BIRN Macedonia Holds Digital Rights Training for Journalists

BIRN Macedonia organized a training on Digital Rights for Journalists between June 8-10 in Mavrovo, North Macedonia. The training was designed to shed light on digital rights and equip journalists with skills and tools to cover stories stemming from this increasingly important topic.

Trainers included prominent legal and privacy experts as well as experts for FOIA and senior BIRN journalists. All training sessions were interactive and included numerous examples and exercises. The participants came from various North Macedonian media outlets including Lice v lice, Koha, MRT, Klan TV, Pari and Duma.

The training comprised seven sessions: Introduction to digital rights; privacy and protection of personal data; public interest versus protection of personal data; how to use open databases; how BIRN categorizes and documents violations of digital rights; fact-checking tools and techniques; and misinformation and manipulations on social networks. A separate session was dedicated to a case study about identity theft.

Each session included theoretical and practical elements that provided the participants with a better understanding of the concepts presented. The participants found the training to be highly informative and beneficial and they particularly appreciated the practical nature of the sessions, which allowed them to apply the knowledge gained during the training immediately. They also commended the trainers’ expertise and ability to explain complex concepts in a clear and concise manner.

The training was organized as part of the “Reporting Digital Rights and Freedoms” project, funded by the European Union.




Digital Rights Training for Macedonian Journalists: Applications Open

What are digital rights, who is violating them and how, and why is it important to monitor and report on them? How can journalists recognise problems in this area, prepare stories and get mentoring and financial support for their development and publication?

BIRN is organising a three-day training course for journalists, designed to respond to growing concerns about the violation of digital rights in the Balkans. The training, which will be held in Mavrovo from June 8-10, 2023, will provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of digital rights, focusing on reporting violations, content blocking, manipulation and propaganda in the digital realm.

With technology evolving rapidly, it’s essential for journalists to stay up-to-date on the latest methods and strategies to uncover and appropriately report on digital rights violations. Numerous reports from international human rights organisations, media organisations, civil society organisations and international institutions indicate a worrying situation regarding digital rights in the Balkans, emphasising the need for continuous efforts to improve the protection and promotion of these rights, but also to improve journalists’ abilities to produce good reporting on these issues. Although many countries in the region have regulatory frameworks that formally address these issues, challenges remain, such as online surveillance, censorship and data privacy issues.

Frequent cyber-attacks and online harassment also threaten the safety of many people, including journalists, who are often the target of online attacks. However, many journalists from the region may not be fully aware of the extent of digital rights violations or the underlying legal and technological aspects that lead to such violations.

BIRN’s training course will enable ten selected journalists from North Macedonia to gain a comprehensive understanding of the relevant issues, helping them to identify and report on digital rights violations more effectively. Journalists play a key role in raising public awareness and driving change. This course will give journalists the necessary skills and knowledge and enable them to produce impactful stories that can contribute to a more informed public debate and ultimately lead to policy changes that protect and promote digital rights in the Balkans.

Who can apply?

Any journalist from North Macedonia who is interested in digital rights and has previous journalistic experience. A selection committee will evaluate the applications and select ten (10) journalists who will participate in the training.

How to apply?

Submit the following application form and your CV to no later than May 25, 2023 at 5pm CET with the subject line: Digital Rights Reporting Training for Journalists North Macedonia.

Place and date:

The training course will take place in Mavrovo, North Macedonia, from June 8 to June 10, 2023. The organisers will fully cover the costs of accommodation, food and transport for all participants. The working language of the training is Macedonian and Serbian.

What to expect from the training?

The training will provide the selected journalists with basic skills and knowledge to effectively investigate and report on digital rights violations in a time of dynamic technological advances. The training will cover various aspects of digital rights reporting, including identifying and collecting digital rights violations, categorising these violations and reporting on individual cases and broader trends.

The training will offer valuable educational insights and provide an opportunity to connect with fellow journalists and experts working in the field of digital rights.

A unique opportunity after training

After completing the training, journalists will have the opportunity to pitch their story ideas to BIRN. Selected journalists will receive on-the-job mentoring and financial support to research and apply their newly-acquired skills to implement their ideas on cases that involve infringements, content blocking, filtering, manipulation or propaganda in the digital environment.


Отворен повик: БИРН обука за дигитални права за новинари

Што се дигитални права, кој и како ги прекршува, и зошто е важно да се следи и да се известува за нивната примена? Како да ги препознаете проблемите во оваа област, да подготвите стории и да добиете менторска и финансиска поддршка за нивната изработка и објавување?

