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.


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.

Meet the People Behind BIRN: Nejra Mulaomerović

Each month, BIRN introduces you to a different member of its team. For August, meet Nejra Mulaomerović, Programme Associate at the Balkan Transitional Justice Programme.

Nejra Mulaomerović studied Comparative Literature at the University of Sarajevo, where she is currently working on her master thesis on photography’s influence on 21st -century literature. She joined BIRN in 2020. In the past she worked at the culture and civil society sector, with a focus on photography exhibitions dealing with genocide, conflict and the aftermath of the 1992-5 war in Bosnia.

The Balkan Transitional Justice programme is BIRN’s regional platform that aims to improve the public’s understanding of transitional justice issues in former Yugoslav countries.

The programme also offers a database of issues related to war crimes, database of mass graves in the former Yugoslavia, consisting of individual reports and articles, audio reports and TV documentaries.

“We have seen how important the role of journalism is in conflict reporting and how it can help in documenting the atrocities and war crimes,” Nejra says.

Nejra today tells us about BIRN’s new oral history project “Eyewitness Ukraine”, in which Ukrainian media workers, men and women, speak about their lives and jobs while reporting the war.

Let’s meet her!

  1. When did you join BIRN? What do you like most in your job, and what is the most challenging thing?

I joined BIRN in 2020 at the start of the pandemic. It was a challenging time, but energy and BIRN community helped me a lot to feel welcomed and included. Since then I’ve met a lot of hardworking and creative people from the region that share the same values and fight for the same cause, and that is to bring the truth to the forefront.

  1. BIRN has developed a new project called Eyewitness Ukraine. Would you like to tell us more about it? Why has BIRN decided to create this project?

The Balkan Transitional Justice programme is a regional platform that aims to improve the public’s understanding of transitional justice issues in former Yugoslav countries. The programme also offers a database of issues related to war crimes, database of mass graves in the former Yugoslavia, consisting of individual reports and articles, audio reports and TV documentaries. The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina ended almost 30 years ago, but the survivors and activists continue to fight against the revision of war crimes and genocide denial even today. We have seen how important the role of journalism is in conflict reporting and how it can help in documenting atrocities and war crimes. The testimonies of journalists recorded for BIRN’s Eyewitness Ukraine oral history project represent a permanent historical record of how the war was experienced by media workers, as it happened. From the physical dangers of covering an armed conflict to the psychological impact of reporting on the invasion of one’s own country, this series of video interviews with Ukrainian journalists offers an important insight into how their work and personal lives were affected by the war.

  1. Ukrainian journalists speak about their lives and jobs while reporting the war. Can you select one story or more that have struck most?

Watching these journalists speak about their experience, you’ll see many similarities in their everyday struggles. Most of them don’t have any personal lives; their work has become their life. And then there’s the constant possibility that they or someone they work with can be killed or abducted by the Russian military. What is important is that many of the journalists pointed out that for them the war did not start in February 2022 but in February 2014. For eight years they were living in perpetual state of war, only in February it escalated and was brought to the attention of the rest of the world.

  1. What are Balkan Transitional Justice programme’s plans for the future?

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

BIRN initiated development of the museum’s methodology, mission and strategy in order to create a regional institution for learning, documenting and interpreting war in the former Yugoslavia. Furthermore, one of the museum’s missions will be to accentuate the contemporary challenges of journalism in the region and worldwide.

Besides the exhibition space, the museum will also provide a community space for journalists to gather and discuss the critical issues facing the societies of South-East and Central Europe, exchanging ideas with experts from outside the region about the development of quality journalism and investigative reporting, and the role of media in conflict and conflict prevention.

With this model BIRN wants to enhance discussion around the role of media in conflict and peace, especially in circumstances when propaganda and disinformation spread and has worrying and polarising effects on societies. BIRN will work on the development of an inclusive education museum programme that advocates a holistic and integrative approach to the topics of transitional justice, memorialization, and war reporting. The museum’s permanent and temporary exhibitions will serve as a foundation to build up workshops and activities aiming at advancing the knowledge on conflict prevention.


Grantees Praise Benefits of BIRN-Led ‘Engaged Citizens Reporting’ Tool

Users of the BIRN reporting tool say it has transformed the way they communicate with their audiences who feel empowered by helping shape the content of their own media.

It is a new method in a new time of doing journalism,” Dorjana Daka, editor of Albanian newsportal Informimi, told BIRN, describing what the Engaged Citizens Reporting tool, ECR, has brought to her outlet.

The impact of the project led by Balkan Reporting Network BIRN on journalism in the region has been significant.

From December 2020, 51 media outlets from six Balkan countries used the tool to change the way they communicate with citizens, investigate stories and publish their findings.

