BIRN Journalists Win Serbian Investigative Reporting Award

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The Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia and the US Embassy in Belgrade have awarded BIRN journalists Slobodan Georgiev and Aleksandar Djordjevic the 2014 prize for investigative journalism in the print media category.

Georgiev and Djordjevic won the award for their report entitled ‘Marketing Stars in the Political Field’, which was published in the weekly magazine Vreme in March 2014. The investigation showed how Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s party entered the advertising market after coming to power in 2012, pushing out the Democrats who previously held a dominant influence in this sector.

The journalists were presented with the awards, which carry a $1,200 prize, by US ambassador Michael Kirby at a ceremony on Thursday.

Kirby said that he respects the work of the Serbian prime minister and changes to the Serbian media laws, but also said that “these laws do not cover the biggest challenge for the media, and that’s lack of money. Media need money to survive, provide salaries to journalists, but also to pay other bills.”

Separate prizes were also awarded in two other categories, electronic and online media.

The electronic media (radio and television) award went to Vesna Radojevic and Andjela Milivojevic from TV Mreza and the Centre for Investigative Reporting in Serbia (CINS) for their story about a housing swindle.

The online media award was given to Dragana Peco, Dino Jahic and Jasna Fetahovic from CINS for an article about corrupt practices in the awarding of prizes to Serbian business leaders, which was published on the website of CINS and CIN Sarajevo in August 2013. Jahic is an alumnus of BIRN’s Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.

Another BIRN Serbia journalist Ana Novakovic, was nominated in the online media category together with Georgiev, for their story ‘TV Viewers Force Fed State Spin’ about the Serbian state hiring three private companies to produce material that TV stations use for free without informing viewers that it is not news, but PR.

The winners were chosen by a jury composed of journalist and media consultant Sasa Lekovic, director of the Center for Investigative Reporting Branko Cecen, ‘Insajder’ TV show journalist Ivan Angelovski, and investigative journalist and editor of Novi Magazin Milorad Ivanovic.