BIRN’s Museum Reporting House Presented at International Journalism Week in Greece

Nejra Mulaomerović, Programme Associate at BIRN’s Balkan Transitional Justice Programme, was invited to IMEDD’s International Journalism Week in Athens to speak about BIRN’s new museum.

Nejra Mulaomerović, Programme Associate at BIRN’s Balkan Transitional Justice Programme, presented BIRN’s new museum, Reporting House, dedicated to media workers who covered the war in Former Yugoslavia at Incubator for Media Education and Development – IMEDD’s International Journalism Week in Athens.

IMEDD, a Greek non-profit organization with a mission to support transparency and independence in journalism and promote meritocracy and excellence in the field, organizes the International Journalistic Week in Athens, where international organizations, journalists, and the student community meet to exchange experiences, opinions and knowledge.

Mulaomerović spoke to an international audience about BIRN’s initiative to create the first regional museum in the Balkans “built” by journalists and dedicated to them.

To ensure that transitional justice efforts are heard by a wider population, in 2021 BIRN started a bold initiative to create the first independent, non-profit regional museum in the Balkans that would bring the comprehensive story of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and its aftermath to the attention of as many people as possible.

Guided by constant reevaluation and examination of the existing archives within BIRN and outside the network, a new direction emerged that unmasked a need for a distinct and reshaped approach to education and research within the transitional justice process, but also to role of media in it, in particular to disinformation and propaganda, but also the role that quality journalism plays.

“Journalists are engaged in creating the collection of the museum. We want to celebrate media workers who covered the war. A lot of people are not addressing the war trauma in our region. Reporting House would be a place where this topic will be discussed together with other issues of conflict journalism and transitional justice,” Mulaomerović said in her speech.

The museum will offer compelling, fact-based narratives on the break-up of Yugoslavia, the role of media propaganda in the war, war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, the life of journalists and media workers during the war and the overall challenges of war reporting in the 1990s in parallel with present conflict journalism challenges.

The goal of the museum will go beyond serving as a heritage venue of wartime history; despite the tragic events, BIRN wants to celebrate journalists, photographers and media workers who courageously reported the war and its aftermath, exposing atrocities and serious human rights abuses while maintaining the highest professional standards – despite the deadly risks they faced.

 

 

 

 

Greater Internet Freedom

BIRN Hub

The project aims to contribute to the overall exposure and mainstreaming of issues of Internet freedom and digital rights through partnering with local organizations from the Balkans and Moldova in monitoring and analyzing trends pertaining to freedom of expression, privacy and freedoms online. It involves organizing regional events/workshops for key stakeholders and supporting region-wide capacity to address and respond to technical and policy-level attacks on Internet freedom.

Summary:

The Greater Internet Freedom (GIF) program is a three-year, global program that works to preserve an open, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet – and by extension, protect individuals, civil society organizations, media outlets and vulnerable groups who rely on it to realize fundamental freedoms. Through its dual objective of enhancing digital security for civil society and media and increasing citizen engagement in Internet government, GIF supports a diverse range of elements that impact Internet freedom.

The core of GIF’s approach centres on putting regional and local organizations at the forefront of this work. By enabling local and regional partners to lead this work, GIF helps local actors to build stronger trusted networks with peer organizations in their regions and around the world – and gain technical expertise from expert international organizations and share lessons learned.

Donor:

USAid

Main objectives:

 Increased Citizen Engagement in Internet Governance.

 Main Activities:

  1. Working with local advocacy partners, to promote and advance policies to protect an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet
  2. Identify and build relationship with key stakeholders to safeguard internet freedom, IF, at regional and national levels
  3. Expand and mainstream IF issues regionally, by training and mentoring human rights CSOs to integrate internet freedom advocacy into their advocacy programs.
  4. Coordinating with local advocacy partners to analyze and respond to policies that risk closing civic space
  5. Raise awareness among regulators, policy makers, service providers / private sector, and government actors on challenges and opportunities to uphold internet freedoms
  6. Pursue locally and regionally relevant innovative approaches to spreading digital rights awareness, including working with universities to expand curricula; documentation of violations by both private and public sectors, etc.
  7. Sharing best practice responses to the above approaches
  8. Play a leading role in regional and international Internet governance forums

Target Groups:

  • General public
  • CSOs
  • Journalists
  • Human rights defenders

Main implementer:

BIRN Hub

Partners:

Internews

Project associates:

Da se zna! (Serbia), Kvart (Bosnia and Herzegovina), the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (North Macedonia), Open Data Kosovo (Kosovo)

Going Environmental: Strengthening Local and Regional Media in the Western Balkans Through Reporting on Climate Change

BIRN Hub

This project aims to contribute to improving the public debate on climate change and environmental protection in the Balkans through strengthening journalists and media to produce high-quality, independent and systematic climate reporting. Journalists and media will work together so that, instead of isolated reports on environmental problems, systematic and cross-border reporting is done that can convey the national and global character of this phenomenon to the public in an understandable way.

