Citizen’s Budget

BIRN Serbia – past programme

BIRN Serbia’s Citizen’s Budget initiative aims to produce a guide to the Serbian budget for the country’s citizens. The BIRN team intends to make a link between revenue raised, expenditures, and outcomes in public services as part of an effort to increase efficiency and strengthen the accountability of the Serbian government’s budgeting process.

Summary

This project, which will run from June 2012-February 2013, will take an innovative approach to communicating macroeconomic policy and public financial management to the people of Serbia and various interest groups. It also aims to provide know-how to the Ministry of Finance and set the groundwork for creating a sustainable framework for communicating the budget to the people of Serbia.

As part of the citizen’s budget project, BIRN Serbia will discuss the government’s budgeting and financial management practices at meetings with the Ministry of Finance in an effort to thoroughly understand the budget process and the policy decisions taken by the government. Project participants will also discuss spending strategy with the Finance Ministry to get an understanding of specific spending plans, to make the link from expenditure to public service outcomes and to establish the geographical distribution of spending.

The team will analyse revenue sources to get a sense of the distributional impact of taxation in the Republic of Serbia (eg. proportional impact on families, households, the employed, the unemployed, businesses etc).

As part of the project, BIRN Serbia will group budget allocations to government ministries into meaningful categories of expenditure (eg. health, education, housing, welfare etc) to communicate spending more effectively to the public. The team will also analyse the government’s fiscal position, including the current deficit, debt management framework and reform program and discuss economic growth prospects with the Fiscal Council. In addition, the project will analyse government financial data to enable comparisons to be drawn with EU averages.

The Citizen’s Budget project will organise a series of consultative meetings with experts in different fields for the purpose of data gathering, especially in terms of the impact of budget allocations.

The results of the project will be translated into a prototype Citizen’s Budget which presents information and data in an easy to understand way, making the budget both tangible and meaningful to the citizens of Serbia. A light-touch framework will be created which enables the Citizen’s Budget to be updated with ease at successive fiscal events.

BIRN Serbia will also organise focus-groups with different stakeholders in order to get their feedback on the proposed concept, the information presented, the way in which it is presented and how it relates to their interests.

The team intends to secure a buy-in from the Finance Ministry through consultation and training to continue to follow this good practice.

The final product of this Citizen’s Budget initiative will include the publication of the Citizen’s Budget Guide, and its promotion in the Parliament, followed by a public outreach campaign.

The target audience for the Citizen’s Budget project is both the general public and the Government of Serbia. The project budget stands at 30,000 euros; it is supported by USAID Business Enabling Project.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
  • To produce a Citizen’s Budget Guide for the Republic of Serbia which aims to make the link between revenue raised, expenditure on and outcomes in public services to both increase efficiency and strengthen accountability of the GoS’s budgeting process.

Specific Objectives:

  • To take an innovative approach to communicating macroeconomic policy and public financial management to the people of Serbia and various interest groups.
  • To provide know-how to the Ministry of Finance and set the ground for creating a sustainable framework for communicating the budget to the people of Serbia.

Main Activities:

  • To discuss the GoS budgeting and financial management practices through meetings with MFIN to thoroughly understand the budget process and the policy decisions taken by the Government.
  • To analyse revenue sources to get a sense of the distributional impact of taxation in the Republic of Serbia (eg. proportional impact on families, households, the employed, the unemployed, businesses etc).
  • To group budget allocations to the government ministries into meaningful categories of expenditure (eg. Health, education, housing, welfare etc) to communicate spending more effectively to the public.
  • To discuss spending strategy with MFIN to get an understanding of specific spending plans, to make the link from expenditure to public service outcomes and to get a sense of the geographical distribution of spending.
  • To analyse the GoS fiscal position, including the current deficit, debt management framework and reform program and to discuss the economic growth prospect with the Fiscal Council.
  • To analyse GoS financial data to enable comparisons to be drawn with EU averages.
  • To organize a series of consultative meetings with experts in different fields for the purpose of data gathering, especially in terms of impact of budget allocations.
  • To translate results into a prototype Citizen’s budget which presents information and data in an easy to understand way making the budget both tangible and meaningful to the citizens of Serbia.
  • Create a light-touch framework which enables the Citizen’s budget to be updated with ease at successive fiscal events.
  • To organize focus-groups with different stakeholders in order to get their feedback on proposed concept, information presented, the way in which it is presented and how it relates to their interests.
  • Secure buy-in from the MFIN through consultation and training to continue to follow this good practice.
  • Editing, design and printing the Citizens Budget Guide.
  • Promote the Citizen’s budget in the Parliament, followed by the public outreach campaign.

Target Groups:

  • Government of Serbia
  • Expert community
  • General public

Radio Justice

BIRN BiH – past programme
Since 2007, BIRN BiH has been producing audio reports that cover the war crimes trials in Bosnia and Herzegovina and are broadcast on over 140 radio stations within the country and region

Summary

The idea for Radio Justice came after radio editors and journalists in BiH said their use of Justice Report, BIRN BiH’s daily courtside reporting service from war crimes trials would increase if it were received in audio format.

In February 2010, BIRN BiH started a weekly magazine on the trials conducted before the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of BiH.

It serves as a weekly analysis of war crimes trials, the court’s work and transitional justice in general. In addition, each magazine presents common problems faced by judicial institutions in the country, including transparency, accessibility, independence, implementation of effective legal remedies, and protection of victims.

In 2011, aiming to contribute to reporting on the transfer of war crimes cases to Cantonal and District courts in the country and on the Cantonal and District courts’ work, BIRN BiH launched Local Radio Justice magazine.

This radio magazine is dedicated to all war crime trials held before District and Cantonal Courts as well as other topics related to war crimes trials and transitional justice in local communities. This programme is broadcast on local radio stations.

The radio reports, daily announcements and investigative reports are distributed to local, regional and diaspora-based radio stations free-of-charge.

It is supported by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, the MATRA Program of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency through Civil Rights Defenders, National Endowment for Democracy, the British Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Foreign Commonwealth Office, the United States Agency for International Development – Justice Sector Development Project II.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
The BIRN BiH team aims to contribute to the establishment of truth and reconciliation through this project by cooperating with large number of local radio stataions. Due to the fact that radio is the most popular traditional medium in the country, through Radio Justice programs BIRN BiH is able to reach much wider audience.

Specific Objectives:
The BIRN BIH team produces daily audio reports and a weekly and monthly magazine for the Radio Justice project, with the goal of increasing understanding of and support for the work of war crimes courts in BiH through objective reporting on the process.

Main Activities:
The Radio Justice project includes the production of daily audio court-side reports, Radio Justice weekly as well as monthly magazine.
Target Groups:
The Radio Justice project targets a wide audience, from war crimes victims to local and regional judiciary institutions and international organisations.
Highlights:
So far over 2,700 radio reportages have been distributed to 140 stations across the country, and aired at 56.

Domestic radio stations receive daily and weekly audio files of the most relevant courtside reports produced by BIRN BiH journalists, cut to the broadcast-length of 30 seconds to one minute. In 2013, BIRN BiH produced in total 900 minutes of radio programming.

In 2013, Radio Justice team produced over 200 daily audio reports, 52 weekly radio magazines, 12 Local Justice Under Spotlight, and a total of 36 The Hague Chronicles. At the end of 2013, and upon feedback from many radio editors, the Hague Chronicle has been integrated with the weekly Radio Justice magazine.

According to Mareco Index Bosnia among the most listened radio stations in the country are the public broadcasters, BH Radio 1, Federal Radio, and Redio of Republika Srpska. BIRN BiH’s radio shows are regularly broadcasted via the aforementioned radio stations, with exception to Radio of Republika Srpska, thus reaching an estimated one million listeners in BiH.

BIRN BiH partnered with community-based radio stations we are able to reach audiences in small and rural communities in both Entities. BIRN’s radio programme is available in the following communities: Zenica, Doboj, Doboj South, Tuzla, Sipovo, Cazin, Bileca, Jablanica, Olovo, Gacko, Busovaca, Mostar, Breza, Lukavac, Bobovac, Bosanska krupa, Vitez, Sapna, Gorazde, Konjic, Kljuc, Bihac, Jajce, Zvornik, Bijeljina, Donji Vakuf, Vogosca, and Sarajevo.

Many radio editors report back to BIRN their impressions of the show as well as the reactions of their audiences. We can conclude they are very interested in the topic of war crimes and willing to broadcast BIRN BiH’s programme. They consider it to be a significant part of their scheme, especially news and information segments. Here is what some of them had to say about it:

“Any type of information that can initiate positive thinking is important. The people, regardless of their ethnicity, should be informed about those who committed war crimes, especially if they occurred in their communities. The fact that these criminals are in facing courts and justice encourages this positive way of thinking,” said Despot Mojsilovic, editor in chief of Radio Breza.

“I appreciate BIRN’s radio programme very much, and am very content to be able to use it in our airing scheme. Information you provide about the happenings during the war is very unique. The war was interlinked among all the nations of this region, and it is of pivotal importance for people to know that war criminals are being processed or in jail. And because of this your show is of huge importance, not just for BiH, but for the entire region,” stated from Radio ZOS.

“Your show is done in a very professional manner. It is very different from other political shows that we can hear on the radio today,” said Vojo Stjepanovic, editor in chief of Radio Doboj.

Regional Reporting on Transitional Justice Issues

BIRN Hub

The programme aims to contribute to the reconciliation process in the region by raising awareness of transitional justice issues among the citizens of the former Yugoslav republics.

Summary

The programme aims to promote best practice among local media outlets in reporting on often sensitive post-conflict transitional justice issues.

It works to improve the state of reporting in this specific field by creating a regional network of journalists who are trained to competently cover all aspects of the process and by allowing local media to republish high quality contributions.

The team had been producing a 10-minute radio programme called “Roads to Justice”, which covered the region and was broadcast monthly by numerous radio stations throughout the Balkans. I

The BIRN team has also produced a series of six TV pieces, which were released as a feature-length film entitled “The Majority Starts Here” and a documentary film “The Unidentified”.

The Regional Reporting on Transitional Justice Issues programme targets victims’ groups in the region and in the diaspora, as well as victims of war and former camp inmates.

In addition, the programme is aimed at international NGOs, human rights groups and local and international journalists.

It is supported by the European Commission, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Robert Bosch Foundation.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
  • To establish a network of journalists in the Balkans (Transitional Justice Regional Journalistic Team), who will be trained to report on transitional justice issues in the region, raising awareness and assisting in the reconciliation process.

Specific Objectives:

  • To contribute to the reconciliation process by raising awareness of transitional justice issues among the citizens of former Yugoslav Republics;
  • To improve the state of the media in this specific field while creating a regional network of journalists who are capable of covering all the aspects of the on-going process and by allowing local media to republish high quality articles;
  • To promote best practice in terms of reporting on often sensitive post-conflict transitional justice processes among local media outlets.

Main Activities:

  • Training for a specialized Transitional Justice Regional Journalistic Team;
  • Editorial Production;
  • Online Production and dissemination;
  • Radio “Roads to Justice” production and dissemination;
  • TV Regional Justice Production and dissemination. Regional Conferences.

Target Groups:

  • Victims’ groups in the region, as well as the diaspora;
  • Women victims of war and women searching for their families;
  • Male former camp inmates from throughout the region and abroad;
  • International NGOs, watchdogs, justice sector development institutions (i.e. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, International Centre for Transitional Justice etc);
  • Journalists, local and worldwide, who report on transitional justice issues.

Highlights:

  • The documentary film The Unidentified – produced by the BIRN Hub Balkan Transitional Justice programme won the best short documentary award at the South East European Film Festival in LA. The film investigated the commanders responsible for brutal attacks during the Kosovo war.
  • The War Crimes Verdicts Map – an interactive tool designed by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network to provide an overview of court rulings on the crimes that were committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Project for Exposing Corruption in Albania

BIRN Albania

The project includes cooperation between journalists and CSOS, journalistic training and mentoring, investigative reporting and publishing, media monitoring and debating on the corruption cases in Albania.

