BIRN Kosovo Participates in Environmental Journalism Awards

BIRN Kosovo was one of four organisations that implemented the ‘Europeanisation of Kosovo’s Environmental Agenda’ project, which has awarded journalists in Kosovo for the best stories about the environment, energy efficiency and climate change.

TV Mreza, ERA Group and Bankwatch were also involved in implementing the project, which is supported by the European Union Office in Kosovo.

The winning stories were chosen by Kreshnik Gashi, Dajana Berisha and Mustafa Skenderi from a total of 22 entries, all broadcast on TV or published in online media. See more details here.

First prize was given to a story by a journalist from Preport, Besnik Boletini, awarded for his documentary ‘Extraction Industry’.

The investigation revealed the damage caused to the environment by the extraction industry. Thousands of hectares of river bed have been damaged by operators extracting sand and gravel. Many hills, mountains and rivers have been affected by gravel exploiters, leaving the sites in total devastation. The story can be found here.

Sanie Jusufi from the Koha Group was awarded second prize for her investigation titled ‘Farewell River’.

The story addresses concerns over construction permits issued by the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning for hydropower plants, in violation of existing procedural rules and regulations.

The ministry, in violation of the criteria set out by these rules, permitted the construction of the plants, causing environmental degradation and leaving the many residents of Lower Bitija in the municipality of Sterpce without any water. The story can be found here.

Third prize was given to Katarina Marinkovic and Sanja Djokic from Media Centar for their TV report on environmental pollution in the municipality of Kllokot.

Their story addresses one of the most urgent environmental issues in Kllokot – the pollution of the river Morava of Binca, and the obstruction of its water flow as a result of waste being dumped in the river.

The story investigates the issues faced by residents of Kllokot, which are caused fellow locals who regard the river as a landfill, as well as municipal officials, who have failed to take adequate measures to protect it. The story can be found here.

Similar prizes will be awarded for stories published in 2020.


Ndahen çmimet gazetareske për hulumtimet më të mira në fushën e mjedisit

Juria profesionale i ka bërë publike vlerësimet për gazetarët në kuadër të thirrjes për tri hulumtimet më të mira në efiçiencë të energjisë, mjedis dhe ndryshime klimatike.

Për çmimin i cili ndahet në kuadër të projektit  “Europeanization of Kosovo’s Environmental Agenda”, në garë kanë qenë 22 storie të publikuara në televizione dhe media online gjatë vitit 2019.

Juria në përbërje Kreshnik Gashi, Dajana Berisha dhe Mustafa Skenderi kanë vlerësuar me çmimin e parë hulumtimin e gazetarit të Preport, Besnik Boletini. Çmimi I dytë është ndarë për hulumtimin e gazetares së grupit Koha, Sanie Jusufi, ndërsa çmimi i tretë është ndarë për gazetaret e Media Centar, Katarina Marinković dhe Sanja Đokić.

Hulumtimet e vlerësuara

Çmimi për gazetarin Besnik Boletini është ndarë për hulumtimin dokumentar  “Industrisë së Shkatërrimit”.

Hulumtimi paraqet dëmet që i janë bërë mjedisit nga industria nxjerrëse. Mijëra hektarë shtretër lumi janë dëmtuar nga operatorët ndërsa nxjerrin rërë dhe zhavorr. Shumë kodra, male dhe lumenj janë degraduar nga shfrytëzuesit e zhavorrit të cilët kanë lënë ato vende të shkatërruara më pas. Hulumtimi mund të lexohet në këtë link.

Çmimi për gazetaren Sanie Jusufi është ndarë për hulumtimet “Mirupafshim Lumë” që trajtojnë shqetësimin se si Ministria e Mjedisit dhe Planifikimit Hapësinor lëshoi leje për ndërtimin e hidrocentraleve duke shkelur rregullat dhe rregulloret. Duke u përplasur me kriteret, Ministria lejoi ndërtimin e hidrocentraleve që këtej, duke degraduar mjedisin dhe duke lënë pa ujë banorët e Bitisë së Poshtme – Komuna e Shterpcës. Hulumtimi mund të ndiqet në këtë link.