Summary:

Media play an important role in the fragile balance of a post-conflict situation in a region characterized by linguistic and ethnic diversity: media can break down issues of regional, national and international significance into local contexts and idioms. They represent the most effective tool for holding local institutions to account. They also enjoy a potentially high level of trust in their local target group. However, when it comes to environmental and climate reporting in the media in the Balkans, systematic and competent reporting is not being done as yet.

 Journalists need more background knowledge on complex environmental and climate issues, especially related to EU regulations, which are relevant for the Balkans. Journalists need additional skills in research, data analysis and fact-checking as well as financial resources. Finally, as a result of a lack of resources, journalists lack opportunities for networking and cross-border cooperation with colleagues investigating similar topics in other countries. Connections to regional and pan-European networks would bring new perspectives and more sustainability for the journalists interested in these topics.

In response to these needs, the project is intended to carry out capacity on three levels:

  • Participating journalists and media are aware of the importance of climate issues, in particular the cross-border nature of a problem that needs to be addressed collectively in the region. Through two workshops and a final event, their skills to investigate these topics will be strengthened and their networking possibilities improved. Finally, resources will be provided for the production of their stories during the project.
  • Participating journalists and media will network with colleagues from other countries so that they can access a wealth of experience and know-how in the field of climate reporting.
  • Participating journalists and media may better understand the special responsibility they have in raising public awareness on climate change. 

Donor:

Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Main objectives: 

  • To achieve more quality reporting on climate change and environmental issues through tailored workshops, production of stories, peer-to-peer learning and cross-border cooperation. Participating journalists and media will gain knowledge and resources to investigate different environmental issues.
  • To integrate participants into different journalistic networks. Through their integration into the n-ost and BIRN network, participants will be better networked throughout Europe and enabled to produce transnational, collaborative work.
  • To raise public awareness on climate change and the environment.

Main Activities:

  • Project start, central strategy development
  • Call for participation and selection of participants
  • Kick-off meeting with all participants
  • Selection of topics and trainers, planning workshops
  • First workshop
  • Follow-up workshop and development of stories
  • Second workshop
  • Follow-up second workshop and finalization of stories
  • Publication of stories and videos about the stories
  • Final event

Target Groups:

  • 18 climate/environmental journalists
  • 18 local/regional media
  • Visitors to the final event
  • Audience of publications/stories published within the project
  • Viewers of the videos related to the publications/stories

Main implementer:

n-ost, Germany

 

 

 

 

European Focus

BIRN Hub

The project “European Focus” promotes a diverse, independent and pluralistic media environment and fosters intercultural dialogue. The “European Focus” newsletter will strengthen European reporting (its quality and quantity) and journalistic partnerships by establishing regular and long-term cross-border collaborative practices between European newsrooms, media and journalists.

Summary:

Despite its clear economic advantages and desirable political effects, collaborative cross-border journalism has not so far become a widespread form of foreign reporting – at least not in Europe. Although a range of European news publications, as well as services, collectively aggregate a “European” perspective from existing national news outlets, few European media actually produce content together, in so doing, developing a practice of collaboration and a common understanding of each other.

Although awareness of the need and the potential of more integrated productions and cooperation on European level is growing, regular and institutionalised cooperation between European news media is still too weak and underdeveloped to bring about structural change. The thresholds for many newsrooms to experiment with collaborative cross-border production methods and content formats, and establish permanent and lasting cross-border processes, are still too high.

Considering these challenges, the “European Focus” project is designed to bring together journalists (editors, reporters, correspondents) from ten news media outlets from across Europe to collaboratively create a weekly published newsletter, producing a total of 80 editions over the course of two years.

