Project news & updates

EJC Leads CAR Course in Bosnia-Herzegovina

13 June 2009 | PROJECT NEWS


Set in the Bosnia-Herzegovinan city of Mostar, the EJC led its first advanced computer assisted reporting course over three days earlier this month. The project was funded by the Fritt Ord Foundation of Norway and implemented by EJC local partner, Media Centar Sarajevo

Veteran Aftenposten daily newspaper journalists Jan Gunnar Furuly and Per Anders Johansen led the course. They focused on providing the latest in practical tools to investigative journalists from the West Balkans. The group of 15 was selected specifically by the trainers for their aptitude from three earlier courses run in the region. 

The journalists were all from print/electronic media from Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. According to Josh LaPorte, senior project manager at the EJC, there was a good reason to do an advanced course for journalists from the earlier groups: “We wanted to go deeper with this kind of project and really focus on those journalists who are most motivated to do the hard-hitting investigative stories that are so important to maintaining transparency in government and business in the region. The long-term idea is to build up a network of journalists that can be part of the same professional peer group as our trainers.” 

Participants discussed recently published investigative pieces and how new online tools such as Twitter, Google maps can couple with database research and self-surveys to deepen and make any news story more relevant. Working groups were utilised during the seminar so teams could come up with scenarios for tackling new types of investigations, looking into cybercrime, for example, with each team writing mock stories and presenting to the group. 

A constant refrain was the lack of resources available to journalists in the Balkans where budgets and salaries are tight. The trainers paid attention to this on the final day, presenting low-cost ways of doing investigations and emphasising the importance of building networks among investigative journalists in the region. They also discussed utilising the region’s new freedom of information laws whenever possible to obtain data from local government institutions free of charge. Other options discussed during this component were organisations that make grants available to journalists in the West Balkans for extended investigative projects, such as Scoop. 

A project website will be established to maintain such a network of journalists in the region. A follow-up course for five participants to do an actual investigation in Norway later this year is in the works.

New Approaches for New Journalism in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Striving to strengthen local media’s reporting capacity and to promote investigative journalism as means to address issues of corruption and good governance, the EJC and its local partner, Mediacentar Sarajevo, put in a place a programme that boosted media training for professional journalists and journalism students.

MATRA, Societies in Transition
MATRA, a programme of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, constituted an effort to support democratic transition in the Western Balkans, Central, and Eastern Europe, and strengthen the ties of the target countries with the Netherlands. The EJC participated in five media-related projects, from 1995 and up to the programme's conclusion in 2011.