Governing with Integrity: Promoting Accountable Leadership in Kosovo

BIRN Kosovo

In the context of current challenges to transparency and governance integrity within Kosovo’s local municipalities, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) Kosovo will implement the project ‘Governing with Integrity: Promoting Accountable Leadership in Kosovo’ to promote a culture of accountability and integrity. This initiative targets key aspects of governance, from governmental operations to media coverage. Central to this initiative is the detailed examination of official reports, leveraging tools such as the Internal AuditMeter.


Kosovo’s ongoing struggle against corruption remains a pressing concern. The European Commission’s 2020 report outlines that while the nation is still in its early stages of preparation to combat corruption, it isn’t devoid of a robust legal framework. The foundation, aligning with international standards, is firmly in place, leading to an intriguing paradox: why is the fight against corruption not making significant strides? At the heart of this dilemma is a gap in the integrity displayed by Kosovo’s municipalities and institutions. Despite the presence of appropriate legislative measures, there’s an evident discord in their practical implementation. Such a discrepancy raises questions about the commitment of these entities to the principles of transparency, accountability, and, most importantly, integrity. For any governance system to thrive, the unwavering integrity of its institutions is paramount. Without this cornerstone, the trust between the government and its citizens begins to erode.

BIRN Kosovo’s assessment has identified that the crux of this issue lies not in the absence of adequate legislation but surrounding the implementation of these laws. One evident gap in this implementation is the systemic oversight when it comes to the auditing processes. The National Audit Office (NAO) provided a stark revelation in this context. Their data from 2018 contrasts with that of 2017, indicating a decline in the number of recommendations made. Even more concerning is the realization that only about 40 percent of these recommendations have seen fruition. Delving deeper, local governance institutions received 586 recommendations in 2018. A mere 37 percent of these were acted upon, with a concerning 34 percent remaining untouched. However, the intricacy extends beyond mere numbers. There’s an evident absence of a structured process of monitoring, evaluating, or even reporting on the progress—or the lack thereof—of these recommendations by Kosovo’s institutions. This void underscores not only a lack of accountability but also illuminates the barriers in identifying and addressing bottlenecks to these implementations. The media landscape in Kosovo provides another facet to this multifaceted issue. While the media landscape is teeming with articles touching upon the challenges in the nation’s municipalities, its approach remains traditional. A significant proportion of the journalistic community in Kosovo adheres to “protocol journalism”, focusing more on event reporting rather than investigative reporting. To bring a fresh perspective it’s not just vital to pinpoint what is wrong, but also to highlight potential resolutions. Given the current state, there’s a compelling need to shift this narrative, equipping journalists with the tools and perspective to adopt this more holistic approach to reporting. Moreover, disciplinary commissions, institutions designed to uphold integrity, often find their actions swayed by external factors, such as political affiliations. This influence often leads to neglecting proper procedures and disregarding crucial recommendations.

In light of these challenges, BIRN Kosovo envisions a multi-pronged approach. By holistically monitoring and analyzing developments within municipal administrations, organizing town-hall debates, spotlighting violations, and broadcasting programs based on tangible findings, BIRN Kosovo seeks to magnify transparency and accountability. Over the course of 9 months, through these actions, the goal is to elicit a more robust response from municipalities and cultivate a more informed, engaged, and proactive civil society, media, and citizenry.


Main objectives:

Overall Objective: Strengthen governance integrity in Kosovo’s local municipalities.

Specific Objectives:

  1. Contribute to increased transparency and accountability in executing audit recommendations.
  2. Contribute to the refinement of the operations and procedures of disciplinary commissions in targeted municipalities.
  3. Guide journalists towards investigative and solution-driven journalism.

Main activities:

Activity 1: Conducting a detailed examination of NAO’s Annual Audit Reports from 2022 and 2021, each corresponding to one of the 5 targeted municipalities and BIRN will send letters to the selected municipalities, clearly stating the violations, the parties responsible and requesting information on what measures the municipalities have taken or intend to take as a consequence.

Activity 2: Compiling and publishing comprehensive analysis for each of the 5 municipalities.

Activity 3: Conducting analysis and continuous monitoring of disciplinary commissions and procedures in a select subset of three municipalities.