It will thereby promote a more diverse, independent and pluralistic media environment and foster intercultural dialogue. It aims to showcase and open a path for this “new normal” in European reporting practices in the everyday editorial routines of European newsrooms. The newsletter will be a truly European production, about topics that concern Europeans, written by authors from all over the continent, complementing and differentiating readers’ media consumption with multi-perspective, plural discourses that depict and shed light on a dynamic and integrated European reality.

It will strengthen European reporting by adding original European content to the media’s publication. It will contribute to the build-up of a European public sphere by reaching a European audience using the combined reach and expertise of the media consortium and building awareness of the value of plural and connected European perspectives.

It will also increase the value of journalistic work in the public eye, strengthening its perception as an essential pillar of European civil society.

Finally, the newsletter is a means to creating a resilient network of European media organisations, starting with the initial media partners in the consortium, but with the aim of continually expanding over time, and including more European media. This network will enable cross-border media partnerships and cultivate a new type of European reporting – one where news media work together to create international dialogue.

Donor:

European Union

Main objectives:

With its focus on collaborative journalism, the project pursues the following objectives:

  1. Consolidate a pan-European network of ten European news media and build their capacity to work together on this new method and format of collaborative cross-border European reporting.
  2. Increase the demand for collaborative cross-border methods, formats and contents of European reporting.
  3. Publish 80 newsletters à [????????] with segments in English, with at least 200 segments translated and republished into a minimum of nine languages by journalists from ten-plus countries, on 80 European topics, within 24 months.
  4. Disseminate the newsletters via at least nine media platforms to reach a minimum of 10,000 subscribers, reaching 200,000 online article views via the newsletter’s website, with 1,000,000 indirectly reached via the republishing of content and 500,000 people reached with promoted newsletter content via the combined social media accounts of the consortium, within 24 months. 

Main Activities:  

  1. Newsletter production
    • Hold European Topic Conference
    • Hold European authors’ meeting
    • Content production, editorial
  2. Knowledge transfer
    • Organize kick-off meeting
    • Hold online roundtable
    • Hold workshops
  3. Dissemination & follow-up
    • Produce and publish the weekly newsletter
    • Maintain regular communications and project promotion
    • External communication of lessons learned
    • Secure funding for continuation of the project

Target Groups:

  • The consortium: Delfi (EST), Domani (ITA), Gazeta Wyborcza (POL), El Confidencial (ESP), hvg (HUN), Libération (FRA), n-ost (GER), Balkan Insight (BiH), Tagesspiegel (GER) and their 80 editors.
  • The primary target audience of the newsletter – those all over Europe who are eager to widen their focus on European topics, are curious and open for a plurality of perspectives and are confident in English.
  • The secondary target audience consists of the audiences of the media of the partner consortium that will be reached indirectly through the translation, re-use and republication of the newsletter content in the national publications in their respective languages.

Main implementer:

 N-OST – Netzwerk Fur Osteuropa-Berichterstattung EV (DE)

Partners: 

  • Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – Balkan Insight (BiH)
  • AS Ekspress Meedia – Delfi (EST),
  • Editoriale Domani S.P.A. Domani (ITA),
  • SA Agora, Gazeta Wyborcza (POL),
  • El Confidencial – Titania Compania Editorial SL (ESP),
  • Heti Vilaggazdasag Kiadoi Zartkoruen Mukodo Reszvenytarsasag – HVG Kiado (HUN),
  • Libération (FRA),
  • Verlag Der Tagesspiegel GMBH – Tagesspiegel (GER).

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting Greater Media Independence in the Western Balkans

BIRN Hub

The aim of this project is to strengthen the editorial independence of the media, enabling them to provide audiences with a more diverse range of content, so encouraging open, informed and active discussion amongst audiences in the six Balkans countries.

Summary:

Local media outlets in six Balkan countries provide news, information and entertainment to over 13 million people who live outside the capital cities. These outlets face a number of threats to their independence and existence. As project research has shown, local media outlets, both online, broadcast and in print continue to be an important source of information for large numbers of people, as well as providing a mechanism for holding local government accountable.

The researchers identified a vibrant and crowded media scene with a wide variety of media outlets serving different communities. Some outlets have strong links with local NGOs and produce content focused on particular issues, including LGBTI rights, gender equality and rights for the Roma community. Others have a specific focus on local issues, such as environmental protection or protection of local archaeological sites. A number of outlets share information and news on local, cultural and social events, either for particular ethnic groups, or with the aim of supporting community cohesion. Some are very small scale, driven by the passion and commitment of a handful of individuals.