Çmimi për gazetaret Katarina Marinković dhe Sanja Đokić është ndarë për hulumtimet televizive për ndotjen e ambientit veçanërisht në komunën e Kllokotit. Hulumtimi trajton një nga çështjet më të ngutshme mjedisore të Kllokotit, ndotjen e lumit Morava e Binçës, bllokimin e tij për shkak të hedhjes së mbeturinave.  Hulumtimi trajton çështjet me të cilat merren banorët e Kllokotit duke pasur parasysh papërgjegjësinë e vendasve që trajtojnë lumin si deponi dhe përfaqësuesit e komunës që nuk marrin masa adekuate për ta mbrojtur atë. Hulumtimi mund të ndiqet në këtë link.

Çmimet janë ndarë në kuadër të projektit “Europeanization of Kosovo’s Environmental Agenda” i mbështetur nga Zyra e Bashkimit Evropian në Kosovë dhe i implementuar nga BIRN Kosova, TV Mreža, ERA Group dhe Bankwatch.

Çmime të ngjashme do të ndahen edhe për hulumtimet e publikuara gjatë vitit 2020.


Dodeljene novinarske nagrade za najbolje priče iz oblasti životne sredine

Stručni žiri objavio je imena nagrađenih u okviru poziva za tri najbolje novinarske priče o energetskoj efikasnosti, životnoj sredini i klimatskim promenama.

Za nagradu koja se dodeljuje u okviru projekta “Evropeizacija kosovske agende životne sredine,” koji podržava Kancelarija Evropske unije na Kosovu, u konkurenciji su bile 22 priče objavljene na televizijama i online.

Žiri u sastavu: Krešnik Gaši, Dajana Beriša i Mustafa Skenderija dodelio je prvu nagradu za priču novinara Preporta, Besnika Boljetina. Druga nagrada je dodeljena za priču novinara iz grupe Koha, Sanije Jusufi, dok je treća nagrada dodeljena novinarkama Medija centra, Katarini Marinković i Sanji Đokić.

Ocenjena istraživanja

Novinaru Besniku Boljetinu je nagrada dodeljena za dokumentarno istraživanje “Industrija uništenja”.

Istraživanje prikazuje štetu koju je industrija vađenja šljunka i peska nanela životnoj sredini. Radovima je oštećeno na hiljade hektara rečnih korita tokom vađenja peska i šljunka. Kopači šljunka su degradirali mnoga brda, šume i reke, a zatim ta mesta napustili i ostavili uništenim. Priča se može pročitati na ovom linku.

Novinarki Sanije Jusufi je nagrada dodeljena za istraživanje “Zbogom reko”. Priča govori o tome kako je Ministarstvo životne sredine i prostornog planiranja kršeći pravila i propise izdalo dozvole za izgradnju hidroelektrana. Protivno kriterijumima, Ministarstvo je dozvolilo gradnju hidroelektrana, degradirajući životnu sredinu i ostavivši bez vode stanovnike Donje Bitinje – opština Štrpce. Priča se može pročitati na ovom linku.

Novinarkama  Katarini Marinković  i Sanji Đokić je nagrada dodeljena za TV istraživanje u vezi zagađenja životne sredine, posebno u opštini Klokot. Priča se bavi jednim od najvažnijih problema životne sredine u Klokotu, zagađivanjem reke Binačke Morave i njenom blokadom zbog bacanja otpada.  Istraživanje obrađuje pitanja kojima se bave stanovnici Klokota uzimajući u obzir neodgovornost meštana koji tretiraju reku kao deponiju i opštinskih predstavnika koji ne preduzimaju adekvatne mere da bi je zaštitili. Priča se može odgledati na ovom linku.

Nagrade su uručene u okviru projekta „Evropeizacija kosovske agende životne sredine“ koji podržava Kancelarija Evropske unije na Kosovu, a realizuju BIRN Kosovo, TV Mreža, ERA Grupa i Bankvoč.

