ESI's Kristof Bender participated in the jury for the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence 2017, awarded on 7 December in Budapest. The fellowship is an initiative of Erste Stiftung, the Open Society Foundation and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network BIRN. The three winners are:
First prize: Alexia Tsagkari (Greece), The Outliers (final version yet to be published)
How LGBT refugees relive persecution and abuse in Turkey and Geece on the journey to a safe haven.
Second prize: Octavian Coman (Romania), Fatal Inaction: How Measles Made a Comeback, published 6 December 2017
Romania's failure to prevent a deadly measles outbreak is a story of complacency, bungling and discrimination. It is also a cautionary tale for Europe.
Third prize: Vladimir Kostic (Serbia), Party Games: Hide and Seek with Election Cash, published 17 October 2017
Powerful parties in the Balkans are suspected of using proxy donors to fill campaign war chests with cash from secret sources. How authorities respond is a test of their independence.
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 articles that have been produced in the course of the fellowship year.
- BIRN, "Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence - 2017 winners chosen!", 11 December 2017.
- Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence (information about fellows, articles, the fellowship alumni initiative and more).