9 December 2016
Pristina - Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence
Kristof with Elvis Nabolli, winner of the third price for his article "An Albanian War on Drugs" on the failures of Albania's institutions to fight marihuana growers. Photo: BIRN
Kristof with Elvis Nabolli, winner of the third price for his article "An Albanian War on Drugs" on the failures of Albania's institutions to fight marihuana growers. Photo: BIRN

On 9 December 2016 ESI's Kristof Bender participated in the jury for the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, awarded by Erste Stiftung, the Open Society Foundation and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network BIRN. The three winners were:

1. Serbeze Haxhiaj (Pristina, Kosovo), Hiding in Plain Sight - Kosovo's Protected Witnesses, published 14 February 2017

A new court faces old problems in protecting witnesses to a dark chapter in Kosovo's fight for freedom

2. Masenjka Bacic (Split, Croatia), Abortion Rights under Fire in Croatia, published 30 November 2016

Croatian women struggle to exercise their right to abortion, driven into the shadows and illegality by the rise of a hostile conservatism.

3. Elvis Nabolli (Shkoder, Albania), An Albanian War on Drugs, published 16 November 2016

Albania is uprooting cannabis at an unprecedented rate, but endemic corruption and a failure to target the kingpins behind a multi-billion-euro industry give the lie to the NATO member's 'war on drugs'

For this fellowship, each year ten Balkan journalists are competitively chosen to receive funding and professional support to conduct their own research project. The fellowship features an introductory seminar in Vienna, mentorship of each fellow's research and reporting, individual research trips to countries of the region and the EU, as well as a concluding seminar and award ceremony.

Experienced editors from the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network provide hands-on support to fellows throughout their work, while seminars ensure that fellows learn about current issues of concern in the EU and the region, meet important social, political and economic actors and establish contact with media professionals.

Fellowship reports are disseminated widely in all local languages as well as in English and German, and published in an e-book which assembles the ten works that have been produced in the course of the fellowship year.

new call for 2017 is open until 8 March 2017.

The fellows of 2016. Photo: BIRN
The fellows of 2016. Photo: BIRN
About us
Photo credits
Alan Grant is an Irish photographer who travelled extensively in the Balkans and other countries and regions of the world. Thanks to him, ESI is able to show fascinating pictures of the Balkans: the facades of Tirana, the painted mosques of Travnik, the fabulous old houses of Plovdiv and the spectacular blue of water - dark in the Bay of Kotor, emerald in the river valleys of Bosnia, deep blue in Ohrid, twinkling in the Aegean Sea and on the Bosporus.

You can find out more about Alan Grant on his websites:
Jonathan Lewis lives between London and Istanbul. He moved to London and spent many years studying photography and now specialises in photojournalism, documentary photography and commercial work for a wide variety of private and commercial clients in the UK, Europe and Turkey. His work has appeared in a number of magazines and publications and is used on the ESI website as well.

You can find out more about Jonathan Lewis on his website www.jonathanlewisphoto.com