Slične nagrade će biti dodeljene i za priče objavljene tokom 2020.

Mediana Halili

Mediana is in the last year of her bachelor’s studies at the Department of Journalism at the University of Pristina. She joined the BIRN team in September 2019.

She is mainly focused on the field of local governance but is also exploring new areas.

Ardita Zeqiri

Ardita joined the BIRN team in October 2019.

She graduated from the Philosophy Department at the University of Pristina, and before joining BIRN completed an internship at the Dean’s Office at the University of Pristina. She has also undertaken a number of training courses, including at Sbunker, The American Corner and at BIRN.

Ardita covers governance in the Municipality of Pristina but also focuses on international politics, both in the region and around the world.

Kosovo Politician Threatens BIRN Country Director

Kosovo politician Gani Koci has threatened several public figures on Facebook, including BIRN Kosovo director Jeta Xharra, calling them malodorous ‘Serbian septic tanks’ that need to be ‘covered in concrete’.

A former deputy minister from the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, Gani Koci, on Friday threatened several politicians and journalists on Facebook, including BIRN Kosovo director Jeta Xharra, saying they should be covered over with concrete because they are “Serbian septic tanks”.

“The time has come not to disinfect but to cover with concrete the Serbian septic tanks still left in Kosovo. They are releasing a lot of odour!” Koci wrote on Facebook, sharing photos of several public figures.

Koci deleted the initial post, only to share another one a couple of hours later containing the same expressions but without the photos. 

In the initial post, Koci shared photos of various politicians and public figures. They included former prime minister and Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti; former deputy prime minister and Vetevendosje member Haki Abazi; parliamentary speaker and former deputy leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, Vjosa Osmani; deputy parliament speaker from Vetevendosje Arberie Nagovci, former Kurti advisor Shkelzen Gashi – sacked by Kurti in April; Vetevendosje MPs Fatmire Kollcaku, Fitore Pacolli and Jusuf Buxhovi; and former MPs Drita Millaku and Ilir Deda.

He also included a photo of the activist Rron Gjinovci and BIRN Kosovo Director Jeta Xharra.

On June 26, Skender Musa, the legal representative of the PDK, announced a lawsuit against Xharra on behalf of the former PDK Minister of European Integration, Dhurata Hoxha. The lawsuit was also against BIRN’s local news outlet, done in collaboration with Internews KALLXO.com, and Prishtina Insight.

The lawsuit concerns BIRN’s investigation that showed a public relations company contracted by the ministry and Kosovo’s ambassador to France, Qendrim Gashi, lobbied for Kosovo and Serbia to swap land as a possible part a final agreement between the two countries.

Xharra said she had contacted the police and the prosecution regarding the threat.

BIRN Kosovo Holds Online Training for Islamic Studies Students

BIRN Kosovo organised an online training session on May 4 for students of the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Pristina.

Twelve students took part in the training session. The focus of the training was the strengthening of critical thinking, protective mechanisms against defamation and slander, combating fake news, and reporting on an ethical basis.

The training was led by Kreshnik Gashi, anchor of the ‘Justice in Kosovo’ television programme, and Labinot Leposhtica, the legal office coordinator at BIRN Kosovo.

Gashi discussed the evolution of the media, provided participants with techniques to help stay safe on social media, and described the role of algorithms on social media.

Talking about ethical reporting, Gashi described the impact that the reporting by the Kosovo media had on the reintegration process of those affected by violent extremism, specifically those who have returned from fighting in Syria and Iraq, and the families that have been affected.

In terms of reporting, Gashi emphasised the importance of fact-checking, as provided that it is done correctly, it fulfills the media’s role in serving the public interest.

Leposhtica explained Kosovo’s media code of ethics, legislation governing the media, and the meaning of freedom of speech on social media.

According to Leposhtica, even though the Kosovo constitution and international conventions ensure freedom of speech, this freedom has limitations, “especially in cases when the freedom of one person violates the freedom of somebody else.” For Leposhtica, “these limitations are in place to prevent hate speech and calls for violence”.