“Through the project, we saw that citizens want concrete, direct, communication with journalists, they want to point out the problems they are facing, and they want someone to investigate them, since they can’t find solutions to their problems themselves,” Dinko Dundić, editor-in-chief of Sarajevo-based media Fokus, said.

Media outlets from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia, awarded with Media for All project grants, produced a total of more than 400 videos, articles, features, and podcasts, based on more than 200 surveys, polls, and questionnaires created with the Engaged Citizens Reporting tool, a platform designed by BIRN, enabling journalists to collect information, analyse data and incorporate it into their reporting.

As Dundić, noted, “this is not just a tool, this is a new way to communicate with citizens”.

Through ECR, media outlets strengthen bonds with their communities. Having established two-way communication, citizens become not only passive receivers of information but active content creators on topics that are their biggest interest and concerns.

“It was important that the tool targets a burning issue, something that is under the radar in the public and core media, and something that is not talked about enough but is bothering the population,” said Ivana Pavlović, editor of Nova ekonomija, a Belgrade-based news portal that engaged citizens in the under-reported topic of the cost of online schooling during the Covid pandemic.

Audiences shaped the content of media by providing original testimonies; precise information by uploading photos, videos, documents, or by giving their contacts for further research and collaboration.

“Readers gave us directions on where to look and where to ask; we got examples that were ‘juicy’,” Goran Mihajlovski, whose Skopje-based portal SDK gathered evidence of unresolved court cases from ordinary people, recalled.

The audience had the choice to stay anonymous, giving people a chance to speak out even if they weren’t comfortable with going public. This proved a successful way to reach out to marginalised and discriminated communities, guaranteeing their safety.

“There was a gap between this trust in really reporting about stories about the LGBTQ community and staying anonymous, because it’s still a quite sensitive topic in Albania. A platform like ECR helped to breach this gap, because it made sure this anonymity was preserved,” said Kevin Jasini, editor of Albanian news portal Historia Ime, which resolved a case of transphobia and discrimination thanks to a recording received through the ECR tool.

“It has direct impact on mobilizing communities to solve a problem, because we provide data … that they can rely on, and continue to seek their rights,” said Daka whose website Informimi investigated stories of the Roma community who often have no access to the internet, or trust in journalists.

Building trust is one of the main assets ECR has brought to media outlets, considering the negative aspects of the media environment in the region, with the surge in disinformation and general loss of confidence in democracy and institutions.

Users of the tool recognise that reporting about the issues of their greatest concern makes an impact in their local communities.

“Officials from Tivat municipality used the data we received using the ECR tool from citizens about cruise tourism strategy at an international meeting. They presented and referred to the results of the Boka News research,” Miroslav Marušić, editor-in-chief of a small Montenegrin media portal, said.

Through professional training and mentorship organised by BIRN, media practiced more effective engagement with their audiences.

Suzana Nikolikj, editor of Kumanovo News, from North Macedonia, praised the support of the mentoring.

“The mentor gave us guidance in preparing the questionnaire and guided us through the approach to our readers: how to create the questions, how to avoid pitfalls and how to filter the most important answers. The analysis of data for our stories was also helpful,” said Nikolikj.

ECR has the potential to expand in the region, since many outlets have continued to use the tool after the project grants finished, to further gather people’s opinions, data and information.

“We have continued, and will continue to use it, in future. There are enormous advantages: we can easily gather opinions on a large number of subjects, can easily see and select data, and then present this data to the public, graphically,” said Marija Vujović, journalist of portal Onogošt, which throughout the project used the tool to collect citizen’s photos and locations of pollution in Nikšić, Montenegro.

Positive reactions would seem to guarantee the sustainability of ECR in the future.

“Now we write far more about ordinary topics, human stories, and much less about politics,” Anđelka Ćup from Gračanica online from Kosovo, said. “We have become more professional – our approach to investigative journalism has improved,” Vujović agreed.



Open Call: Workshop for Visual Storytelling Using War Crime Archives

Young people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia are invited to apply for a workshop that offers an introduction to visual storytelling practices and the role of domestic and international courts’ war crime trial archives in the transitional justice process.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, will hold a two-day training course for ten (10) young journalists, students, activists and individuals aged 18 to 30 who want to contribute to reconciliation and memorialisation processes by exploring archives and using them for independent video storytelling.

Participants will also learn how to create a safe, non-partisan and compassionate space for victims to share their stories in a short video format. The workshop will be led by BIRN’s award-winning journalists and editors and will examine how to avoid producing stories that trivialise war crimes and victims’ experiences.

Upon successful completion of the workshop, participants will receive funding and mentorship.

The best five applicants will be selected for a one-month exchange programme in 2023 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. This unique opportunity will enable the participants to foster closer networks, learn more about different facets of the war, gain skills and do more research into courts’ archives.

After the workshop, participants will produce short video interviews with people who survived the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

Storytelling is crucial to the process of transitional justice; it has the power to highlight atrocities and hidden personal memories that can be used to encourage the further sharing of similar experiences, but also can help change the narrative on personal experiences of war trauma.

For victims of war crimes and atrocities, storytelling has a healing aspect, giving them a voice and recognising their experiences and traumas. Court archives represent a powerful tool that can be used in visual storytelling but also in general media reporting on justice issues.


Young journalists, students, and activists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia and Montenegro who are interested in addressing these questions. We particularly encourage young people from marginalised communities to apply. No previous experience is necessary. Applicants must be aged 18 to 30.


Submit your application (CV and motivation letter) in English to [email protected]


October 13-14, 2022 (two-day session)

WHERE: Sarajevo

LANGUAGE: The working language of the workshop is English

DEADLINE: September 12, at midnight Central European Time



BIRN Summer School Ends with Investigative Pitches

A week-long training programme in Portoroz ended with participants presenting their investigative story proposals to BIRN editors.

The 12th annual BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting ended on August 27with 30 participants from SEE, CE, Ukraine and Finland pitching their investigative story proposals to BIRN editors.

A total of 11 pitches were presented; some focus on country-based issues while the majority are of a cross-border nature. BIRN editors will choose the best pitches, whose owners will receive funding, editorial support and mentoring from BIRN.

Proposed stories look into environmental issues, corruption allegations, reproductive rights and the ongoing war in Ukraine, to name a few.

Ivana Nikolic, in charge of BIRN’s Investigative Reporting Initiative, thanked all the participants for their motivation and hard work during the past week and urged them to keep in touch and collaborate.

Summer School is not only about learning innovative skills and techniques; it is also about networking, making friends and finding partners for your next cross-border story,Nikolic said.

During the week, 30 participants selected from record-breaking 180 candidates learned about OSINT, database search, digital security, visual storytelling, and financial journalism from award-winning journalists from Germany, the UK, the US and the Balkans.

They also attended a panel discussion about war reporting, giving them a unique opportunity to hear different perspectives and experiences of journalists and filmmakers from Ukraine, Palestine and Serbia. More information about lectures and panels can be found here (https://birnsummerschool.org/)


BIRN’s 12th Annual Summer School Starts in Slovenia

For the 12th time, BIRN’s Summer School of Investigative Reporting is bringing together 30 journalists from South-East and Central European countries for a week-long training programme to develop skills, explore new techniques and start cross-border cooperations.

This year’s Summer School of Investigative Reporting started on Monday in the Slovenian town of Portoroz.

During the week-long programme, journalists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Finland and Ukraine will learn new skills and techniques and work on investigative stories.

The head of Regional Operations at BIRN, Dusica Stilic, welcomed the participants selected from a record-breaking number of applications – 180 this year.

“We are very proud to have this extraordinary group of people eager to learn to become the best version of an investigative journalist they possibly can be,” Stilic said.

Ivana Nikolic, leading the Investigative Reporting Initiative Programme at BIRN, presented the agenda and encouraged the participants to work towards pitching powerful stories.

“This week, you will learn a lot about innovative journalism techniques and skills from award-winning journalists and editors,” Nikolic said, adding that for the first time this year, participants will have the opportunity to learn how to stay safe online while working on their investigations.

Freelance coder and data specialist Friedrich Lindenberg gave an introduction to open data for investigations. Lindenberg has been working with investigative journalists and anti-corruption activists for the past decade and has built data-driven tools that support their work.

Lindenberg gave practical advice on effectively searching and cross-referencing open databases and using various tools to track documents.

“It’s important to remember that a search doesn’t make any document or information reliable and doesn’t take away the journalist’s responsibility,” he told the participants.

The first day ended with the journalists sharing ideas and starting to work on pitching cross-border investigative stories.

Open Call: Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants

Media outlets from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Serbia and Slovakia that want to engage the public in their investigative reporting are invited to apply for Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants.

BIRN is inviting media outlets interested in connecting with their audiences and reporting on original stories that will make an impact to apply for Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants.

Individual grants will be awarded to selected media outlets that wish to cover national/regional/local topics on their own. Collaborative grants will be awarded to selected media outlets that want to investigate cross-border issues with a media partner.

Audience-engaged reporting, in which ordinary people’s voices are heard and unresolved issues are tackled, has proven a game-changer. Using it helps media outlets to listen to these voices and report on essential topics for their communities while bringing innovation to their investigative reporting and newsrooms.

Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants support media outlets that want to engage their audiences in reporting by providing them with training and mentorship in engagement journalism and usage of the B-Engaged tool, developed by BIRN.

Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants are part of the Media Innovation Europe project managed by a consortium led by the Vienna-based International Press Institute. The consortium includes the Kyiv-based Media Development Foundation, the Berlin-based Thomson Foundation and BIRN.