Uncovering the Truth: Combating Monoethnic Journalism and Advocating for the Missing Persons in Kosovo

BIRN Kosovo

The overall objective of the proposed action is to contribute to transforming the discourse surrounding the missing persons issue, paving the way for reconciliation, resolution and mutual understanding, all while advocating for the rights of their families. This action aims to achieve the overall objective through a combination of methods that seek to educate, inform, and stimulate public discourse.


The Kosovo war, a profoundly distressing period during the breakup of Yugoslavia, continues to cast a dark shadow over many families even decades later. An agonising remnant of this period is the issue of missing persons in Kosovo, a matter yet to be fully resolved. Initial approximations suggested between 4,400 to 4,500 individuals vanished during the conflict, which came to an end in June 1999 following a NATO military intervention. As of today, the fate of approximately 1,621 individuals of all ethnic backgrounds remains unknown, a haunting fact that fuels a perpetual sense of loss, fear, and uncertainty among affected families and communities.

However, drawing from the European Commission’s Kosovo 2022 Report, the unresolved fate of persons who are missing from the 1990s conflicts remains a pressing concern in the Western Balkans. Despite the efforts of Kosovo’s authorities, which led to 9 exhumations and the official identification of 21 persons in 2021, the reality is that 1,621 people are still missing as of April 2022. This continuous uncertainty casts a shadow over the region’s reconciliation efforts. Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) posits that the absence of political will and dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia exacerbates this issue. This also often includes bias or ethnic centric reporting from the mainstream media. Therefore, it is imperative for the independent media to shed light on the profound impact this unresolved matter has, particularly on the families of the missing persons, and more broadly, on regional reconciliation.

Although the momentum to address the issue of missing persons exists, 24 years after the conflict, monoethnic narratives by both Albanians and Serbs overshadow the shared experiences of suffering and loss among families of missing persons.

The institutional frameworks in Kosovo, particularly entities like the Special Prosecutor’s Office of Kosovo and the Inter-Ministerial Working Group on with the Past and Reconciliation, are central in the efforts to resolve the fates of missing persons and address war crimes. However, these institutions often grapple with issues of transparency, accountability, and reach, becoming hamstrung by systematic constraints.

In this context, the BIRN and Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture (ACDC) project presents an opportunity for these institutions. By showcasing their endeavours, we aim to extend their visibility and promote a deeper public comprehension of their roles.

On the other hand, journalists lack the specialised knowledge to handle the topic of missing persons with the sensitivities and care they warrant. Our actions are designed to directly tackle this problem, by offering capacity-building training for journalists, emphasising accurate, impartial, and humane reporting. Furthermore, by targeting journalists from diverse ethnic backgrounds, our action will contribute to a media ecosystem where narratives of forced disappearances and missing persons are inclusive and representative of all affected ethnicities.

Through our initiative, we endeavour to highlight these efforts and the associated challenges, fostering an environment that encourages more proactive policy-making to better support affected families and ensuring a platform for these institutions to demonstrate their commitment and progress.

To ensure a comprehensive approach and a more nuanced understanding of the problem, BIRN is partnering with the Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture (ACDC), a Serb NGO based in North Mitrovica. This partnership serves to encompass both Albanian and Serbian perspectives, to offer an unbiased and fact-based narrative on the missing persons issue. Together, as project partners we will align all affected communities to create an environment of shared understanding and common pursuit for the truth.


European Union Office in Kosovo

Main Objectives:

Objective 1: Equip journalists with the knowledge and tools necessary for effective, impartial, and sensitive reporting on the issue of missing persons.

Objective 2: To enhance accountability and understanding of the investigative and justice processes by fostering dialogue with institutional stakeholders is designed to bridge this information gap.

Objective 3: Youth across Kosovo communities enhanced media literacy and gained the necessary knowledge on fact-checking, ethical constitutes and professional reporting.

Main Activities:

  1. Specialized Training Program for Journalists
  2. Production of Eight (8) TV Documentaries
  3. Post-Premiere Public Debates:
  4. Producing four (4) TV Reports with War Crime Prosecutors
  5. Publication of Web-stories on BIRN’s Platform


Output 1.1 – Media deliver balanced, effective, and empathetic narratives around the missing persons’ issues

Output 2.1 –  Public discourse is invigorated and comprehension regarding the missing persons deepened

Output 3.1 – Public dialogue initiated, understanding of the missing persons issue deepened and active public involvement stimulated

Output 4.1 – to contribute to an environment where transparency, accountability, and public trust in the justice system’s approach to missing persons cases are strengthened