Summary

BIRN Serbia is conducting media ownership monitoring in Serbia in order to reveal relevant trends towards concentration, enabling the public to make more educated choices as media consumers. Ideally, greater awareness will result in regulatory countermeasures in the medium term.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
The overall objective is to foster freedom of information and media pluralism while defending diversity of opinions.
Specific Objectives:
The Media Ownership Monitor (MOM) is a standardized instrument for research and publication, creating and enhancing transparency of national mass media ownership.Ownership shares of media outlets and the respective market shares of their products can be used as indicators of media pluralism in each target country.
Collecting data and updating and classifying them is critical for raising political awareness of this problem, initiating debates and eventually establishing a legal framework to enhance control of this concentration.
This helps promote an independent, efficient and pluralistic media sector, serving as a basis for the realization of the individual fundamental right to freedom of expression and informational self-determination.
In addition, the results of MOM can help strengthen the media literacy of all citizens; their user behaviour is changed when they know – or at least can know – who is behind a TV or radio station, a newspaper or Internet portal.
Main Activities:
– Conducting media ownership monitoring in Serbia- Public policy analysis
Target Groups:
– Legislature (media and anti-trust law, concentration control);- Professional public (media journalists, media studies and research, trade and professional associations, civil society actors);
– Media owners;
– Any media user, general public
Highlights:
Web site with monitoring results
Public policy analysis
Public conference

Media Ownership Monitor (MOM) – third implementation phase

BIRN Serbia

Summary

BIRN Serbia is conducting media ownership monitoring in Serbia in order to reveal relevant trends towards concentration, enabling the public to make more educated choices as media consumers. Ideally, greater awareness will result in regulatory countermeasures in the medium term.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
The overall objective is to foster freedom of information and media pluralism while defending diversity of opinions.
Specific Objectives:
The Media Ownership Monitor (MOM) is a standardized instrument for research and publication, creating and enhancing transparency of national mass media ownership.Ownership shares of media outlets and the respective market shares of their products can be used as indicators of media pluralism in each target country.
Collecting data and updating and classifying them is critical for raising political awareness of this problem, initiating debates and eventually establishing a legal framework to enhance control of this concentration.
This helps promote an independent, efficient and pluralistic media sector, serving as a basis for the realization of the individual fundamental right to freedom of expression and informational self-determination.
In addition, the results of MOM can help strengthen the media literacy of all citizens; their user behaviour is changed when they know – or at least can know – who is behind a TV or radio station, a newspaper or Internet portal.
Main Activities:
- Conducting media ownership monitoring in Serbia- Public policy analysis
Target Groups:
- Legislature (media and anti-trust law, concentration control);- Professional public (media journalists, media studies and research, trade and professional associations, civil society actors);
- Media owners;
- Any media user, general public
Highlights:
Web site with monitoring results
Public policy analysis
Public conference

Publicly on Public Services – focus on health and education

BIRN Serbia

Summary

BIRN Serbia conducts action which will respond to the lack of information and debate about the level of reforms in areas of health and education on both local and national level.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
BIRN Serbia envisages a nine-month program aiming to produce in-depth analytical and investigative reports about the results of institutional reforms in the fields of health and education, followed by public debates and policy initiatives, in cooperation with CSOs and think tanks specializing in these issues.
Specific Objectives:
1. Raising the capacity of journalists (including locals) to research and report on health and education2. Creating an informal network with other watchdogs, think tanks and CSOs specializing in these issues
3. Enhancing the public debate on the impact of reforms in the areas of education and health
Main Activities:
A1: Training for journalists will be organized in close collaboration with sectorial organizations specializing in health and education.A2: Through this project BIRN will intensify cooperation with specialist watchdog and think tank organizations
A3: A set of activities that will secure visibility and initiate a public debate, based on four articles and two policy papers produced over the course of the project
Target Groups:
Journalists, civil society organizations, decision-makers in government and parliament, experts, trade unions.

