Through an investigative story to an award
Awards of the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia given to two participants in a NetNovinar Training Center investigative reporting program for exceptional contribution to investigative reporting and three stories carried on the front pages of regional newspapers are just some of the successes of the program, which continues successfully in 2007.
The program’s primary donors, Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (SHC) and Open Society Fund B-H, donated funding for resumption of investigative reporting programs – Stories on the Theme of Organized Crime and Public Institutions and Responsibility – in 2007.
Thus, a fifth generation of journalists from B-H, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo will have an opportunity in late June 2007 to complete training in NetNovinar Training Center’s most important and biggest program and to specialize in investigative reporting.
The investigative reporting program “Stories on the Theme of Organized Crime” started in 2004. This is the first long-term education program in investigative reporting in the region based on a blended learning method – a combination of classical workshops and online education using special distance learning software.
The program provides support to investigative reporters from South East Europe through the educational web portal NetNovinar.org, which features a special section on investigative reporting in the B/C/S languages and English. The section offers journalists educational articles, investigative stories, publications and useful online tools for news investigations.
The program was attended by 57 journalists from the region – 11 journalists from B-H, 10 from Croatia, and 26 from Serbia. The present group of participants attending the program, due to exceptional interest, also includes 3 participants from Macedonia and 1 participant from Kosovo.
Three stories made by the program participants featured on front pages of newspapers in the region, 9 stories were published in print media in the region, and the program participants Đorđe Padejski and Branislav Grković won Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) awards for exceptional contribution to investigative reporting in the category of young print journalists.
Đorđe Pedejski’s investigative story “Serbia: Open Hunt for Protected Species” demonstrated that prohibited hunting for protected bird species in Vojvodina unfolds unhindered and in a very organized fashion and that this business brings fantastic profits.
“I learned in the investigative reporting program how to ‘extract’ concealed information from state officials in line with the principle of availability of information, how to ‘read’ documents, who and when to ask the right question, how to protect myself, how to get a broader picture on an investigated issue from colleagues from a neighboring country, and how to ‘steal’ story elements,” says Đorđe Padejski, journalist with “Zrenjaninske Novine,” and adds that the program is one of those kinds of education after which nothing is the same.
“Several months after the publication of my story ‘Serbia: Open Hunt for Protected Species,’ I received a national journalism award given to me on 3 May, International Media Freedom Day,” says Đorđe Padejski.
You can read Đorđe Padejski’s series on hunting for protected bird species in Vojvodina here.
Investigating for the story “Cyber Crime – Predators from Anonymity,’ Branislav Grković discovered that laws in Serbia do not treat possession of child pornography as a crime, after which the Belgrade weekly Vreme published the story across four pages on 8 February 2007. On 3 May 2007, International Media Freedom Day, for this story the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia handed Branislav Grković an award for investigative reporting in the under 35 category.
The jury citation states that the article: “Comprehensively investigated and explained the phenomenon of trafficking in pornographic material involving children on the internet and revealed an inadequacy in the Serbian law regulating this field.”
Branislav Grković maintains that the quality of the investigative reporting program is reflected in insistence on respect for ethical principles in journalism.
“In consultation with trainers and with their help while writing the story, I illuminated the story from all aspects, which I never would have done by myself,” says Branislav Grković.
You can read the story “Cyber Crime – Predators from Anonymity” here.
The story “Money Laundering will be Punished Again” by Andreja Kasanić, published on the front page of Večernji List, resulted in a provision on punishment of money laundering committed by an individual being reinstated in the Penal Code of the Republic of Croatia. Andreja believes this is a serious and high quality program which enables journalists to look at selected news themes from all angles.
“With constant assistance and supervision, you can easily get a quality and exclusive story,” said Andreja. You can read her story, published on the front page of Večernji List, here.
The story “Armed People: Research on the Amount of Registered and Unregistered Personal Weapons in Serbia,” by Danijela Vukosavljević and Dušan Telesković, published on the front page of Politika, reveals the fact that the Serbian nation possesses around 2 million pieces of registered and unregistered small-caliber weapons.
“The program is excellent. The practical work resulting in the article published in three parts in my newsroom received excellent marks from my editorial board, and what is even more important for me is that everything I learned in the program I continue to use in my news work,” says Danijela.
When she started attending the investigative reporting program, Mirjana Jevtović was a journalist of the paper Danas and in the meantime she started working as a journalist for the multi-awarded program “Insider” on TV B92.
“I am here for the most part thanks to learning at the NetNovinar Training Center the techniques of synopsis writing and interview techniques and this is a very important school for me. I believe that the techniques I learned in the investigative reporting program will in the future continue to contribute to the fact that we keep producing a good TV show,” says Mirjana Jevtović.
A participant in the program “Investigative Reporting and Organized Crime,” Marija Mikolić, after working on her investigation for just two months, got a story headline on the front page of the Zagreb-based Večernji List on 27 October 2006 by uncovering documentation about judges who withdrew their money from a collapsed savings and loan association through real estate when “ordinary” savers could not do that.
“I learned how to find and use the necessary information during my investigation for the story. Thanks to my engagement while writing the story, I advanced professionally in my media outlet,” said Marija Mikolić. You can read the story “Dossier - Loan Association Virovitica” here.
NetNovinar – Center for Investigative Reporting and Media Education (founders: Mediacentar Sarajevo & Investigative Journalism Center, Zagreb) has organized a large number of specialized workshops for journalists. In the last 6 months it successfully organized the following commercial workshops:
• Pjer Žalica’s Master Workshop: Documentary Film• Mustafa Mustafić’s Master Workshop: Camera• Aleksandar Hemon’s Master Workshop: Writing for an Audience – Literature and Journalism
NetNovinar Training Center also organized Gordana Svirac’s Master Workshop, “Development of an Effective Media Marketing Plan,” the first commercial workshop held in the region in the area of media management. In the coming period it will organize the following workshops:• Strategic Media Business Plan• Media Management Plan• Media Financial Management• Master Workshop: Narrative Journalism