Output 5.1 – Public’s focus on the issue maintained through offering a continuous stream of informative and compelling content on the experiences of missing persons and their families, and updates on investigations

Target Groups:

  • Families of missing persons
  • Journalists and media outlets
  • Representatives of the Special Prosecutor’s Office
  • Local and Central Level Government Officials
  • Academia and Researchers

Main implementer:

BIRN Kosovo

Project partner:

Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture (ACDC)

Promoting Fact-Based Reporting and Media Literacy in Addressing Mis- and Disinformation

BIRN Kosovo

The overall goal of the project is to help prevent the spread of false news, misinformation, and disinformation on different platforms in Kosovo and to foster the development of a discerning, informed, and ethical media environment, organisations, and professionals, by contributing to setting up of a sustainable model of reliable press in Kosovo that enhances trust among communities and works towards advancing sustained peace and security, political equanimity, and coexistence in the region. Furthermore, the project aims to contribute to the creation of a critical mass of news and information consumers in Kosovo able to identify, prevent further spreading, and protect themselves from false news, misinformation, and disinformation.


In multi-ethnic, post-conflict societies, misinformation has the potential to adversely impact conditions for sustained peace and coexistence among communities and create political strife. Moreover, in a digital and social media age, and a of the steep rise of online news portals in Kosovo, rumours and manipulated falsehoods can have heightened operational consequences for UNMIK and international partners by undoing or undermining careful and deliberate political work, and directly impacting the safety and security of communities that peacekeeping missions serve.

The proposed project comes at a time when Kosovo continues to witness an upward trend in the spread of mis- and disinformation. Media outlets lack the necessary capacities (resources and skillsets) to report on these issues and uphold professional fact-checking standards, whereas consumers are not well-equipped to identify spurious news stories and debunk them. Such false news items are frequently on topics related to members of non-majority communities, which in turn perpetuates discrimination, and reinvigorates fear and insecurity amongst readers. These news items are easily spread across most online media given current social media algorithms reward polarising and extreme content. This is similarly a problem in the Western Balkans.

BIRN Kosovo, in cooperation with Serbian-language Kosovo portal KoSSev, will identify, analyse and debunk false or misleading news; covering topics relating to, inter alia, security, politics, inter-ethnic relations, tension in northern Kosovo, mis- and disinformation, health, the economy and culture through the publication of fact-checking articles and television programmes, and will help cultivate a fact-checking culture amongst young and future journalists and students through workshops and lectures. All activities will be conducted in line with international human rights frameworks.



Main Objectives:

Objective 1: Enhanced knowledge and awareness on fact-checking journalism among young generation.

Objective 2: Increased public awareness about mis- and disinformation relating to areas such as security, health, economy, and culture.

Objective 3: Youth across Kosovo communities enhanced media literacy and gained the necessary knowledge on fact-checking, ethical constitutes and professional reporting.

Main Activities:

  1. Organise 2 training workshops on fact-checking journalism with 40 young journalists and students;
  2. Publish 40 articles that debunk mis- or disinformation circulating across various platforms in Kosovo; provide fact-checked, real-time, accurate reporting during crisis situations;
  3. Establish an anti-disinformation partnership with the local Serbian-language media KoSSev publishing articles debunking false news as a result of this partnership;
  4. Produce and broadcast 4 TV programs featuring members of different communities living in Kosovo to discuss effects of mis- and disinformation on the real-time reporting during crisis situations; and
  5. Translate into Serbian language the existing Albanian language content of the false news and hate speech platform (developed by D+) making it bilingual and available to Serbian-speaking youth in Kosovo, and run a fighting dis- and misinformation course for 200 high school and university students from different communities in Kosovo.

Target Groups:

  • Members of all ethnic communities in Kosovo, particularly Albanians and Serbs
  • Students and journalists of local media from different ethnic backgrounds
  • Media outlets
  • Citizens of Kosovo

Main implementer:

BIRN Kosovo

Project partner:


Dealing with conflict legacy in Kosovo

BIRN Kosovo

This project aims to enhance Kosovo’s societal cohesion by fostering a deeper understanding of Kosovo’s conflict legacy through nationwide research, capacity-building activities, and the integration of transitional justice into the national education curriculum.  It aims to build the capacities of young students to research matters on transitional justice and to provide the general public with a deeper understanding of the conflict legacy.


