06 Sep 2011 / 15:44

ERSTE Stiftung Community Gathers in Alpbach

Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence alumni joined artists, journalists, researchers and activists taking part in ERSTE Foundation’s annual get together at the Tyrolean village of Alpbach.

Fellowship alumni participated in the third annual ERSTE Foundation Community meeting and ideas exchange held in Austria’s famed Tyrolean region.

ERSTE Foundation gathered its partners across different projects, including the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, over the last weekend in August.

NGO campaigners, artists, researchers and journalists took part in the three-day interdisciplinary brainstorming event held 975 metres above sea level in the Tyrolean village of Alpbach.

The community meeting takes place during the renowned European Forum Alpbach international conference. This year’s forum topic was justice.

More than 100 people attended the community meeting ; including fellows Adrian Mogos, Barbara Matejcic, Maja Hrgovic, Milorad Ivanovic and Majlinda Aliju, as well as fellowship programme manager Dragana Obradovic.

Participants gave and heard presentations and speeches and took part in discussions on European foreign policy. They also exchanged views, ideas and contacts.
The ERSTE Foundation Community is a constantly expanding network of organisations and individuals. It was established in order to facilitate the exchange of ideas and dialogue across central and eastern Europe.

Milorad Ivanovic, a 2007 fellow who has attended all three community meetings, said: “The way to find out who we are, and to test the value of our work is to interact with people who are looking at things from different perspective because they are going to push buttons that nobody pushed before. Relations with people of another culture, interests and professions can be painful, but are beneficial because through them we learn a lot."

Barbara Matejcic, who took part in the 2009 fellowship, reflected: "The ERSTE Community meeting was a precious chance for me as a journalist to meet experts on different fields related to social work. If I want to write about trafficking in Macedonia, poverty in Austria or the community foundation movement in Romania, now I know precisely to whom I should address my questions."

The ERSTE meeting was held on the margins of the European Forum Alpbach, attendees included the Somali writer Nuruddin Farah.

Farah said: "This year's Alpbach event showed that justice has many faces and that it usually cannot be reduced to binary couples such as villain - victim, crime - punishment; that justice is layered and human, rather than godlike and godsend. And that is what is terrifying: learning, for example, that the piracy in Somalia has a pre-history in cruel western economic exploitation of local fishermen.”

Maja Hrgovic
, a 2009 fellow, said: “Things that make us rise above binary oppositions and think wider, those are the lessons we profit from most.”

Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence alumni are offered a chance to publish their impressions on the Forum and the state of international justice on programme media partner Der Standard’s website.


About Us

In order to foster quality reporting, initiate regional networking among journalists and advance balanced coverage on topics that are central to the region as well as to the EU, the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme  is supported by the ERSTE Foundation and the Open Society Foundations, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN.

What is the Fellowship?

Journalists from the Balkans are increasingly required to cover complex reform issues, taking in a regional and Europe-wide dimension. The fellowship provides editorial guidance, training and adequate funding to do so.

Our Partners

Prominent German, Austrian and Swiss newspapers, Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, Der Standard and Neue Zürcher Zeitung are media partners of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme. Besides being involved in the selection committee, they participate in seminars, support fellows if needed and seek to republish the best articles produced by them.

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Selection Committee

The Selection Committee is comprised of seven prominent media figures from the Balkans and Europe. Each year, committee members read, evaluate and select story proposals for the fellowship.

Fellowship Team

Editors and journalists from across the region and beyond all work together to make the Balkan fellowship a truly international experience. Scroll down this page for more information on our editorial team.