However, research also revealed their fundamental weakness. Advertising revenues overwhelmingly go to national news organisations, and local media are often left having to choose between accepting funding which undermines their independence and maintaining editorial independence but risking financial security. Funding from municipalities, individual owners and even advertising all come with the risk of clientelism, and there are examples where advertising revenue has been withdrawn as a result of certain content being published.

Other challenges, such as capacity, quality and resourcing are all related to this core issue of financial instability. Journalists are poorly paid, and many of the smaller outlets are run on a voluntary basis. This affects the pipeline of young journalists coming through, as young people choose more lucrative careers. Capacity issues mean that editorial choices are sometimes made in line with funder requirements and timelines rather than need. This diverts resources away from more complex stories that require more in-depth research and investigation.

Furthermore, women and men working in these local outlets perform a number of different roles and functions. This has an impact on quality, capacity and morale. In a context in which “fake news” and disinformation are widespread, independent local media provide a critical avenue for citizens to hold local government to account and to address issues in their local community. Many of the outlets surveyed already have some mechanism for interacting with their audiences and see this as an important means for ensuring their relevance and building trust.

Research reveals both a gender gap and a youth gap in terms of representation and visibility. Despite the majority of journalists in the region being women, media content continues to be highly gendered. Interviews with outlets has indicated that gender equality is not a priority issue for them. This gender-blind approach to reporting and management means that women will remain systemically disadvantaged in the workplace as well as in media content.

Young people consume media in a different way to the older generation. Accessing news through social media on smartphones, they are increasingly vulnerable to fake news and disinformation. Improving their engagement with independent media will help increase their resilience to harmful narratives, and could provide an outlet for more positive narratives, such as creating demand for more gender sensitive content. Engaged citizen reporting will give local news outlets an opportunity to better respond to the needs and concerns of young people, and youth media outlets can form mutually beneficial partnerships with young people who have a following on social media.

Considering these challenges, Supporting Greater Media Independence in six Balkan countries will support outlets to be more financially and structurally resilient, including improving gender quality in the workplace, and will enable them to produce more quality, relevant, gender-sensitive content that attracts and engages new audiences, including women, young people and marginalized groups. The project aims to achieve a level of relationships and standards in which media outlets and journalists report together with citizens, and not only about them.

Donor:

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office – Conflict, Stability and Security Fund

Main objective:

Audiences in six WB countries to engage with a diversified, independent and balanced media.

Main Activities:

  1. Media accelerator
    • Technical assistance support to media outlets
    • Grants for implementation of business development plans
    • Improvement of media outlets’ digital tools and capacities
    • E-learning
  2. Engaged Citizens Reporting
    • Grant funding
    • Capacity building (training and mentoring)
    • Promotion
  1. Media incubator
    • Provision of technical and legal assistance
    • Capacity Building
    • Public debate and knowledge exchange
    • Emergency Fund
  1. Youth media and young journalists
    • Support to youth media outlets
    • Young journalists’ traineeship
    • Summer school scholarships
  1. Gender and media
    • Capacity building and training on gender sensitivity for men and women media professionals
    • Capacity building and training on safety for men and women journalists
    • Assessment of media outlets against a selection of UNESCO indicators
    • Strengthening networks and sharing good practice
    • Capacity building for men and women journalists and editors on gender sensitive reporting
    • Database of sector experts disaggregated by gender
  1. Country specific interventions

Target Groups:

  • Local media outlets and journalists in the Balkan countries

Main implementer:

The British Council

Partners:

Thomson Foundation and INTRAC

 

 

 

 

Reporting Democracy

BIRN Hub

Reporting Democracy is a cross-border journalistic platform dedicated to exploring where democracy is headed across large parts of Europe. Besides generating a steady stream of features, interviews and analytical pieces done by our own correspondents, we support local journalists by commissioning stories and providing grants for in-depth features and investigations. We translate many of our articles into local languages and make them available for republication through a growing network of local media partners. We also provide a forum for a broad range of expert commentary from leaders in policy, civil society and academia.

Summary:

Across Europe, populist movements are changing the political landscape and eroding faith in democratic institutions. In some countries, governments are cracking down on independent media, the judiciary and civil society. They are rolling back progressive social policies and demonising minorities and migrants. Amid rising nationalism, Euroscepticism, far-right extremism, inequality and disenchantment with globalism, they have brushed aside values at the heart of the European project: pluralism, multilateralism, respect for the rule of law.