The Kosovo War has deeply affected local communities and the people’s collective memory thus creating biased narratives that continue to divide rather than unify the communities living in Kosovo. Dealing with the conflict legacy in Kosovo aims to address the knowledge gap on the Kosovo War and enhance public understanding through a multifaceted approach involving research, education, and public discourse.  An example is the educational system which perpetuates the war narratives leaving ethnic divisions lingering more than two decades after the conflict.

This project in the first instance aims to deepen the understanding of the war by conducting comprehensive, objective research to challenge one-sided narratives. This objective will be achieved through detailed research and analysis of war discourse by Kosovo’s main institutions and some targeted municipalities to understand more about how they take into account the war and the aftermath of their public discourse, with an emphasis on what they chose to share to the public by analyzing their official websites and social media profiles. The interest of the project is to analyze their discourse and see if transitional justice principles apply to the main institutions and their heads in carrying out the war legacy. In addition to that, the research will emphasize researching the media, monuments, and research narratives of solidarity by individuals coming from different communities during the war. All the research findings will be disseminated through a conference, TV debate, and digital channels.

Dealing with the conflict legacy in Kosovo efforts to address the consequences of the conflict in Kosovo. To achieve this besides having thorough research on war, the project aims to empower the youth by providing them with opportunities to research transitional justice by encouraging them to conduct research, contribute, and promote specific topics of transitional justice. The necessity for meaningful educational reform, particularly in addressing the complexities of the war within the national curriculum will be addressed through a thorough needs assessment for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology placing the focus on the extent to which transitional justice is currently addressed within Kosovo’s educational framework.

This project comes at a time when the public discourse is very quickly heavily loaded with increased doses of mono-ethnic narratives, thus forgetting the multi-ethnic character of Kosovo. Through the research by BIRN Kosovo, it is intended to explain in detail some aspects of the war and to adress the urgency that the new generations begin to learn properly about everything that happened in Kosovo, with transitional justice principles included.

Through research grants for youth, it seeks to give research opportunities to young students to give their contribute to the field of transitional justice by ensuring them a capacity-building workshop and mentorship up to finalization of their research project.


UNDP, British Embassy

Main objectives:

Objective 1: To bridge the knowledge gap on the Kosovo War and enhance public understanding through objective, multi-perspective, in-depth research and public discourse

Objective 2: To cultivate a future-oriented approach to transitional justice by engaging youth in research and providing insight into the existing state of transitional justice education within the University of Prishtina.

Main activities:
Activity 1: War Heritage Research and Documentation – Research, draft and finalize the research paper

Activity 2: Organize a conference to disseminate the findings of the research paper

Activity 3: Organize a TV debate

Activity 4: Promoting research on transitional justice through student grants: Drafting, finalizing, and opening the call for the students of the University of Prishtina

Activity 5:  Capacity Building Workshop

Activity 6: Publishing student’s research papers on BIRN’s website

Activity 7: Preparation and Submission of Educational Needs Assessment

Target groups:

The project’s main target audience includes students, educators, researchers, journalists, survivors and witnesses of Kosovo War as well as policymakers.


BIRN Kosovo

Unveiling Foreign Influences Behind Disinformation in the Western Balkans

BIRN Kosovo

Lead Applicant’s Name:
BIRN Kosovo



CFI – Développement Médias

Short Summary:

The “Unveiling Foreign Influences Behind Disinformation in the Western Balkans” project addresses the growing challenge of fake news and disinformation campaigns threatening geopolitical landscapes, particularly in the Western Balkans. The project produces a documentary revealing the sources and impacts of malign foreign disinformation campaigns and their pervasiveness in the media ecosystems of Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro.

Long Summary:

The “Unveiling Foreign Influences Behind Disinformation in the Western Balkans” project is led by BIRN Kosovo, in partnership with BIRN HUB and with the support of CFI – Développement Médias. This initiative addresses the growing challenge of fake news and disinformation campaigns that threaten geopolitical landscapes, particularly in the Western Balkans.

In a region vulnerable to Russian interference, disinformation campaigns aim to undermine support for European integration and have been especially active in spreading propaganda on NATO and exploiting divisions regarding accession. The Ukraine conflict has further intensified the spread of misinformation through social networks, inciting separatist influences in the region. Local media in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina have been particularly active in distorting the EU-led Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.