Highlights:
Two policy papers

Public debate

Project for Investigative Journalism and Cooperation Between Media and Civil Society

BIRN Macedonia – past programme
Through the “Project For Investigative Journalism And Cooperation Between Media And Civil Society” BIRN Macedonia works with NGO representatives and journalists to build and foster efficient links between media and non-governmental organizations with a goal for greater visibility of the NGOs and creating environment for production of more relevant investigative stories.

Summary

The project aims to support the investigative journalists with financial support and providing a room for publishing the stories.  The Project is part of the USAID programme for strengthening independent media in Macedonia and is implemented in partnership with Center for Civil Communications, Senter for investigative journalism - SCOOP Macedonia, TV magazine KOD and daily newspaper KOHA.

The project which was launched in December 2012 has several different elements including fostering links between journalists and NGOs, training of NGO representatives, supporting the journalists to investigate and publishing their stories.

Macedonia’s media are troubled with many challenges. Closure of independent and critical media, increasing pressure and control of the government over numerous media outlets and rising trend of self-censorship have led to a journalism guided by political and business interests of media owners, limited space for objective reporting and have almost wiped out investigative reporting. At the same time, professional journalism standards are largely ignored.

With this project BIRN Macedonia promotes and tries to strengthen the relation between the media and NGOs by detecting the priority issues of common interest. Ten debates with different topic between journalists and NGOs are included. The goal is the participants to detect the topics that need to be challenged.

BIRN Macedonia supports the investigative journalism by opening eight calls for investigative stories. About 40 journalists will be awarded with financial support for in-depth investigation on specific topic. The selected journalists will be provided with mentors from BIRN and partner organizations staff who will guide the journalists through the investigative process.

The Project provides publishing the stories written by the selected journalists on a separate web site designed for the Project but also on other media. The web site will not serve only for publishing the stories but also as a data base of NGOs and experts in various fields so the journalists and NGO representatives can check the needed information and contacts.

BIRN Macedonia together with its partners will provide training and expertise for the NGOs and media through 10 workshops so they create common language, but also to train the NGOs to get bigger visibility in the media.

Together with the KOD TV magazine 12 investigative programs will be created in the framework of the Project.

The project was initiated by BIRN Macedonia in 2012 and was supported by USAID.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
 
  • To bridge the current gap between journalists and non-governmental organizations on issues of public interest
  • To build operational and efficient partnerships between CSOs and media as base for more objective journalism, and more informed public.

Specific Objectives:

 
  • Establish partnership relations between media and CSOs that will enable a long- term cooperation, instead of one-off contacts on issues of public interest. Currently media tend to ignore or use the work of CSOs selectively, thus depriving the public of the big picture. At the same time, both media and CSO’s have not forged any strong ties or cooperation.
  • Achieve greater visibility of the work of CSOs and in turn greater media legitimacy; design a line of communication between media and CSOs, so CSOs can arm journalists with necessary reporting information in public interest helping their professional, fact-based, and objective information, resulting in more professional journalistic stories.
  • Support public interest journalism; By improving journalists’ skills, capacities, tools, information and offering financial resources for in depth and investigative reports, as well as room for publishing of their stories the project aims to create a pool of investigative journalists, create a web platform and contribute a significant number of reports on key issues.
  • Provide the public with better and more substantial information as base to make informed decisions (in their private lives, businesses and as members of the society), raise public awareness on key issues and stir debate.

Main Activities:

 
  • Detecting of media and CSOs common issues, through a series of public debates between journalists and CSOs representatives.
  • Research of the current media coverage of the detected common issues, through an in-depth monitoring of the way Macedonian media and journalists report those issues
  • Creating a common language for CSOs and media through 10 workshops for CSOs
  • Technical assistance to Macedonian journalists in reporting important issues on more professional, fact-based and objective way
  • Providing journalists and CSOs with a room for reporting for issues of common interest and for offering citizens important information to make right
  • Sharing information and news reporting materials with other Balkan countries

Target Groups:

 
  • Journalists and CSOs from Macedonia