The result is Europe’s biggest political transformation since the end of the Cold War. At stake are not only the liberal democratic foundations of the Western postwar order. Many fear for democracy itself, as authoritarian alternatives enter the mainstream.

Our goal is to unleash the power of independent journalism to scrutinise the issues, trends and events shaping the future of democracy in Central, Eastern and Southeast Europe.

Our geographical focus spans Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, from the Baltic Sea to the Aegean. We have correspondents in the Visegrad Four countries of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary as well as in the Balkan states of Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania and North Macedonia. Our coverage also touches on Greece, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia.

Donor:

ERSTE Foundation, Nicholas Puech Foundation

Main objectives:

The specific objective is to create a networking and granting scheme for journalists from the V4 and WB regions and set up a system of financial and editorial support that enable them to explore in-depth trends and phenomena, locally or through cross-border collaboration, and communicate this to the widest possible audience through multiple channels.

The overall goal of the initiative is to establish an international journalism network and distribution platform aimed at strengthening the capacity of journalists to report systemically on populist, authoritarian, and other illiberal trends in the V4 and WB countries and so contribute to public understanding of these trends and their consequences.

 Main Activities:

 There are two main activity streams:

  1. Strengthening journalistic production of public-interest content:

–           Prominent correspondents’ network in V4 to provide regular coverage and be a focal point in the targeted countries.

–           Fellowships for Journalistic Excellence – 10 fellows will be selected each year to participate in the renewed professional development program.

–             Grants for journalists – up to 20 grants awarded annually through open calls on topics of digital rights and democracy trends

–           Fund for collaboration with authors and outlets, to foster quality coverage of topics related to democratic developments

–           Outreach of stories produced to be secured through social media and syndication to media partners on a national, regional, and international level.

  1. Networking and outreach opportunities:

–       Working visits and newsroom placements for journalists from the Visegrad region who want to do research and field reporting in Balkan countries,

–      Annual networking event, featuring an annual round-up report, marking key trends, actors and developments, gathering fellows, contributors and partners.

Target Groups:

  • Journalists and media
  • Public at large

Main Implementer:

BIRN HUB

 

 

 

Media Innovation Europe: Energizing the European Media Ecosystem

BIRN Hub

The aim of this project is to strengthen the capacities and independence of media outlets across the Visegrád and Balkan regions. The project will focus on diversifying skills of journalists to build more competitive and independent media and create opportunities to establish collaborative networks across borders. This will be achieved by using tools and techniques which will connect newsrooms with audiences, developing new business models and encouraging collaboration and innovation.

Summary:

The media industry in the region has been developing slowly and gradually, which has contributed to a lack of response to contemporary challenges such as the advertising collapse, fake news, digital innovation and other challenges.

Threat to free speech and democracy have grown, as populist governments took power in parts of Europe. Increasingly, these governments employ “media capture” tactics to control the press, abusing state administrative and regulatory competencies and creating a bias in the media market against independent outlets and artificially strengthening propaganda voices.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated disruptions in the media environment but has also pointed out a need for urgent innovation in the sector. Only by empowering journalists and media outlets can quality journalism be produced and public trust in media and democracy restored.

Citizens are also becoming more vulnerable to fake news and disinformation, which is why improving their engagement with independent media will help increase their resilience to harmful narratives and equip outlets with new and more creative content.

Researchers say news media within Europe have an urgent need for transition support infrastructure, to work with communities, media and journalists both to carry existing media through the digital transition and kick-start new media voices. Specifically, research has identified that the transition infrastructure existing in Europe is fragmented and narrowly focused. This means there is little sector- or continent-wide sense of all being in this together or frameworks for sharing. This is particularly true in Central and Eastern Europe, in countries under political pressure and in different language communities.

There is also a gap in representation of different communities in the media, such as youth, women, sexual or national minorities and other underrepresented groups, meaning there is a need to make journalism more inclusive and accessible to different communities. Only by inclusion of different communities can long-term goals of making newsrooms more resilient to contemporary challenges be achieved.

Considering these factors, the project Media Innovation Europe: Energizing the European Media Ecosystem will:

Support local media outlets in creating sustainable models of trusted journalism;

Grow the wealth of knowledge and experience that the International Press Institute , IPI, network offers;

Build a community of practice and support and learn from alumni and project participants;

Build new and engaging ways to interact with audiences;

Build diversified revenue models that allow media companies to be sustainable and independent;

Pivot business and technology to remain relevant and meet long-term goals;

Support news media to better serve existing audiences and increase trust in media.