The project confronts these challenges by producing a documentary that exposes the sources and impacts of disinformation campaigns and their pervasiveness in the media ecosystems of Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. Through journalistic investigations in these countries, the project aims to educate and inform the public on this phenomenon, while strengthening local media and journalists’ resilience against misinformation threats.

The project’s ultimate goal is to enhance transparency, encourage critical thinking, and contribute to a more informed and democratic society in the Western Balkans. By highlighting adverse influences, the project aims to bolster the region’s resilience against disinformation, advocate for media freedoms, and promote truth and transparency in public discourse.

Target Group(s):

  • Local Media Outlets
  • Local Journalists
  • Civil Society Organizations
  • Public Institutions
  • Citizens of the Western Balkans

Expected Results:

  • The documentary produced through the collaborative efforts of BIRN Kosovo and BIRN HUB will expose disinformation campaigns in the Western Balkans, bolstering the region’s resilience against malign disinformation efforts.

Main Activities:

Activity 1.1: Research and Interviews

Activity 1.2: Script Writing and Story Development

Activity 1.3: Production and Post-production of the Documentary

Activity 1.4: Translation, Editing, and Subtitling in Three Languages

Activity 1.5: Broadcasting the Documentary

Resilient Community Programme

BIRN Kosovo

BIRN Kosovo through the Resilient Community Programme aims to contribute to enabling the general public to be more informed on the matter of P/VE, R&R, and other forms of violent extremism and also organize different activities for media actors,  for the main level and local level on P/CVE and R&R in the implementation of the National P/CVE Strategy and Action Plan.

Kosovo’s post-conflict setting is characterized by continued political and social tension and it has been characterized and challenged by various forms of extremism, including ethnonationalism, religious, political, and those driven by extreme right-wing ideologies. Despite political willingness, central and local level institutions have shown a lack of capacity to perform PVE and R&R activities and when it comes to other forms of Violent Extremism there is a lack of knowledge and engagement.

BIRN Kosovo has taken the initiative to organize media campaigns and lobbying actions to promote awareness among the general public regarding P/VE, R&R, and other forms of extremism. As part of this initiative, TV debates will be conducted to disseminate information and provide a platform for discussions on these matters. The aim is to ensure that people are well-informed and equipped to tackle extremism in all its forms.BIRN is committed to providing support to local institutions through expert guidance and training sessions. This project aims to facilitate training programs for municipal assembly members, workshops for municipal staff and multidisciplinary teams, and offer on-ground support to frontline workers. Our efforts at the local level are geared towards strengthening institutions and building capacity, which will ultimately benefit the community at large.

On the national level, part of the implementation of this project is the direct monitoring of the implementation of the National Strategy for Preventing and Countering Terrorism 2023-2028 and its Action Plan which will be achieved by conducting 4 bi-annual analysis. Additionally, a customized curriculum will be designed for training judges and prosecutors on the topics of Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) and Rehabilitation and Reintegration (R&R). This training program aims to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively handle cases related to these issues. To foster a more informed and nuanced discussion on violent extremism, we will be providing training to media actors and awarding 10 fellowships to journalists. By encouraging more journalists to participate in this discourse, we hope to promote a greater understanding of the complex issues surrounding violent extremism and ultimately contribute to a more peaceful and secure world.


Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF)

Main objectives:

Objective 1: Strengthening central and local level institutional operational and knowledge capacities

Objective 2: Strengthening operational and knowledge capacities of Local CSO-s and nonstate actors to work on PVE and R&R

Objective 3: Reducing youth vulnerability towards violent extremism by increasing a sense of purpose and social cohesion

Objective 4: Raising community awareness to accept the reintegration of returnees and marginalized groups, by conducting systematic awareness raising.

Main activities:

Activity 1: Direct monitoring of National Strategy for Preventing and Countering Terrorism 2023-2028  and writing of four (4) bi-annual analysis, two per year

Activity 2: Twenty (20) days of support to local institutions to implement their activities as outlined in the strategy/action plan

Activity 3: Twelve (12) TV debates to ensure media advocacy and accountability

Activity 4: Forty-two (42) TV reports,  online reporting, news pieces and PSAs to raise awareness amongst the public on what violent extremism and far-right extremism are, how they manifest themselves public can protect themselves

Activity 5: 2×2 days training for judges and prosecutors (8 days) on the P/VE, R&R, and other forms of extremism which include the prior design of tailored curriculum.