БИРН организира тридневна обука наменета за новинари, a дизајнирана да одговори на зголемената загриженост за кршењето на дигиталните права на Балканот, Обуката, која ќе се одржи во Маврово од 08-10 Јуни 2023 година, ќе им овозможи на учесниците сеопфатно разбирање на дигиталните права, фокусирајќи се на пријавување прекршувања, блокирање содржини, манипулации и пропаганда во дигиталната област.

Поради брзиот развој на технологијата од суштинско значење е новинарите да останат во тек со најновите методи и стратегии за откривање и соодветно известување за кршењето на дигиталните права. Бројни извештаи од меѓународни организации за човекови права, медиумски организации, граѓански организации и меѓународни институции укажуваат на загрижувачка ситуација во однос на дигиталните права на Балканот, нагласувајќи ја потребата од континуирани напори за подобрување на заштитата и промоцијата на овие права, но и за подобрување на новинарските способности за креирање на адекватен извештај за овие прашања. И покрај тоа што многу земји од регионот имаат регулаторни рамки кои формално ги решаваат овие прашања, предизвиците и понатаму постојат, како што се онлајн надзорот, цензурата и прашањата за приватноста на податоците.

Честите сајбер напади и онлајн вознемирување, исто така, ја загрозуваат безбедноста и на многумина вклучувајќи ги и новинарите, кои често се мета на онлајн напади. Сепак, многу новинари од регионот можеби не се целосно свесни за степенот на прекршување на дигиталните права или за основните правни и технолошки аспекти кои водат до вакви прекршувања.

Обуката на БИРН ќе им овозможи на десет избрани новинари од Северна Македонија сеопфатно да ги разберат релевантните прашања, помагајќи им да ги идентификуваат и поефикасно да известуваат за кршењето на дигиталните права. Новинарите играат клучна улога во подигање на јавната свест и поттикнување на промени. Со оваа обука тие ќе стекнат потребни вештини и знаења и ќе им се овозможи да продуцираат влијателни стории кои можат да придонесат за поинформирана јавна дебата и на крајот да доведат до промени на политиките кои ги штитат и промовираат дигиталните права на Балканот.

Кој може да аплицира?

Сите новинари од Северна Македонија кои покажуваат интерес во областа на дигиталните права и поседуваат претходно новинарско искуство. Комисијата ќе ги оцени апликациите и ќе избере десет (10) новинари кои ќе учествуваат на обуката

Како да аплицирате?

За да аплицирате, доставете го следниот формулар за апликација заедно со вашето CV најдоцна до 25 Мај 2023 со наслов: Обука за известување за дигитални права за новинари на .

Место и датум:                                                                 

Обуката ќе се одржи во Маврово 08-10 Јуни 2023 година. Организаторите целосно ќе ги покријат трошоците за сместување, храна и превоз за сите учесници. Работен јазик на обуката е македонски и српски.

Што да очекувате од обуката?

Обуката ќе им обезбеди на избраните новинари основни вештини и знаења за ефективно да истражуваат и известуваат за кршење на дигиталните права во сферата на динамичното напредување на технологијата. Обуката ќе опфати различни аспекти на известувањето за дигиталните права, вклучително и идентификување и собирање прекршувања на дигиталните права, категоризирање на овие повреди и известување за поединечни случаи и пошироки трендови.

Обуката ќе понуди вредни едукативни сознанија и ќе обезбеди можност за поврзување со колеги новинари и експерти кои работат во областа на дигиталните права.

Уникатна можност по обуката

По завршувањето на обуката, новинарите ќе имаат можност да ги пренесат своите идеи за стории до БИРН. Избраните новинари ќе добијат менторство на работното место и финансиска поддршка за истражување и примена на нивните новостекнати вештини за спроведување на нивните идеи за случаи кои вклучуваат прекршување, блокирање содржина, филтрирање, манипулации и пропаганда во дигиталната средина.





BIRN Macedonia Publishes ‘Media Uncovered’ Database

New database will give the public essential information about the media on which they rely for current events and developments in the country and worldwide.

BIRN Macedonia has published a new database focusing on media. About 30 media were selected in the first stage – those seen as the most popular according to rankings and public perception. They are divided into categories, TV, radio, print or websites.

Each media outlet has its own character and identity, determined by their ownership structure, editorial policy, the team working in it and its history. These were the criteria the database was built on, in order to become a source of information and a place for preserving the testimonies of and on key players in this industry.

