The European Commission supported BIRN to create a systematic and sustainable model to enable journalists to produce relevant, high-quality content independently, ensuring that citizens gain broad perspectives on issues of public importance and increasing the trust in media.

The model established by BIRN and its partners has proven to be successful during the past four years. It includes capacity building of mid-career and young journalists, ensuring the quality of the journalism study programmes within formal education for generations to come, supporting the production of quality news, TV and cross-border investigation stories, including support from an investigative resource desk and promoting those stories through EU awards.

The project aims to provide structural support to media freedom and media integrity in the following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Türkiye.

Core activities

National and regional training scheme: 15 national training sessions will be delivered for journalists in a format of e-courses, offline and online training and workshops. Two training camps for young journalists will be organised, provided in a form of vocational training, as well as creating an opportunity for young journalists to produce original news content. The national and regional training scheme will ensure young and mid-career journalists are equipped to professionally engage in quality news reporting and investigative journalism.

Regional training scheme: Two regional trainings on investigative journalism/ fact checking will be conducted, followed by mentorship for journalist participants who will produce at least 20 fact-checking stories. Two Summer Schools on Investigative Reporting are planned to be supported alongside three regional training camps on different topics, including legally safe reporting and crisis reporting.

Regional exchange programme: One exchange curriculum will be designed and delivered through two regional exchange programmes that will result in the development and publication of 24 in-depth stories.

Digital Security Scheme: This is planned to serve as a resource for up to 500 journalists, providing technical assistance to journalists through the tools and services they need to bridge the technological gaps between their skills and the production of an investigative story.

Production and publishing of quality news and investigative stories in mainstream and public service media: This will be ensured through providing support for the development and publication of articles, TV stories and a cross-border documentary.

Production of cross-border investigations: With the aim of enhancing cooperation between journalists in the Western Balkans, on-the-job mentoring and editorial support will be organized that will result in cross-regional multimedia content published in English and local languages.

Development of pilot programme for investigative journalism academic training: A pilot training programme for investigative journalism and an investigative journalism academic training programme will be developed. Systemic consultations with universities and journalism schools in the region will be established after which a roadmap for formal accreditation at MA level will follow.

EU Award Scheme: A continuation of the ongoing regional EU Investigative Journalism Awards in the Western Balkans and Turkey. Under the scheme, 63 prizes will be awarded over 36 months – three in each project country. A regional awarding scheme will be launched through which nine regional EU Prizes will be awarded.