Activity 6: One (1) Follow up workshop for judged and prosecutors after one year of completing trainings on P/VE, R&R, and other forms of extremism

Activity 7: Eleven (11) Trainings for municipal assembly members

Activity 8: Eleven (11) Workshops for municipal staff/multidisciplinary teams and frontline workers

Activity 9: One (1) Intensive 5-day training course for media actors (20 participants) on P/VE, R&R and other forms of extremism
Activity 10: Development of online materials to be embedded in BIRN website

Activity 11: 10 fellowships (at least 5 of which are non-majority) journalists

Target groups:

Government and municipal institutions working on P/VE issues and R&R and other forms of extremism;

Local CSOs and nonstate actors

Majority and non-majority communities and local mechanisms, in particular youth;

General public


BIRN Kosovo

Call for Applications: Financial Support for the Production of Quality, Engaging and Innovative Content for Western Balkans Media Outlets and Journalists

The project Western Balkan Media for Change opens a call for the financial support of individuals, media outlets, associations and other organisations from the Western Balkans through its grants.

The grants are intended to support well-defined innovative projects, actions and initiatives that go beyond regular operations – but not to finance regular operations.

The call aims to support projects focused on quality, engaging and innovative content production, local and regional collaboration, professional development, internships, networking, mobility, and validation of business ideas. Specifically, six priority areas fall into this call:

  1. Validation of a business idea
  2. Content production through learning, mobility or collaboration
  3. Strengthening public broadcasting service content and audience reach
  4. Audience development and engagement
  5. Networking support
  6. Promoting quality professional and ethical journalism

Project activities should be implemented in the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. Their duration could range from one (1) month up to a maximum of six (6) months.

This call is open until December 31, 2024, at 24.00. Applicants may submit application(s) throughout this period.

The Western Balkans Media for Change project is funded by the UK Government and implemented by the British Council in partnership with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), Thomson Foundation (TF), and The International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC). It supports the work of media outlets and individual journalists from the Western Balkan countries.

The project aims to help them improve operational capacity, business sustainability and innovation potential, while aiming to equip media professionals to produce more quality diverse, factchecked and gender sensitive content that will reach and engage with wider audiences.

More information about the call and how to apply can be found here.

Meet the People Behind BIRN: Azem Kurtic

Azem Kurtic joined BIRN in 2022 as a correspondent from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He started his career in the youth newsroom at Bosnia’s public broadcaster, BHRT, where he covered a range of topics for different radio shows over the course of three years.

Even though he has a degree in physiotherapy, the first time he said “Good evening” in front of a microphone at the local radio station, he realized that journalism was the profession for him.

Since then, and during his work at BIRN, he has had the chance to “nerd over political affairs in Bosnia”, as it is a “really complicated but really interesting system to follow”.

Let’s meet him!

  1. You have a degree in physiotherapy but have been working in media since high school. Tell us something more about your professional path and this switch.

I was lucky enough to get in touch with journalism while in high school and one thing led to another. Journalism and its formats allow me to be creative with a purpose, which I truly liked since the beginning. I was also lucky to have amazing mentors, experienced journalists and producers who were patient enough to transfer their knowledge and experience in different media and different media formats. I must say that I’m a child of the radio and had my beginnings behind the microphone, and still feel the same thrill whenever I sit in front of the mike.

I would love to say that there was some amazing story behind the switch, but just the idea of being outside and among people was much more attractive than the idea of spending 40 years working in a hospital. In hospital, the days quickly become the same, you know you will have six to eight patients each day, some more challenging than the others. In journalism, the day is still young, even in the evening.

  1. During your career, you’ve worked as a producer of festivals and events, documentary films and series, as well as on live TV and radio programmes. How did this experience help your journalistic work?

The first thing I’m very thankful for is an extensive network of contacts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and abroad, which is the result of producing so many different formats. I’m using many of them in my daily journalism. The other thing is the “can do” attitude that I had to develop, and grow with it in the end, as sometimes the requests I had to fulfil in order to finish the shooting asked for a lot of research, calls and sometimes creativity. In the process, I also learned what I call “phone-charm” and how to actually speak to people, even when there is a language barrier. And the third is the knowledge of different formats, which I often combine in my stories.

