, businesses and as members of the society), raise public awareness on key issues and stir debate.

Main Activities:

  • Detecting of media and CSOs common issues, through a series of public debates between journalists and CSOs representatives.
  • Research of the current media coverage of the detected common issues, through an in-depth monitoring of the way Macedonian media and journalists report those issues
  • Creating a common language for CSOs and media through 10 workshops for CSOs
  • Technical assistance to Macedonian journalists in reporting important issues on more professional, fact-based and objective way
  • Providing journalists and CSOs with a room for reporting for issues of common interest and for offering citizens important information to make right
  • Sharing information and news reporting materials with other Balkan countries

Target Groups:

  • Journalists and CSOs from Macedonia