Leposhtica added that the role of the media is to inform readers and viewers correctly and promptly in accordance with international media standards, and to prevent the incitement of discrimination and intolerance on social media.

Since April this year, BIRN has organised two online training courses as part of the ‘Consortium: For a sustainable community’ project, which is funded by the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, GCERF. The previous one was on April 4, for the students of the Medresa Alauddin high school.

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

BIRN Kosovo Trains Journalists to Monitor Auditor’s Reports

BIRN Kosovo held its first training course with young journalists on May 7 designed to help them analyse and cover reports from the National Audit Office.

Supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Pristina, the training course was intended to improve the skills of journalists and monitors so they can better identify violations in the allocation of public money. The training session was also meant to encourage young journalists to undertake investigative journalism.

The course was divided into three sessions. The first session was held by Besnik Osmani, the Auditor General at the National Audit Office of Kosovo. The second session was administered by Visar Prebreza, an editor at Kallxo.com, while the third was led by Labinot Leposhtica, the legal office coordinator at BIRN Kosovo.

In the first session, Osmani explained the role and importance of the Auditor and the National Audit Office reports.

Following that up, Prebreza explained the process of researching and reading the Auditor’s reports, and highlighted the importance of illustrations and infographics within an investigation.

Leposhtica then outlined the legal aspects, explaining legal letters and the process of monitoring legal documents.

BIRN Kosovo and Transitions Open Call for Solutions Journalism Stories

To help support the development of solutions journalism, Transitions and BIRN Kosovo have opened a call for applications for micro-grants and mentorship.

The micro-grants are designed for Kosovo-based journalists journalists, including freelancers, who want to do rigorous reporting on solutions-oriented stories that can serve as a catalyst for promoting accountability for regional problems, as well as better informing communities.

In addition to financial support, Transitions and BIRN offer mentoring throughout the production of the article in order to achieve the highest possible quality.

Participation in a practical solutions journalism training course or in a webinar is a condition for receiving a grant.

Transitions and BIRN Kosovo invite Kosovo-based journalists to apply with proposals in either the Albanian or Serbian language.

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.

Promoting and Advancing Investigative Journalism in the Western Balkans

BIRN Kosovo

Promoting and Advancing Investigative Journalism in the Western Balkans and Strengthening the Capacity of the Organisation.

Information Sheet
Main Objective:

To promote and advance independent investigative journalism and to strengthen and enable information sharing among regional partners

Specific Objective:

  • Supporting transparency, accountability, and functionality of the system for public services in Kosovo with specific focus on courts;
  • Increasing accessibility of media and the civil society to decision-making processes regarding courts, public services, public administration, and public procurement;
  • Improving transparency and accountability of public procurement and tender awarding processes at the local and central level, namely municipalities and the ministerial level;
  • Encouraging transparency, accountability, and meritocracy in the public administration process with the special aim of fighting nepotism and party clientism within the public administration;
  • Providing valuable qualitative and quantitative data and reports to all stakeholders regarding the rule of law institutions, public services, public administration and public spending;
  • Reduce Kosovo’s barriers towards EU integration by disseminating data and reporting on the results from the monitoring process;
  • Increasing transparency and accountability of the Kosovo-Serbia Agreement implementation through establishing an effective mechanism for civil oversight over the process.

Main Activities:

  • Publishing written articles of issues on public administration, public procurement, and public services from the municipal debates during elections;
  • Publishing articles with the facts on the general situation in the Kosovo’s municipalities and local governance;
  • Publishing long articles regarding the Brussels dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia;
  • Monitoring public services.

Target Groups:

  • Public institutions;
  • Media Outlets;
  • Civil Society.

Main implementer:

BIRN Kosovo

Highlights

2,100 written articles covering issues of public administration, public procurement, and public services related to municipal debates organised during the electoral campaign, covering different promises and public statements delivered by public officials, also covering issues of public services and management of public funds 364 articles with fast facts published on a general overview of the situation in the municipalities and local governance of Kosovo.

79 long articles published related to the Brussels-faciliated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.