On 13 December 2019 the jury of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence (BFJE), of which ESI's Kristof Bender is a member, met in Vienna to award the prizes for 2019.
The first prize went to Ani Sandu from Romania for her investigation, Blind Justice for Romania's Trafficked Roma Children, revealing the scale and complexity of an alleged criminal enterprise in the Romanian town of Tandarei, where investigators say local gangsters have trafficked scores of children into a life of forced criminality.
Kosovo journalist Shkumbin Ahmetxhekaj, an editor at Kosovo Public Television, won the second prize for Brain Drain: Will the Last Doctor in Kosovo Turn Out the Lights, an investigation into the impact of medical brain drain in Kosovo.
Ten journalists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia spent more than six months pursuing in-depth stories and investigations, working closely with two highly experienced editors (Timothy Large and Neil Arun).
Soon you will find the stories of all the fellows at the site of the fellowship programme.
In 2020, the fellowship programme will expand to include journalists from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia
- BIRN, Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence 2019 - Winners Chosen (13 December 2019)
- Ana Sandu, Blind Justice for Romania's Trafficked Roma Children (11 December 2019)
- Shkumbin Ahmetxhekaj, Brain Drain: Will the Last Doctor in Kosovo Turn Out the Lights (4 December 2019)
- Kostas Zafeiropoulos, Alexander the Bot: The Twitter War for the Macedonian Soul (18 December 2019)
- Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence website