Applications Wanted for EU Investigative Journalism Award in Serbia

Applications are being invited for the Serbian part of the EU Investigative Journalism Awards in the Western Balkans and Turkey, which is being administered by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN Hub) and local partners.

Investigative stories published in Serbia from January 1 to December 31, 2019, and related to freedom of expression, the rule of law, transparency, abuse of power and fundamental rights, corruption and organised crime can be accepted.

The award fund in Serbia in 2020 (for achievements in 2019) is 10,000 euros. The first prize will be 5,000 euros, the second 3,000 euros, and the third 2,000 euros.

Individuals or groups of journalists are eligible to apply with work published in all journalistic formats (print, online, radio and TV) in official, minority or international languages.

Articles eligible for submission must have appeared in print, online, radio and TV media outlets in Serbia during the 2019 calendar year.

EU Investigative Journalism Awards in the Western Balkans and Turkey aim to celebrate and promote the outstanding achievements of investigative journalists as well as improve the visibility of quality journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

The awards are a continuation of the ongoing regional EU Investigative Journalism Award in the Western Balkans and Turkey and part of the ongoing project ‘Strengthening Quality News and Independent Journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey’, funded by the European Union.

The project partners involved all have extensive expertise in the field of media freedom and have been recognised locally and internationally as strong independent media organisations.

The jury for the EU Investigative Journalism Award comprises media experts, some of them from the project consortia. Others are drawn from the extensive network projects that consortium members have, such as editors and academics.

The awards are presented annually in all six Western Balkan countries and Turkey.

Read about the winners of the last year’s competition and their stories here.

For more information, please get in contact by email at euawards@birn.eu.com. All the details and guidelines for Serbia can be found below this article.

The deadline for applications is June 21, 2020.


To download all necessary documents in Serbian click here.

Fellowship for Journalistic Exellence

BIRN Hub

Fellows’ stories are published by BIRN’s Balkan Insight and
Reporting Democracy platforms and disseminated widely through our network of media partners in all local languages as well as in
English and German.

Summary

Fellowship for Journalistic Exellence provides financial means and editorial mentoring to journalists in order to produce cross-border long form articles with regional relevance.

As of 2020 programme is expanded to journalists from Visegrad countries, in addition to journalists from the Balkans where this flagship initiative exists since 2007. It is keeping the key elements of the previous Balkan Fellowhip for Journalistic Excellence concept (initial seminar, mentoring support, editorial sessions promotion and publishing), which has been globally recognized as a highly successful media development programme.

Each year, 10 journalists are chosen through open competition to receive a €3,000 bursary, close editorial supervision and mentoring, and the chance to attend international career development seminars and be published in the most influential regional and international media. In addition, the top three articles chosen by an international jury will receive awards.

Fellows’ stories are published by BIRN’s Balkan Insight and Reporting Democracy platforms and disseminated widely through our network of media partners in all local languages as well as in English and German.

After the successful completion of the programme fellows are becoming part of the Alumni network of  journalists across the region committed to excellence in their profession.

Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence now covers 14 countries. In addition to the Central European nations above, we still welcome applications from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Greece and Serbia.


Donor

ERSTE Foundation

Main Objective

To foster quality reporting and create a strong alumni network devoted to promoting standards of excellence in journalisam across the region.


Specific Objectives

  • To produce 10 investigative or analytical articles with regional relevance
  • To raise professional capacities of journalists participating in the programme
  • To promote journalists and their work, securing public recognition for excellence in journalisam
  • To strengthen the existing alumni network


Main Activities

  • Training and mentoring for journalists
  • Research, production and publishing of quality content
  • Strengthening regional network of journalists
  • Promotion of programme findings through dissemination of articles through the network of media partners

Target Groups

Journalists


Main Implementer

BIRN Hub


Partners

Erste Foundation

Paper Trail to Better Governance III

BIRN Hub

Exposing wrongdoings of public institutions, public or private companies, and individuals, through multimedia investigations, in-depth analysis of institutions’ openness to freedom of information requests, and the establishment of an online database.

Summary

The Paper Trail for Better Governance is a project by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – BIRN Kosovo and BIRN HUB – to promote the rule of law, accountability, and transparency in the Balkans.

It is the continuation of the Paper Trail for Better Governance I and II.


Donor

Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of the Austrian Development Cooperation

Main Objective

The Project is expected to contribute to better functioning of the public sector that abides by the principles of transparency and accountability to its citizens. This is expected to happen, on the one hand, by exerting direct pressure to key public institutions through exposing wrongdoings and their level of transparency practices in relation to FoI laws and on the other hand, by exerting indirect public pressure to key public institutions through raising awareness of the broader public about mismanagement of public resources and competencies.


Specific Objectives

Exposing wrongdoings of public institutions, public or private companies, and individuals, through multimedia investigations, in-depth analysis of institutions’ openness to freedom of information requests, and the establishment of an online database.


Main Activities

  1. Journalistic trainings, including on gender equality, internships for young journalists in BIRN offices.
  2. Production of 25 investigations, interviews, analysis and news pieces on cross-border and country-based issues, as well as video production.
  3. Production of Annual Regional Reviews on freedom of information.
  4. Upgrade and further development of the BIRN’s Investigative Resource Desk (BIRD)

Target Groups

The main target groups are male and female investigative journalists as well as young journalists, researchers, media outlets and the general public that will be exposed to published material resulting from investigative reporting, monitoring of public institutions compliance with legislation and annual review reports published.

Highlights

More than 200 journalists have been trained in investigative skills and given special, in-depth knowledge of the particular field they are researching. Through the extensive use of public documents, the investigations are exposing wrongdoing in government and public and private companies and among powerful individuals.

The project also addresses the transparency of public institutions in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

As part of our drive to promote open data governance, earlier this year we established BIRN’s Investigative Resource Desk (BIRD), a digital platform with tools stimulating cross-border cooperation among journalists, civil society and technology experts. The platform serves as a hub for all BIRN data gathered through investigative journalistic work. BIRD also includes BIRN Source, a database which currently has close to one million searchable public documents uploaded and available for further use.


Main Implementer

BIRN Kosovo


Partners

BIRN Hub

Journalists selected for 2020 Fellowship

We are pleased to announce the names of the journalists chosen for this year’s Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence. Over the coming months, they will work on investigations, in-depth analysis and features on the theme of the Rule of Law.

The Fellowship programme gives mid-career journalists the funding and editorial support to dig into complex issues of regional significance. Here are this year’s fellows, and the topics they intend to cover.

Klodiana Lala, a criminal justice reporter with decades of experience across print and TV outlets in Albania, will examine the evolution of the Albanian underworld.

Genka Shikerova and Boris Mitov, award-winning Bulgarian investigative journalists, will look at the emergence of the country’s so-called “border militias”.

Apostolis Fotiadis, a Greek journalist who has reported extensively on the migrant crisis, will examine the growing tensions around Greece’s migrant camps.

Elvira Krithari, a journalist for Greek media start-up MIIR plans to write about privatised healthcare providers in Greece.

Augustine Zenakos and Mariniki Alevizopoulou, Greek journalists with a track record of freelance initiatives and bylines for the international press, will report on marginalised communities in Greece’s border regions.

Bea Bako, a constitutional lawyer and journalist from Hungary, will report on tensions between the Hungarian government and the European Union.

Dariusz Kalan, an experienced freelance journalist from Poland, will report on the erosion of the rule of law under the current government.

Jakub Janiszewski, an experienced journalist and commentator focusing on politics, culture and gender issues, will examine Poland’s shifting attitudes to homosexuality.

Magdalena Chodowmik, a freelance text and video journalist, will tell the story of the winners and losers in Poland’s transition from communism.

Marija Vucic, a journalist with the Serbian investigative website, KRIK, will look at the spread of propaganda and fake news in the Balkans.

This year’s participants were competitively selected from about 80 applications spanning 14 countries of CEE region. An independent committee comprising seven senior European media figures evaluated proposals based on relevance, feasibility and originality, as well as the candidates’ professional qualifications and motivation.

The Fellows’ stories will be published by BIRN’s Balkan Insight and Reporting Democracy platforms and disseminated widely through our network of media partners in all local languages, as well as in English and German.

We look forward to starting work on these projects. We would also like to thank all journalists who applied for the Fellowship and to announce that the next call will be open in early 2021.

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 citizens with a more diverse range of content, thus encouraging open, informed and active discussion amongst audiences in the six Western Balkans countries.

Summary

Supporting Greater Media Independence in the Western Balkans 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

FCO – CSSF

Main Objective

The project’s overall vision is to enable a positive shift in citizens’ engagement with independent media in the Western Balkans.


Specific Objectives

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


Main Activities

The implementation of the Engaged Citizens Reporting (ECR) concept with the aim of enabling the production of quality, relevant, gender-sensitive content, which includes, inter alia, more diverse, representative (of different citizens/groups), gender-sensitive, conflict-sensitive, more informative, more scrutinised, facts-based content as well as encompassing standards such as the right to reply.

Training of young journalists with the aim to provide them with intensive learning and editorial support and mentoring in the field of investigative and quality journalism.

Series of legal, technical and organisational assistance and support, to strengthen the media and journalists of WB6 countries, help them become more professional, independent and effective in performing their duties. Only such empowered journalists and media can strive for quality journalism and restore public trust.

Target Groups

Local media outlets and journalists in the Western Balkan countries


Main Implementer

The British Council


Partners

Thomson Foundation, INTRAC.

Emergency Appeal for Journalism and Media Support in Response to the Covid-19 Crisis

To mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, BIRN joined more than 125 journalism support, media development, and press freedom organisations and networks making an emergency appeal for action, support, and assistance to journalism organisations and independent media during the COVID-19 crisis.

Millions of people around the world are looking for reliable, fact-based journalism that can help them navigate the biggest shared challenge of our lifetime.

But at this crucial moment, independent media are facing an unprecedented existential challenge. With the perfect storm of disinformation and misinformation, repression of critical voices in many countries, and disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the situation facing journalism and news media is dire. Revenues for these institutions are collapsing, and funding is decreasing just when we need it most.

The consequences will be felt globally, but the information crisis and the health crisis is certain to be most acute in resource-poor communities.

In response to these huge challenges we – the press freedom, media development, and journalism support communities, including BIRN – launch this ‘Emergency Appeal for Journalism and Media Support calling for bold and robust action from six groups: governments; journalism and media development donors and funders; journalism and media organisations; technology, telecommunication companies, and Internet intermediaries; advertisers; and audiences.

– Governments are asked to respect the rights of press freedom, rule of law, digital rights, access to information, and freedom of expression. States are asked to work with journalism and media associations to assess the damage that COVID-19 is inflicting on critical public-interest reporting and the sustainability of news organisations. They are asked to devise appropriate mechanisms to urgently provide financial support to public-interest journalism through a variety of means while ensuring that any interventions are just and transparent and do not undermine editorial independence or distort the market place. Governments are also asked to, where appropriate, designate journalists and media workers as ‘key’ or ‘essential workers’, and be responsive to the demands of the press freedom community, including calls to release imprisoned journalists.

– Journalism and media development donors and funders are asked to immediately expedite, increase, and scale-up journalism support; coordinate and pool emergency resources; establish an emergency fund to help public-interest media survive; as well as allocate substantial resources to address journalism’s longer-term sustainability problems.

– Journalism and media organisations are asked to find innovative ways to serve their audiences and fight disinformation and misinformation; protect jobs; show a duty of care to those they employ, both physically in terms of equipment and training, and in terms of their working conditions and mental health. Media are asked to pool resources and collaborate whenever possible, as well as ensure that they serve all sections of their communities.

– Technology, telecommunication companies, and Internet intermediaries are asked to create free and safe digital spaces for journalists and professional media to operate online; ensure algorithms recognise, promote, and reward credible, independent, trustworthy journalism; responsibly manage the use of blacklist technology, and prevent automated takedowns of journalistic content related to COVID-19; increase and expedite funding of independent public-interest journalism, fact-checking, and other measures to counter disinformation and misinformation; take stronger action against malicious actors; lower the cost of Internet connectivity, especially in emerging and developing markets to aid access to information; and finally, step up efforts to respect fundamental human rights online.

– Advertisers are asked to stop blacklisting journalistic content related to COVID-19 pandemic and other critical health and social issues online; review how they measure engagement and impact; and use existing mechanisms to advertise through trusted media to build long-term reputations.

– Audiences: And finally, to people everywhere who read, watch, and listen to trusted news services – large and small, local and international, print, digital, or broadcast: journalism is with you during these troubling times. If you have the means, please find ways to support the journalism that you and your community relies on.

GFMD’s Executive Director, Mira Milosevic, says:

“We call on supporters of free and pluralistic media to join our appeal so we can help journalism survive this crisis and continue to play its vital role in communities the world over. The solidarity, innovation and collaboration that we are seeing during this crisis must outlive this emergency and help us address the long-term sustainability and press freedom issues facing journalism around the world.”

For the full list of signatories visit the full statement on the GFMD website.

To request interviews please contact: jhiggins@gfmd.info

Sign the Emergency Appeal for Journalism and Media Support

BIRN Wins Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Award

To mark World Press Freedom Day on Sunday, campaign group Reporters Without Borders Austria awarded the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network with its annual Press Freedom Award – A Signal for Europe.

The Vienna office of the Reporters Without Borders announced that the BIRN Network has been awarded for its courageous investigative journalism in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, and for its dedication to the fight for human rights, democracy and justice for the victims of war crimes.

The award also honours BIRN’s founder, Gordana Igric, who served as the organisation’s regional director until May 2018, for her pioneering work in establishing the network.

“We are honoured by this acknowledgment from our Austrian colleagues. It comes at a critical time for our region, where media are often hampered by political or business influences and lack the resources to report beyond their own country’s borders,” said BIRN’s network director, Marija Ristic.

“The award gives us more motivation to continue with our uncompromising reporting despite continuous attacks on our journalists,” Ristic added.

“We are also thankful for the honour given to our founder, Gordana Igric, who had a vision of a free regional media network and paved the way for a new generation of journalists and editors who continue to champion the values of human rights and democracy,” she said.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network was established in 2004 as a network of organisations across the Balkans promoting freedom of speech, human rights and democratic values.

BIRN has country-based organisations in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia. It also works editorially in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine.

BIRN’s structure has the advantage of combining local expertise with unique regional cooperation.

The Press Freedom Award – A Signal for Europe is given every year by the Austrian branch of Reporters Without Borders, a leading international non-profit and non-governmental organisation that safeguards the right to freedom of information. Its mandate is to promote free, independent and pluralistic journalism and to defend media workers.

Nejra Mulaomerovic

Based in Sarajevo, Nejra is working closely with project coordinator teams, carrying out and assisting in the implementation of programmes across all of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network’s platforms.

Before joining BIRN, she worked in the Gallery 11/07/95 and the museum sector for five years, focusing on improving cultural development and programming within the projects on memorialisation, the culture of remembrance and promotion of human rights.

Nejra is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow – a programme that explores issues of democracy, pluralism, human rights, and social justice and brings together international groups of college students and recent graduates to explore national histories of discrimination and resistance.

She graduated from the University of Sarajevo with a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature. She is currently working on a master thesis in the same department.

Nejra speaks Bosnian, English and Italian.

Tech Giants Urged to Preserve Blocked Content About Virus

More than 70 organisations, including BIRN, have signed a letter urging tech companies to preserve all data on content removed in the pandemic, as it’s important for future research.

A total of 75 signatories, including Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, have signed a letter asking social media and content-sharing platforms to preserve all data they’ve blocked or removed during the coronavirus pandemic and make it public for researchers and journalists in the future.

“We understand that many platforms have increased their reliance on automated content moderation during the pandemic, while simultaneously removing misinformation and apparently inaccurate information about COVID-19 at an unprecedented rate,” the letter, published on Wednesday, says.

However, the signatories argue that this data will be of great importance to researchers, journalists as well as people working in public health.

“This is also an unprecedented opportunity to study how online information flows ultimately affect health outcomes, and to evaluate the macro- and micro-level consequences of relying on automation to moderate content in a complex and evolving information environment,” the letter reads.

The signatories ask companies to preserve all data on content removal including but not limited to information about which takedowns did not receive human reviews, whether users tried to appeal takedowns as well as reports that were not acted upon.

They also ask companies to produce transparency reports with information about content blocking and removal related to the novel coronavirus as well as to allow researchers and journalists to access this data, recognizing that privacy will need to be ensured.

“It will be crucial to develop safeguards to address the privacy issues raised by new or longer data retention and by the sharing of information with third parties, but the need for immediate preservation is urgent,” the letter further reads.

The letter will be sent to social media giants and companies including Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, Wikimedia, Reddit, Vimeo, Verizon Media and Microsoft.

Apart from BIRN, other organisations that signed the letter included the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, Syrian Archive, PEN America and others.

Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak started, a lot of information about the virus has spread online, including potential disinformation, fake news and conspiracy theories.

In a bid to curb this disinformation, many social media outlets have started deleting such content. At the end of March, for example, Facebook deleted a video from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in which he claimed that hydroxychloroquine was effective in treating the COVID-19.

Twitter also deleted a tweet about a homemade treatment by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, while YouTube banned conspiracy theory videos linking COVID-19 symptoms to 5G networks.

Coronavirus Story Grants

Reporting Democracy is inviting proposals for stories that reveal how the Covid-19 crisis is reshaping politics and society in Central, Eastern and Southeast Europe. Successful proposals will receive a grant of between 500 and 2,500 euros.

No aspect of life has been left untouched by the pandemic. The world as we know it – beyond our windows and our screens – has been transformed. We invite journalists to look among the many stories going untold at the moment. Can you spot an in-depth feature out there, waiting to be written? Can you produce an original analysis that will explain what is really happening behind the scenes?

APPLICATION FORM

When pitching your story, you may also want to consider what the response to the pandemic has revealed about the nature of power in your country. How has the crisis deepened inequality and placed further strain on democracies in the region? What has been the impact on human rights and the rule of law? Can we draw any hope from the actions taken by certain people and institutions during this crisis?

If you have interesting ideas for addressing the political and social consequences of the crisis through your journalism, please apply for a story grant. As well as in-depth features and analytical stories, we are also open to commissioning a couple of investigations or story series.

The call is open to freelance and staff journalists from the Visegrad Four countries of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, as well as the Balkan countries of Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, North Macedonia and Greece.

Applications are limited to one per journalist. Successful candidates will be informed within two weeks of the submission of their applications. Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis every fortnight, with applications open until further notice. The first review will take place on May 15, 2020.

Reporting Democracy will provide editorial support, and a platform for publishing and distributing the stories.