BIRN Romania Launches Coronavirus Reporting Project

The Black Sea Trust For Regional Cooperation, BST, a project of the US German Marshall Fund, has awarded BIRN Romania a journalism grant for monitoring, analysing and deconstructing cases of disinformation from Romania and Moldova related to the coronavirus crisis.

Between May 1 and December 30, 2020, a total of at least ten journalists from Moldova and Romania will produce around 35 fact-checking stories to be published locally and internationally.

A pool of resources for the public on how to measure, report and block disinformation and one policy paper with the main findings and a set of suggested actions will be published.

Most of the media coverage in both Romania and Moldova is currently focused on the everyday reality of the coronavirus pandemic: what is happening, what are the measures being taken by local and national authorities, and what can be expected.

”Uncertainty about the future looms and anxiety is at its highest, driven not only by natural fear in the proximity of the unknown but mainly by a large number of COVID-19 falsehoods that are still spreading like wildfire on social media, driven also by unethical and unprofessional reporting,” said Marian Chiriac, director of BIRN Romania.”

“In such a context, we believe that there is a huge need for factual reporting, for stories which are double fact-checked, and for a way of reporting which not only increases public debate and the accountability of officials, but which also cause an upward spiral of engagement and altruistic action,” Chiriac added.

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 Romania Publishes E-book About Moldova

Just after the dramatic change of government in Moldova, BIRN Romania has compiled all its recent reports on the situation into a free, downloadable e-book.

BIRN Romania published an e-book on July 1 entitled ‘N-ar fi rău să fie bine’ (‘It Would Not be Bad to be Good’), containing over 20 reports on Moldova, together with other relevant background information.

The e-book, which is published in Romanian, runs to more than 140 pages and is free to download.

Between September 2018 and June 2019, BIRN Romania conducted a project aimed at fostering mutual understanding between the peoples of Moldova and Romania via a series of human-interest stories (print and audio) on what it means to be citizens of these countries, separate states but yet so close in terms of history, culture and language.

A total of 12 journalists from Moldova and Romania have produced over 20 long-form, in-depth stories, including features, investigative reports and a podcast, which have been published locally and internationally.

The project was financially supported by the Black Sea Trust For Regional Cooperation (BST), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

To download the e-book, click here.

Moldova – Romania: A Network of Stories

BIRN Romania
The project aims to foster mutual understanding among people from Moldova and Romania by creating a network of human interest stories (print and audio) related to what does it mean to be a Moldovan citizen today in relation with a Romanian one, in an era of geopolitical tensions and radical social change.


At least ten journalists from both countries will produce some 20 long form, in-depth stories, which will be published on local and international level. A selection of stories will be published as an e-book which will be highly redistributed to general public and stakeholders.

Donor: Open Society FoundatioBlack Sea Trust Fund – A German Marshall Projectn, Serbia

Information Sheet

Main Objective

To contribute to the confidence building and mutual understanding process among the citizens from Moldova and Romania.

Specific Objectives

  • To involve at least 10 journalists from Moldova and Romania to report on human interest stories relevant for both countries
  • To supply local media from both countries with interviews, good-quality analytical articles and opinion pieces
  • To support informed debate on key challenges both countries are facing, both at national and regional level.

Main Activities

  • BIRN Romania team will activate its network of journalists and stringer from Moldova and Romania but will also launch a public call for contributors. Basic rules of editorial policies and communication will be established.
  • BIRN Romania will commission the stories and will schedule their publication date
  • Under guidance from BIRN team (on-the-job training), the journalists will write up to 20 long form, in-depth articles. The articles will be published simultaneously on SINOPSIS website and on BIRN’s media partners from Moldova and Romania. A selection of the articles (or brief version of them) will be published in English on the Balkan Insight website and also distributed to an international audience.
  • A selection and revised version of the articles will be published as an e-book, which will be distributed to general public and stakeholders.

Target Groups

  • At least 10 journalists from Moldova and Romania.
  • General public from the above mentioned countries
  • International audience interested in the Eastern Europe region.

Main implementer

BIRN Romania


Several publications from Romania and Moldova

BIRN Romania Launches Reporting Project on Moldova

The Black Sea Trust For Regional Cooperation (BST), a project of the U.S. German Marshall Fund, has awarded BIRN Romania a journalism grant aimed at fostering mutual understanding between the peoples of Moldova and Romania via a series of human-interest stories (print and audio) on what it means to be citizens of these countries, separate states but yet so close in terms of history, culture and language.

Between September 2018 and May 2019, a total of at least ten journalists from Moldova and Romania will produce around 20 long-form, in-depth stories to be published locally and internationally. A selection of the stories will be published as an e-book for stakeholders and the general public.

“Despite many historical, cultural, linguistic and economic ties linking Moldova and Romania, most people from both countries still have little knowledge of one another. Media interest in daily issues is relatively high, but often characterised by unethical and unprofessional reporting”, says Marian Chiriac, director of BIRN Romania.

“In such a context, there is a clear need for human stories behind the official narratives, for fair, balanced, sensitive and educational long-form coverage to encourage greater understanding of one another.”

BIRN Regional Meeting Held in Bucharest

Directors, board members, partners and donors of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, met in the Romanian capital Bucharest on June 2-3 for the network’s latest regional meeting of its governing bodies.