  1. What turning point made you decide to become a journalist?

It was definitely my first time in front of the microphone at the local radio station. I’m still chasing the thrill of that first “good evening” I said. My decision was confirmed during the February 2014 mass protest in Tuzla, where I was living at the time. The calm protest became violent on the third or fourth day, when the demonstrators set fire to cantonal government buildings in Tuzla, Zenica and Sarajevo, including the Presidency building in the capital. I loved the thrill of covering it. After that, for some time I had this crazy idea of becoming a war reporter, but luckily I realised I was not made for that.

  1. As a Bosnia correspondent, you report daily for Balkan Insight and the Balkan Transitional Justice programme. What was the most challenging thing in your work since joining the BIRN team in 2022?

First thing that comes to my mind is the August 2023 livestreamed femicide, which I had to cover for Balkan Insight. I saw the video of that execution, as it quickly spread. After finishing the news, I remember telling Dusica, our editor, that I needed to go for a walk. It wasn’t the first time that something had an emotional impact on me, but I had never seen something so brutal before.

Second thing that comes to my mind is the 2022 Srebrenica Peace March, which I volunteered to cover without thinking much. I casually woke up one day and went on a 100-kilometre three-day walk, without any physical preparation. As a cherry on top, it was raining two days in a row, and on the second morning, after walking 33 kilometres completely wet, I was woken up at 4:30am because my tent was flooded. I think I never felt more miserable in my entire life.

  1. You cover politics, the rule of law and human rights, transitional justice, corruption and organized crime. What story/stories did you work on during this time that you’re most proud of?

I’m happy to have the chance to nerd over political affairs in Bosnia, as it is a complicated but really interesting system to follow. Probably the most challenging analysis I had to do was one on state-owned property in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a hot topic for years in the country. I spent days trying to understand the laws, regulations, agreements and procedures, and ended up mapping almost all state-owned property in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

My favourite part of the job is the chance to document stories of different people and I truly enjoy writing features. I’m really proud of the Women Picturing Bosnia’s War series, featuring female war photographers telling the stories behind their photos.

  1. What’s your message to some young person thriving to become a journalist in a region?

Buckle up; you’re up for a fun ride!

BIRN Invites Journalists to join IPI World Congress and Media Innovation Festival in Sarajevo

May 2024 congress will gather leaders and media professionals to explore new solutions, foster understanding, and critically assess the media’s role in navigating contemporary crises.

The 2024 IPI World Congress and Media Innovation Festival is set to gather prominent journalists, editors, and publishers worldwide in Sarajevo from May 22 to 24.

Themed “Navigating Crises: Journalism at a Turning Point,” this event offers a platform for media professionals, thought leaders, and innovators to search for new solutions, foster understanding, and critically assess the media’s role in addressing contemporary crises. Balkan Investigative Reporting network, BIRN, is partnering with the International Press Institute, IPI, at this three-day event.

Having originated amidst global turmoil, the IPI global network, now spanning over 70 years, remains dedicated to safeguarding press freedom and upholding independent journalism as crucial in tackling common challenges.

As the world grapples with multifaceted crises, including climate change, economic inequality, geopolitical conflicts, humanitarian strife, misinformation and intense polarization, the IPI World Congress remains a vital forum for dialogue. Participants will explore the media’s role in navigating these crises and discuss a path forward, recognising the power of a free and critical press.

The festival brings together media innovators, local news outlets, and startups to share stories, network, and learn from each other’s successes and missteps. Discussions will focus on the importance of innovation, the indispensability of local news in times of crisis, revolutions in business models, and more.

The IPI World Congress also includes the IPI Award Ceremony, an annual event honouring journalists and media organisations for their contributions to press freedom, often in the face of personal risk.

Registration for the 2024 IPI World Congress and Media Innovation Festival is now open, via the following link.

For more information about the programme visit the event page.

Media Innovation Europe (MIE) is a two-year program, funded by the European Union and led by the International Press Institute (IPI), along with Thomson Media (TM) in Berlin, the Media Development Foundation (MDF) in Kyiv, and BIRN in Sarajevo. The primary objective is to provide European newsrooms with the necessary resources, time, space, and expertise to navigate the challenges they face, reach new audiences, and secure financial sustainability.

 As part of this program, BIRN has taken the lead in managing the Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants, aimed at empowering media outlets to engage their audiences in investigative reporting.

Fellowship 2024: Voices – Call for Applications Open

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.

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.