Donor:

European Union

Main objectives:

1: Implementation of engaged citizen reporting and the B-engaged tool, which will enable newsrooms to crowdsource information from citizens for the production of stories of local importance and content that attract new and diverse audiences, including women, young people and marginalized groups, so strengthening relationships of trust between news media and audiences.

2: Level up the business capacities of middle-sized, regional and local print and online media outlets that need strategic guidance to set a path towards business viability.

3: Organise two three-day focused creative media events aimed at establishing cross-border and cross-company ties in the media sector and generating and developing new ideas and innovative solutions into working models and/or prototypes for the pan-European media market.

4: Mentorship will build lasting systemic cooperation, regional networks, journalism partnerships and collaborations, journalism viability and competitiveness.

5: Accelerate media outlets’ digital transition of journalism, products, business models or revenues (or a combination of these) to become viable and competitive.

 

 Main Activities:

  1. Transition Accelerator

1.1. Accelerator Bootcamp

1.2. Online training

1.3. Online content production – promotion

1.4. Structured learning

1.5. 1:1 Coaching

2. Deep Dive Business Consultancies

2.1. Business strategies’ implementation

2.2. Evaluation of results and impact

2.3. Tailored business-mentoring program

2.4. Development of business roadmaps

3. Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants

3.1. Online training and mentoring

3.2. Implementation of B-engaged tool and engagement journalism

3.4. Upgrade of B-engaged tool

3.5. Promotion

4. Hackathon

4.1. Organisation of Hackathon

4.2. Promotion

4.3. Reporting

Target Groups:

Media outlets and journalists from Balkans and Visegrad countries.

Main Implementer:
International Press Institute (IPI).

Partners: 
Thomson Foundation and Media Development Foundation.

 

Tirana Internet Freedom Meet Hosts Journalists and Activists From Region

BIRN Hub held a working conference in Tirana on September 24-28 for activists and journalists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia focusing on digital rights challenges.

The event, designed to both inspire and raise the capacities of participants in current digital rights challenges and kick-start new partnerships brought together over 30 participants. Sessions focused on three major pillars – experiences of vulnerable communities in the digital landscape; capacity building on current topics; and team-work and joint activity planning to counter the growing abuse of new technologies and improve the regional tech eco-system.

The first session, a panel discussion entitled “Black Mirror: Who are the people (ab) using the Internet to violate human rights?” brought together regional Digital Rights Monitors working on documenting digital rights violations on the BIRD Monitoring Database in an attempt to “reverse-engineer” the process of committing digital rights violations and provide a profile of the perpetrators.

This was followed by another panel, “Making it real: How online violence against LGBT groups leads to offline Violence”, focusing on human rights violations against the LGBT community taking place online, and their implications and consequences in the real world, especially having in mind the latest violence seen during Belgrade EuroPride. The speakers were Ana Petrović (Da se Zna, Serbia), Elena Gagovska (independent journalist, North Macedonia), Xheni Karaj (Aleanca LGBT, Albania) and Branko Ćulibrk (KVART, Bosnia and Herzegovina). Both panels were moderated by Matteo Mastracci, Digital Rights Researcher at BIRN Hub.

On day two, Gilbert Beyamba from Pollicy (Uganda) presented the Feminist Principles of the Internet and a Ugandan perspective on fighting for women’s rights. The day ended with a remote knowledge-transfer session held by Carlos Antonio Guerra Merlo (Internews) focused on data protection.

The third day kicked off with Mila Bajić, from SHARE Foundation, presenting their Cybersecurity Toolkit. It continued with a panel discussion about the regional research of corporate accountability of telecoms, carried out in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia using the methodology developed by Ranking Digital Rights. The session hosted the people conducting the research: Gjergj Erebara (Albania), Matteo Mastracci (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Bojan Stojkovski (North Macedonia), Xhorxhina Bami (Kosovo) and Tijana Uzelac (Serbia) and was moderated by Besar Likmeta from BIRN Albania. Leandro Ucciferi, Global Partnerships Manager at Ranking Digital Right, provided the introduction to the session.

