BIRN Summer School Kicks Off in Macedonia

More than 20 journalists from all over the world are taking part in BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting at Lake Mavrovo in Macedonia.

Sheila Coronel, director and professor of Professional Practice at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, opened the third annual BIRN Summer School explaining what investigative journalism is and how to conceptualise an investigation.

Coronel showed how an investigation might be carried out through a case study, an investigation into corruption in the Philippines involving the former Philippines president, Joseph Estrada.

Marcus Lindemann provided insights into the use of modern, online tools for information gathering.

Lindemann, an executive producer and journalist from Germany whose reports often appear on ZDF, Europe’s largest TV station, introduced journalists to a range of ways of finding information online, beyond doing searches on Google.

Mark Schoofs, a senior editor at ProPublica and a two times Pulitzer Prize winner, introduced journalist to investigative techniques with data-driven journalism.

The principal focus of the BIRN Summer School is the reporting of organised crime and corruption for print and broadcast media, but the school will also cover the issues of censorship and self-censorship in the Balkans.

Ana Petruseva

Ana Petruseva is an experienced journalist and one of the founders of the BIRN regional network and BIRN Macedonia.

As the country director of BIRN Macedonia, she organises trainings and debates involving journalists throughout the country, and secures funding for the organisation.

Prior to joining BIRN, Ana was the Macedonia country director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, IWPR. She previously worked as a journalist for a variety of media outlets in Macedonia and abroad, including Reuters, Deutsche Welle, Telma TV and daily newspaper Dnevnik.

Ana was the associate producer of the IWPR documentary , “Ohrid and Beyond,” and served as the co-author and producer of the BIRN Kosovo documentary, “Does Anyone Have a Plan?”

Ana graduated from the Skopje Journalism School in the Faculty of Law at the University of St. Cyril and Methodius.

Sinisa-Jakov Marusic

Sinisa-Jakov Marusic is a Skopje-based journalist and regular contributor to BIRN’s regional publication, Balkan Insight, and the programme Balkan Transitional Justice.

Since 2007, Sinisa has covered Macedonia’s political, social and economic developments, especially those linked to Macedonian post conflict society and transitional justice.

His articles and analysis also appear in other local and international print and electronic media.

In 2007, Sinisa graduated from the Journalism School at the Macedonian Institute for Media, MIM, in Skopje.

He speaks Macedonian, English and German.

BIRN Macedonia Promotes Fellowship Programme

The promotion of this year’s collection of articles, Taboo: Secrecy and Shame in the Balkans, which wraps up the 2010 edition of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, gathered leading Macedonian journalists and editors on December 21 at the Journalists’ club in Skopje.

This year’s articles present the original research of eight journalists selected from Southeast Europe to participate in the 2010 programme.

Editors and journalists from the most influential media, such as A1 TV, Dnevnik daily, Alsat M TV, Alfa TV, Nova Makedonija daily, Netpress news agency, Vest daily, BBC Macedonian language edition, Fokus weekly, Utrinski Vesnik daily, Radio Free Europe and AFP attended the promotion.

Representatives from the Macedonian Broadcasting Council, the OSCE, the British Embassy and the NGO Centre for Civic Communications also came.

BIRN Macedonia director Ana Petruseva introduced the Fellowship programme and praised the quality of the stories.

This year’s Macedonian fellow, Ruzica Fotinovska, a Skopje-based reporter, said it had been “a wonderful experience, a good chance to see how my colleagues journalists from other countries work on investigative stories”.

“The programme offers enough time and resources for real in-depth research, which it is impossible to get in daily media reporting,” Fotinovska added.

Fotinovska won the second prize this year for her article, “Freed Prisoners Remain Caught Behind Bars”, which investigated the life of former prisoners and the country’s failure to develop effective rehabilitation programmes.
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The first prize this year was awarded to Majlinda Aliu, based in Pristina, for her article “Trapped in Black: Balkan War Widows”.

Another Kosovar journalist, Jeton Musliu, who is also based in Pristina, took third place for his article, “Kosovars Turn Blind Eye to Fake Foreign Marriages”.

Petruseva announced the Fellowship programe for 2011 and invited journalists to apply.   

Initiated by the Robert Bosch Stiftung and Erste Foundation in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, the Fellowship is aimed at supporting high-quality reporting, regional networking among journalists and advancing balanced coverage on complex reform issues that are central to the region as well as to the European Union.

