Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, Serbia

Publish Date: Feb 05, 2016

Deadline: Mar 01, 2016

Do you have an idea for a big story? Do you want to write and report it to the highest standards, with quality editorial support and a generous expenses budget that lets you explore your subject in depth? Would you like that story to be published across southeast Europe and perhaps make international impact?

If the answer to these questions is 'yes', now is the time to apply for the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.

Each year, ten journalists are chosen through open competition to receive funding and professional support to conduct in-depth research into a topic of regional and EU significance – for 2016 the subject is Trust.


The Balkan news media are increasingly required to report on complex reform issues with regional and European dimensions. Journalists, however, are under-prepared to tackle these, lacking resources for appropriate training and foreign travel.

To encourage regional networking among journalists and advance balanced coverage of topics that are central to the region as well as to the EU, ERSTE Foundation and the Open Society Foundations are supporting the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

The programme

Ten fellows from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia will be selected on the basis of applications submitted. The fellowship will run from April until December 2016and three winners shall be selected during the final seminar held at the end of the year.

Fellows are expected during this period to produce one in-depth journalistic article of around 2,500 words, based on the research proposal they submit. Editorial guidance and control shall be provided by BIRN.

The fellowship programme involves the following elements:

  1. Fellowship bursary of €2,000 per selected fellow
  2. Introductory seminar in Vienna, with regional and international speakers (April 2016)
  • Grant of up to €2,000 for research expenses, including one regional trip and one trip within the EU, with guidance and organisational support provided by programme partners
  1. On-going mentoring and support from programme editor and BIRN representatives in Balkan countries
  2. Two-day editing sessions in the region (September /October 2016)
  3. Final evaluation seminar and award ceremony inthe region (December 2016)
  • Worldwide publication of reports in all local languages and English (November /December 2016)
  • Membership of fellowship alumni network


The selection committee judges the quality of the reports and awards prizes to three fellows. The top prize-winner will win €4,000, the second will receive €3,000 and the third €1,000.



1.1. Who can participate?

Individuals from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia with demonstrable journalistic experience are eligible to apply for the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence. Applicants should have citizenship of one of the countries covered by the programme. Applicants should be proficient in English (speaking, reading and comprehension), although reports may be written in local languages.

1.2 Employer consent

Applicants must be able to dedicate adequate time to the fellowship, in terms of research, trips, attending the opening and closing seminars, writing and attending publicity events.To that end, any necessary permission from the applicant’s employer to participate in the fellowship should be secured in advance.


The theme for this year's fellowship is Trust. Use this topic to inspire a new idea for a story. Or think of a story you've wanted to write and see if you can link it to the topic.

Your story proposal must have a connection to the theme, even if it is a loose one. The theme is deliberately broad to allow a wide a range of story ideas.

You might want to write about a breach or breakdown of trust - for example, between a state institution and citizens, between a company and its shareholders or customers, or between communities. How did this happen and who is responsible?

For you as a journalist, public distrust of media outlets might be an issue. Or lack of trust between politicians and journalists. You might want to explore possible reasons behind this, such as the ownership of media organisations.

You may know a story of people finding that their trust was misplaced. Sometimes a loss of trust occurs when people feel their physical or economic security is under threat. Do they look elsewhere for someone or something they can trust?

Or you may have a story of efforts to rebuild trust - between nations, communities, organisations or individuals. How is this being done? What difficulties have people had to overcome?

A trust can also be an organisation that manages assets for the public good. Charities can be trusts too. Perhaps you have a story about an organisation like this? And a trust in the sense of "anti-trust legislation" can be a company that has or tries to gain a monopoly in a particular market. Do you know a good example of this?

Whatever your idea, remember that you must explore it not just in your home country. The fellowship offers the chance to examine an issue in different countries in the region and in the European Union. Do some research to see how the experiences of other countries fit into your story.

Your story should have an investigative or analytical element.

This opportunity has expired. It was originally published here:

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