Day 4 of the Tirana Internet Freedom Meet was more topic-focused and centred around issues of privacy. Lucie Audibert, from Privacy International, provided insight into the work and experiences from PI regarding this issue. After the session, the participants visited the infamous House of Leaves, once the headquarters of the Gestapo and later of the Sigurimi, the Communist-era Albanian secret police, and now a museum. The last session of the day was focused on Artificial Intelligence and on cases of its misuse in Latin America. This was held by Michel Souza from Derechos Digitales.

The final day of Tirana Internet Freedom Meet was focused on the activities of the South-East Europe Digital Rights Network, a regional coalition of CSOs working on improving the digital rights landscape.

The Tirana Internet Freedom Meet is a part the Greater Internet Freedom (GIF) project, funded by USAID and implemented by Internews and its regional and local partners.

 

 

 

 

Call for Applications for BIRN Internship Programme

BIRN is offering a three-month internship programme for students from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia who are interested in investigative reporting.

As part of its Investigative Reporting Initiative programme, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network is looking for five journalism students who would like to learn from dedicated journalists and editors in a course of three months.

The programme will provide the successful candidates with a theoretical foundation, followed by systematic but very practical investigative work. The students will receive online training from experienced journalists at the beginning of the programme and spend the rest of the internship working on investigative stories, while receiving support to understand and learn about the most relevant procedures.

BIRN is offering the five placements to applicants from six Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. You can work from home or from your newsroom, as the programme is due to take place online.

Who can apply?

Journalism students from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

How to apply?

Applicants should submit the following documents to [email protected] in English before September 21, at midnight Central European Time:

  • Applicant’s CV (in English)
  • Motivation letter (in English)
  • Work sample (translated into English; school assignments are eligible)
  • Evidence of status (in English or local language)

The motivation letter should show how you expect to benefit from the programme and your motivation for participating.

Applicants who do not have any published work can submit their student assignments from practical courses in journalism.

Applicants should provide evidence of their current situation. This evidence should include, but not be limited to, confirmation of enrolment at university.

Language:

All applications must be submitted in English; proof of status may be in local languages.

The programme’s working language will be English, so advanced knowledge of the English language is required.

DURATION OF INTERNSHIP: October 1, 2022 to December 23, 2022.

DEADLINE: September 21, 2022 at midnight Central European Time.

 

 

BIRN Hit by Cyber-Attacks After Turkish Fraudster Investigation

BIRN’s Balkan Insight website was buffeted by hacker attacks for two days after the publication of an investigation into how a Turkish businessman bought his way to honorary Greek citizenship.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and its Greek partner media outlet Solomon’s websites came under DDoS attack by hackers from early Saturday morning onwards in the wake of the publication of an investigation into a controversial Turkish businessman.

The attack began on Saturday morning and continued into Sunday. BIRN’s server was not compromised but at one point, BIRN’s flagship Balkan Insight website was completely inaccessible.

“The attack started on Saturday at 7.30am. That’s when the alarms went off, and around eight we had already started to react. It was a fierce battle, I never experienced a fight like that,” said an IT security expert.

“At one point on Saturday, we had 35 million different IP connections from all over the world.  The site was brought down by the number of connections,” explained.

BIRN’s technical experts determined that the attack was specifically aimed at bringing down the page on which the investigation into how a Turkish businessman who had been convicted of fraud bought his way to honorary Greek citizenship.

By Sunday evening, the attack had been repelled. But Solomon’s website remained under attack and was still offline on Monday morning.

Solomon, a Greek independent media outlet which worked with BIRN on the investigation, initially announced on Twitter on Saturday that it was experiencing difficulties because of a “massive DDoS attack on our site”.

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server, service or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of Internet traffic.

It is often used in attempts to target specific content published online and strike a blow at websites that need time to recover from such huge amounts of visits.

The investigation believed to have caused the DDoS attack looks at the case of Yasam Ayavefe, a Turkish businessman who was convicted of defrauding online gamblers in his home country in 2017 and arrested in Greece in 2019 while trying to cross the border into Bulgaria on a false Greek passport. He was later awarded honorary Greek citizenship.

The BIRN and Solomon investigation “examined how honorary citizenship, a state honour long reserved for those who have significantly promoted Greek culture, was turned into a golden visa scheme for those with deep pockets”, Solomon said in a Twitter post on Monday.

The investigative outlet Inside Story first broke the news in July, triggering a fierce debate over Ayavefe’s suitability for such an honour. Inside Story also came under DDoS attack after publishing its report on Ayavefe.