At the meeting, the BIRN Network’s activities and achievements in 2017-2018 were presented and the plans for the upcoming period discussed.

The annual Steering Committee meeting and Assembly session were held, and regional social media guidelines were adopted at the event.

In recent times, BIRN has operated in an environment marked by illiberal tendencies in the region, media freedom decline in several countries, captured states, and unresolved issues from the past.

Nevertheless, its online publishing, TV and video production reach growing numbers of people; its journalists have won a number of local and international awards, and its reporting has produced tangible social and political changes.

BIRN’s longstanding donors and partners from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and ERSTE foundation attended the meeting.

Between Pressures and Praises – BIRN Network Annual Report 2017

In 2017, BIRN Network operated in an environment of declining media freedoms and unregulated media markets, where authorities and pro-governmental media outlets pressured members of the Network and its journalists; nevertheless, BIRN received national and international prizes as well as different kinds of informal praise.

An unfavourable media situation and the lack of proper cooperation with institutions—sometimes even hostile attitude towards BIRN—occasionally hinders the work of the organisation. However, through this report, we also underscore the best results of BIRN’s work, including the praise it has received.

The report shows what the organisation did to offer high quality journalistic work and to provide citizens with reliable, timely and in-depth reporting as well as BIRN’s contribution to improving media freedom and openness of public institutions. It also highlights the instances in which BIRN’s work had a strong political and social impact, showing that—despite difficulties—professional journalistic reporting can conclude in tangible results.

The whole report is available here [link].

Innovative Journalism Techniques Training Held in Moldova

A training course entitled ‘Innovative Techniques for Quality Journalism’, organised by BIRN and the Independent Journalism Center in Moldova (IJC), was held on March 16-17 in Chisinau, Moldova.

Fifteen participants representing national and regional media who are interested in launching partnerships at the international level and in publishing their stories in foreign media with the support of BIRN HUB, took part in the training.

The training was conducted by BIRN editors Timothy Large, Marija Ristic and Marian Chiriac, who shared their experience in the field of narrative journalism.

The trainers offered journalists a number of instruments and techniques for enhancing their reporting skills.

The participants had the opportunity to hone their features, news and analysis writing skills and gain insights into online journalism and into the correct ways of reporting on conflict situations.

The participants said they appreciated the training course, giving feedback responses saying that they learned how to write interesting futures, improved their professional skills and `learned new techniques for writing quality articles.

BIRN Holds Project Management Training in Romania

BIRN Hub, the organisational entity that manages the network’s regional projects and coordinates its work, organized project management training for its members in Bucharest, Romania, on March 2-4.

Project management staff, administrative and financial personnel and some journalists met together to boost their knowledge about project management cycles.

During the training, participants had a chance to improve their knowledge of project management cycles and, through interactive workshops, deepen their knowledge of project management and to learn how to contribute to it.

The training session was also a chance to strengthen relations with BIRN Romania, especially for the newcomers to BIRN.

The training was organized by Dusica Stilic, regional operations manager at BIRN Hub.

Marija Ristic Appointed as New BIRN Network Director

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Regional Network (BIRN Hub) has appointed Marija Ristic to the positon of Regional Network Director, to replace the current director, Gordana Igric.

Marija Ristic has been appointed as BIRN’s Regional Network Director, effective from May 1 this year.

She will lead the BIRN Hub, which coordinates the BIRN network, dealing with editorial, training, operations and development, as well as developing, fundraising for and coordinating core regional projects.

Since its inception, BIRN has attracted exceptional professionals to its team who have helped the organisation over the years to flourish and become a trusted source of information, and Ristic is one of the foremost examples, said Gordana Igric, the current BIRN Regional Network Director.

“I feel confident that she will bring fresh ideas and new energy to the Network, as well as passionately guard the quality of programmes within the Hub,” Igric said.

Ristic started working for BIRN in 2011 as a journalist, contributing to the regional Balkan Transitional Justice programme. Topics related to facing the past, reconciliation and transitional justice have been at the core of her professional development.

In 2015, Ristic produced the award-winning documentary ‘The Unidentified’, which was screened across the Europe and the United States.

She also made BIRN one of the first media organisations in the Western Balkans to initiate regular reporting about violent extremism, populism and propaganda under the regional Resonant Voices Initiative, which also involved training journalists to cover these topics.

“It is a privilege and an honour to lead such an exceptional team of professionals who have been at the forefront of defending media freedoms, human rights and setting the highest journalistic standards across the Western Balkans region,” Ristic said.

Ristic has significant expertise and knowledge related to media, transitional justice, human rights, democratic processes and EU integration.

She has also been actively involved in organisational development, fundraising and expanding the organisation’s influence regionally and abroad over the past several years.

Ristic is a graduate of the Geneva Academy for International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. She has received numerous awards and scholarships from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the OSCE, Zoran Djindjic Foundation and the Research Council of Norway. She is currently a fellow at the Free University in Berlin, Germany enrolled in the European Journalism Fellowship programme, researching universal jurisdiction.

Gordana Igric, the outgoing Regional Network Director, set up BIRN in 2004, and over the past 14 years has overseen its growth from a handful of employees to around 150, with six offices in the Western Balkans, journalistic coverage from 13 countries, and 16 websites in English and local languages.