Regional Conference on Culture Held in Skopje

A regional cultural conference dubbed “The Balkans, Media and Culture – Time for Change” was held on Tuesday in Skopje and marked the start of the forthcoming three-year project: Balkan Initiative for Cultural Cooperation, Exchange and Development, BICCED.

The project is organised by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN and the South Eastern Europe Culture Portal, It is funded by the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans, SCP.

Distinguished experts and individuals involved in all aspects of cultural policy from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia took part in the discussion today, which aimed to pinpoint the main weaknesses of the local cultural scenes and the ways in which regional cooperation could help address these points.

“It is high time for change and improvement,” Zlatko Teodosievski from the Skopje based New Line\Compendium said in his speech at the conference.

The participants shared local experiences concerning media coverage of cultural events, the organisation of cultural institutions, freelance artists, property rights and other subjects.

Nihad Kresevljakovic from the MESS international theatre festival in Bosnia and Herzegovina noted that media across the region pay very little attention to cultural happenings, which are all too often either absent from their coverage or replaced with trivial information about pop stars.

“The most important paper in Bosnia and Herzegovina for years did not have a culture page,” Kresevljakovic said.

Piro Misha the director of Tirana- based Institute of Dialogue and Communication added that the media in his country mainly ignore cultural events and when they report on such happenings the coverage is often biased and incompetent.

Hristina Mikic from Belgrade University stressed the importance of comprehensive and updated laws on culture that are needed in order for change to happen in the stale public culture institutions which, she said, in many ways remain unchanged from the old socialist era.

Other participants included Dea Vidovic (Kulturpunkt, Zagreb), Mladen Bundalo (artist, Tac.ka, Prijedor), Veton Nurkollari (Dokufest, Prizren), Robert Alagjozovski (cultural operator, journalist and art critic, Skopje), Biljana Tanurovska-Kjulavkovski (Lokomotiva, Skopje), as well as representatives of other cultural institutions.

The participants also discussed the lack of quality cultural critics, the low quality of the translation of the books that are published in local languages, as well as copyright offences, which occur frequently.

The BICCED project aims to serve as a platform for future cultural cooperation among the countries in the region. It will also be focused on common cultural policy issues which can help the states evolve and develop in this area.

Journalists, media and culture organisations, as well as government representatives, shared their thoughts on how they can contribute to the project through various events such as trainings, researches, publications and open debates.

As part of the project’s aim to boost the visibility of culture in the region, ten journalists will be picked each year to participate in training activities. They will be able to compose articles on culture which will be published in media outlets in their own countries and across the region.

Regional Conference “Balkan, Media and Culture – Time for Change”

The regional conference “Balkan, Media and Culture – Time for Change” will be held on April 20, 2010 at the Kaproš hotel in Skopje, as part of the three-year project “Balkan Initiative for Cultural Cooperation, Exchange and Development” – BICCED, which will be implemented by the Balkan Investigative Regional Reporting Network and its partners, and funded by the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans (SCP).

The conference will be the opening event for the BICCED project, which aims to build a network of journalists and cultural organisations from the region, to focus on common cultural policy issues with the aim of reaching both the wider public and policy makers, and to contribute to the change and development of cultural policies both locally and regionally.


The conference will help in the preparation of an editorial strategy and the establishment of links between cultural organisations, experts and journalists from across the region, and several participants will be invited to form an advisory board, whose role will be to provide input into editorial strategy at annual meetings over the project’s three-year life cycle.


Among the participants of the conference will be representatives of the Ministry of Culture of Macedonia, the Swiss Embassy/Swiss Cooperation Office in Skopje and the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans, as well as approximately 20 representatives of cultural institutions/organisations from the region, and ten journalists selected for the first year of the project implementation.


The first part of the conference (Regional Cultural Policy – Exploring the Challenges), which will be open to media,  will give a general overview of cultural policies in the region and the main problems facing cultural organisations. The second part of the conference will be closed to the public and will consist of two moderated brainstorming sessions (What to report on and Networking strategy – using formal and informal communication tools to influence policy makers and opinion formers across the region). 


Speakers at the conference include Professor Primo Shllaku (Observatory of Culture, Tirana), Nihad Kresevljakovic (Festival MESS, Sarajevo), Vesa Sahatciu (Art critic, Pristina), Zlatko Teodosievski (Nova linija/Compendium, Skopje) and Hristina Mikic (Lecturer at theUniversity of Belgrade and the Higher School for Business Studies Novi Sad/Compendium, Novi Sad).


Among the participants of the conference are Piro Misha (publisher, Tirana), Mladen Bundalo (artist, Tac.ka, Prijedor), Veton Nurkollari (Dokufest, Prizren), Vala Osmani (Stacion), Darka Radosavljevic-Vasiljevic (Remont, Belgrade), Silvia Drazic (Art Clinic/Initiative Za kulturne politike, Novi Sad), Robert Alagjozovski (cultural operator, journalist and art critic, Skopje), Biljana Tanurovska-Kjulavkovski (Lokomotiva, Skopje), as well as representatives of several other cultural institutions and organisations from Skopje.


Guests participants include Dea Vidovic (Kulturpunkt, Zagreb), who will present Croatian experiences in networking in order to make changes in cultural policy, and Veronika Ratzenböck (Kulturdokumentation.internationales archiv für kulturanalysen, Wien) as observer.  


All sessions will be moderated by Gordana Igric (BIRN Regional Director), Dusica L.I. Cook (BIRN Project Manager) and Vesna Milosavljevic ( Director), and be followed by questions from the floor and discussion. The working language of the conference is English.


The expected outcomes will be action points and recommendations for further development of the project.


Please, find the attached Agenda.

BIRN Macedonia Fellowship Book Launch

BIRN Macedonia on Monday, December 22 held a reception to launch the book “Power struggle: Meeting Global Energy Challenges in Balkans”, containing articles by ten journalists from Southeast Europe that participated in the 2008 programme of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.

At the cocktail at Skopje’s Journalists` Club, BIRN Macedonia director Ana Petruseva presented the book containing investigative journalism stories done by this year’s fellows on the topic of energy. She spoke about the aims of the program and encouraged journalists to apply for next year.

Darko Duridanski, this year’s fellow from Macedonia who examined the energy arising from Kosovo`s independence and its impact on other similar movements in Spain and Georgia talked about his experience with the fellowship program and the topic that he worked on.

About hundred journalists and editors from Macedonia`s main media organisations attended the launch including from the dailies Vest, Dnevnik, Utrinski vesnik, Spic, as well as A1 TV, Kanal 5 TV, Alsat- M TV, Alfa TV along with representatives of embassies and civil society organisations.

Each year the BIRN teamof experienced editors and journalists in cooperation with the Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE foundations is offering ten journalists from the Balkans a chance to travel and investigate their stories which are later published in their respective national media as well as published in a BIRN book.

BIRN Holds Annual Network Board Meeting

The board of the regional Network held its annual meeting in Skopje between 19 to 22 May to discuss results achieved in 2007 as well as further development of the Network and its member organisations.

On the first day of the meeting, Gordana Igric, Regional Network Director, presented the regional organisation’s annual activity; directors of member organisations presented their activities and plans for the following period.

BIRN regional also presented the impact of the self-sustainability strategy launched in November 2007, with further options for development of commercial activities of the Network.

Representatives of member organisations adopted the annual report as well as several decisions on the future activities of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

Seminars on ICTY reporting in Skopje and Pristina

BIRN and the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, are organising two seminars on reporting about the work of the ICTY for journalists from Kosovo and Macedonia next week in Pristina and Skopje.

The seminars, scheduled for April 10 in Pristina and April 11 in Skopje, will offer an opportunity for media professionals from Kosovo and Macedonia to discuss various issues related to the ICTY and the coverage of war crimes with tribunal officials and experts on war crimes reporting. The seminars will be divided into six sessions and are envisaged as a forum for an open exchange of opinions and experiences, to facilitate better access to ICTY-related information. The events are organised by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, in cooperation with ICTY Outreach and with financial support from the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

BIRN Macedonia Organises Training Workshop

BIRN Macedonia has selected eight trainees for a one-week workshop, organised by the Office of Public Affairs of the US Embassy and BIRN Macedonia on the theme of “Success Stories”. The training aims to encourage print and broadcast media to feature more interesting stories in their output.

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The trainees are young working journalists from the dailies Dnevnik, Vest and Vreme; the broadcasters A1 TV, Channel 5 TV and ALSAT-M TV; the state news agency MIA, economic web portal Total and the weekly Kapital.

The training will be held between November 20 and 24 at the BIRN Macedonia office in Skopje. In addition to lecturing the trainees, the chief trainer, Professor Bill Silcock, from the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and Ana Petruseva, BIRN country director, will help them prepare stories over course of the session. In advance of the workshop, the journalists were taken to Kumanovo to prepare stories that will be discussed at the event.