Media Uncovered is a hybrid between a classic database and journalistic investigations, and is designed to help compensate for the lack of transparency and accuracy in data on the media.

The database will expand with new media outlets (local and regional) and with new information. With the first group of around 30 outlets, BIRN laid the foundations to which new profiles and new journalistic investigations will be added on hidden ownerships and undetected influences.

The database will give the public essential information about the media on which they rely for current events and developments in the country and worldwide. The quality of information directly influences citizens’ democratic decisions, their acceptance or disapproval of the public policies, as well as their contribution to achieving the common good.

Media Uncovered is a long-term endeavor aiming to collect, filter and present data on the media scene, which is publicly available, but rarely gets in the spotlight and is therefore often forgotten or ignored. Link:

EU Awards Presented for Best Investigative Journalism in North Macedonia

Winning stories tackled tragic fate of Balkan lynx, pandemic profiteers and over-employment in a government ministry.

The EU Awards for Investigative Journalism in 2021 for North Macedonia were presented on Wednesday at the Aleksandar Palace Hotel in Skopje.

“Investigative journalism is of great importance because it contributes to the protection of the public interest and demands accountability from those in power,” Julian Vasalo, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation in Skopje, said at the ceremony.

“Journalism as a profession has a responsible task to inform the public in an objective manner and at the same time to express the variety of viewpoints that appear in public and of course to demands accountability,” he added.

“Brave journalists are those who investigate in a brave manner and put questions that other do not dare to ask and in that way make their societies better,” he continued.

The jury, comprising jury head Marina Kostova and jury members Tamara Chausidis and Milica Saric, had a challenge evaluating the 13 shortlisted applications.

“While deciding, we were guided by given criteria that assess the relevance of the stories, their quality, originality and professional journalistic integrity,” Kostova said.

According to Kostova, the stories of the finalists are valuable documents that will stay as a resource for further investigations in their fields, but also pointed out that all the stories are independent journalistic efforts financed mainly by donations and not mainstream media.

First prize went to the young journalists of Radio MOF, comprising Jasmina Jakimova, Bojan Sasevski, Daniel Evrosimoski and Emilija Petreska, for their investigative story, “Following the Balkan Lynx’s Footsteps – an Investigative Story in Two Sequels”, which the jury called a product of outstanding research.

“It is disappointing that even after more than a year since we published the story, the institutions did not react to the discovery we literally gave them on a plate. What kind of future do we have in mind if we continue to destroy eco-systems, to destroy the living environment of the Balkan lynx and the natural heritage we have, and, by that, destroy ourselves,” Petreska from Radio MOF said.

She used the opportunity to send another “appeal to the institutions and the public not to allow the Balkan lynx to stay only on the five denar coin, but to preserve it in the mountains”.

Second prize went to the team from Investigative Reporting Lab – Macedonia, for a series of investigations into the medical equipment business in the wake of the pandemic, “Pandemic profiteering – The Other Side of the Covid-19 Story”.

“These investigations are a product of the whole team of IRL. I hope that this story will touch those in competence and that it changes something,” Aleksandra Denkovska from IRL said, after receiving the award.

Her colleague, David Ilievski, said the biggest prize for any investigative story is for it to contribute to significant change, but added: “Unfortunately, not a single one of these investigations brought the institutions to the point of doing something.”

Third prize went to, “Only 44 work, while 1,410 people receive salary”, an investigative series about the work of a government ministry, by Kristina Ozimec and Vlatko Stojanovski.

“This is first award for Pina, a small media house that works on investigative stories. It is also important that the story was produced in cooperation with other organizations like Samo prasaj and the Institute of communication Studies and that with small resources we succeeded in producing independent journalism,” Ozimec said.

Her colleague Stojanovski added that the story was dedicated to the Ministry of Political Systems and the way it functioned.

“The ministry served as a recruiting centre for employing staff for whom professionalism was not important, only their ethnic background, and which cost the state 100 million euros. I hope that we have contributed to resolving one problem,” Stojanovski said.

The EU awards have the overall goal of celebrating and promoting the outstanding achievements of investigative journalists from the Western Balkan countries and Turkey, as well as improving the visibility of quality investigative journalism in these countries among the public.

The award for investigative journalism is awarded through the EU-funded project “Strengthening Quality News and Independent Journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey” in 2019, 2020, 2021 in the EU candidate and potential candidate countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey, for investigative stories published between 2018 and 2020.


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.