Ten (10) successful applicants will receive grants based on this call.

BIRN will grant €4,000 to five (5) successful applicants interested in making an individual audience-engaged story.

BIRN will grant €5,000 to five (5) successful applicants interested in making a cross-border collaborative story.

If you already know a media partner with whom you want to work on a cross-border story, you will receive €10,000 to cover expenses for both partners involved. If you are interested in investigating a cross-border story but don’t have a partner, BIRN can find you a matching media outlet.

Content may include news, analysis, investigations etc, and can be in any form – text, audio, video. The content must be promoted through the outlets’ social media channels.

The selected grantees will undergo a four-day training programme that will be offered online, as well as on-the-job mentoring by BIRN editors on how to use and implement innovative, effective audience-engagement tools for investigative community-based reporting.

The participating media will receive training in the use of the B-Engaged tool, developed by BIRN, an online tool that enables the direct engagement of members of the public who are interested in sharing information and evidence related to issues they are facing.

Through training and mentoring, media outlets will also learn: how to select engaging topics; what is important to the audience; how to develop a callout; how to analyse crowdsourced data; how to incorporate data in stories, and how to shape a story according to engagement journalism standards.

The call is open until October 28, 2022 at midnight CET.

To read the full call for application click here.

To apply for a grant, use the online application form and send us a proposal for a story and the required documents.

You can register for the info session on September 15, 2022 via this link.

Follow BIRN on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to get more notifications.



Ukrainian Journalists Urge International Media to Combat Russian Propaganda during Launch of BIRN’s Eyewitness Ukraine Project

At the launch of BIRN’s new video project Ukrainian journalists call for international media to keep covering the country’s Russian invasion and combat the Russian propaganda, while they are on the ground verifying the information and simultaneously trying to save their families.

During the launch of BIRN’s new video project, Eyewitness Ukraine, on Thursday, Ukrainian journalists and representatives of international and national organizations, called on international media to contribute in fighting against the Russian propaganda on the invasion of Ukraine while explaining their efforts to verify the information on the ground and obstacles in gathering evidence of war crimes.

“European journalists should reach out to cover reality, to keep the focus on Ukraine and the larger are the chances for us to win,” Alya Shandra editor-in-chief of Ukrainian and English-language outlet Euromaidan Press, said.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been followed by constant propaganda and disinformation war, which has been proven very difficult for journalists on the ground who are fighting to combat it by verifying everything in its source. However, they are also in danger for their and their families’ lives due to often being a target by the Russian military despite being press representatives.

The war in Ukraine has already proved deadly for journalists. At least 12 media workers have been killed while covering the conflict so far, and many more have been injured, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

There is evidence that one of them, photojournalist Maks Levin, was executed by Russian forces, media freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders has claimed.

“Thirty eight journalists have been killed (since February 24, 2022) including those on the field (while reporting), those that enlisted as soldiers, and those that were killed during shelling of their cities,” said Ukrainian journalist Lina Kushch, who is also the secretary of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine and coordinates the work of 24 regional offices with more than 18,000 members.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network launched its Eyewitness Ukraine project on Thursday – a new webpage featuring interviews with Ukrainian journalists speaking about their personal experiences of living and working through the Russian invasion of their country.

The Ukrainian journalists are facing constant struggles, including what they had not considered at first.

Angelina Kariakina, the head of news at the Ukrainian Public Broadcaster, said there are many “the journalists on the ground are verifying information but you need an entire car of supplies… like going in a forest”.

Kariakina says they often look “through Russian propagandastic channels and media” as a source of information to identify prisoners of war.

“They have these videos of hundreds of people in prisons, and you can see a familiar face,” she says explaining that “around 7000 people went missing during this war”.

Shandra, who has had to deal with “wanting to cover the war but had to leave to evacuate my children,” calls on international media not to use the recordings being made of prisoners of war saying that “Defenders of Mariupol (were taken prisoners) and they were recorded admitting their crimes”.

Ukrainian journalists are trying to gather as many evidence of war crimes as possible, in close collaboration with the prosecution and legal experts, to prepare cases when the time comes for the crimes to be tried in courts. However, this has been also rather difficult, especially in occupied areas.

As Kariakina explains, the journalists are dependent on information from the citizens in occupied areas who could only provide it if they manage to leave. The only way of leaving, she says, is through Russia and they can only return and provide information if they have enough resources.

Maja Sever, the president of the European Federation of Journalists, EFJ, said that she is “amazed that journalists in Ukraine have the will to fight for the truth,” considering they are in the most difficult situation a journalist can be.

As the war continues, BIRN will add more interviews to the Eyewitness Ukraine webpage to give more insights into how media workers are dealing with the ongoing stress of living through months of conflict while continuing to do their jobs.