BIRN Macedonia Journalist Wins Investigative Story Award

BIRN Macedonia’s story ‘Alive and Well: The Lucrative Business Club around REK Bitola’ by journalist Vlado Apostolov has been awarded best investigative story of the year 2019 by the Macedonian Media Institute, MIM.

The story, published in December 2019, revealed how the public procurement system is being abused by companies with connections to senior government officials in the highly profitable business of coal extraction for REK Bitola, the country’s biggest coal-fired power plant.

The BIRN story documented how the state loses millions of euros by hiring private companies to do the excavation instead of providing machinery equipment for REK Bitola, despite promises by the current ruling party, the Social Democrats, before the elections in 2016, when they were in opposition.

The story showed that not only was this pre-election promise not fulfilled, but the new companies joined the business ‘club’ around REK Bitola. A week after the story was published, the government held a press conference to announce a new procurement tender worth 19 million euros.

“The jury is highlighting that the journalist covered a topic of the utmost public interest, connected to non-transparent spending of budget funds. The jury also took into consideration that the publication of the story and the public reactions caused by it contributed to the decision made by the management of REK Bitola to start a procedure for procurement of its own coal mining equipment,” the award commission said.

The Macedonian Media Institute was giving the award for the best investigative story award for the 19th time. Since 2013, the award has been named after Nikola Mladenov, a prominent journalist and owner of Fokus magazine who died in a traffic accident.

BIRN Macedonia won the best investigative story award for the second time. It was first awarded in 2016 for its ‘Skopje 2014’ database, and in 2018 won second prize for its series of investigations and database on foreign investments in the country.

Vasko Magleshov

Vasko Magleshov is а journalist, anchor and TV host for more than 10 years.

He began his career at a National TV broadcaster Sitel, worked for a satellite channel TV 24 News, and continued his career as news-editor at TV21 and Makfax News Agency covering judiciary topics.

He is one of the authors of the Handbook for disinformation and critical thinking for non-formal education in the country, and also is member of Media Judicial Council. He has participated in a lot of professional trainings and workshops for independent media, media literacy, fact checking and investigative journalism.

He has been part from a group for analysis of the media coverage and media monitoring program. Magleshov was awarded by the mission of EU in North Macedonia for an investigative story.

‘Navigator’ Offers Investigative Journalists Invaluable Tool

New guide supplies Balkan journalists with range of ways to use Open Source Intelligence in their research.

Download guide

The German Corporation for International Cooperation, GIZ, and BIRN have developed a new guide for investigative journalists on Open Source Intelligence. Ludo Block and Andrej Petrovski developed The Navigator for investigative journalists following a training session held in May for investigative journalists from the Western Balkans in Skopje, North Macedonia.

The guide is designed to assist journalists in their research and investigations, especially with regard to Open Source Intelligence techniques. It supplies a variety of tools for documenting, archiving and operational security, provides ways to navigate search engines and social media and track people, assists with image verification, geolocation, searching different corporate registers and metadata research, and with exploring the “dark web”, as well as data handling.

The Open Source Intelligence training and development of The Navigator are part of GIZ’s Global Program, in its Governance and Human Rights Section, done in cooperation with BIRN, supporting investigative journalists from the Western Balkans in the global fight against illicit financial flows.

Goce Trpkovski

Goce Trpkovski has been working as a journalist since 2004.

He joined BIRN from the beginning of 2018, and prior to that he has been working as a reporter and editor in the daily newspapers Vreme and Nova Makedonija.

In May 2019, he was given an award by the Macedonian National Council of the International Council of Museums for raising awareness about the poor condition of cultural heritage in the country.

BIRN Macedonia Journalist Awarded for Cultural Heritage Report

BIRN journalist Goce Trpkovski was given an award by the Macedonian National Council of the International Council of Museums for raising awareness about the poor condition of cultural heritage in the country.

The award was presented at the celebration for the International Museum Day on May 18, at the ASNOM Memorial Centre, a national landmark in the village of Pelince commemorating the establishment of the independent Macedonian state in 1944.

After the devastating fire at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris in April this year, BIRN published an in-depth article documenting the risks to numerous cultural heritage sites in North Macedonia. The country has more than 1,200 sites – houses, public buildings, ancient ruins, churches, mosques, fortsas towers – listed as being under protection.

The article revealed that some unique historical sites like the Skopje Aquaduct are crumbling, despite politicians’ promises to restore them, while many listed sites owned by non-state entities (religious buildings, private houses and others) lack appropriate equipment in case of fire or other disasters, which they should have under the law.