25 Nov 2011 / 21:18

Bulgarian Journalist Wins 2011 Balkan Fellowship

Juliana Koleva, a journalist from Bulgaria takes first place in the 2011 Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence for her story about the treatment of asylum seekers in the region.

Juliana Koleva, Stevan Dojcinovic and Jelena Kulidzan.

The top prize for this year’s Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence has been won by Juliana Koleva for her article Bulgarian Asylum Policy Pushes Migrants West.

Koleva, an editor and reporter for national daily Bulgarian newspaper Dnevnik, won 4,000 euros in prize money.

Second place, and a 3,000 euro award went to Jelena Kulidžan from Montenegro for her article Rough Justice for Balkan Rape Victims.

Stevan Dojčinović took third place, winning a 1,000 euro prize, for his investigation entitled Serbian Privatisation: Criminals Still Cashing In.

The three prize-winners were announced at an awards ceremony hosted by the Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE Foundation in Berlin on Friday, November 25, 2011.

The winning articles were selected by an independent panel of judges including Nerma Jelačić, media spokesperson for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Gerald Knaus, president of the European Stability Initiative think tank, Remzi Lani, executive director of the Albanian Media Institute, Milorad Ivanović, executive editor of Serbia’s Novi Magazine, Christiane Schlötzer, deputy foreign editor of Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung and Gerfried Sperl, columnist and consultant editor for Austrian daily Der Standard.

Members of the jury praised the overall quality of reporting but said the top three prize winners had chosen topics that were not only largely unexplored within the mainstream Balkan media but would also trigger debate among the wider public.

All members of the committee stressed it was “extremely difficult” to choose the winning three but noted Koleva’s asylum piece explored a topic that is rarely covered by the media. They also underlined her story mixed facts, statistics and colourful quotes from a range of interviewees including officials and asylum seekers in an engaging and appropriate way.

The jury also praised Kulidžan’s story about rape sentencing as “taboo breaking” in a small, patriarchal society. They said her comparison to Serbia and the UK was also well handled.

On Dojčinović’s article on how criminals can still profit from Belgrade’s troubled privatisation process, committee members stressed this was a real investigation and cited the comparison to sales in Poland as particularly good and appropriate.

The topic for this year’s fellowship was justice, and fellows investigated subjects ranging from employment law, rape sentencing, poorly-managed privatisation and extradition within the region.

Click here for more on the ten journalists who took part in the programme.

Initiated by the Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE Foundation in 2007, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, the annual fellowship provides financial and professional support to foster quality reporting in the Balkan region.

“Both the journalists’ work and the topic, justice, highlighted the problem Balkan countries have dealing with judicial institutions and lack of independence. This phenomenon is deeply rooted and leaves ordinary citizens unable to trust the authorities.

“The fellows also got the chance, through participating in this programme, to compare the situation in other regional and developed EU countries and inform their local readership about what can be done,” said Gordana Igric, director, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

“We strongly believe in opportunities for journalists from southeastern Europe to improve their professional skills and to have the possibility to conduct in-depth investigative research with an international dimension outside their daily commitments within their respective media outlets. We are happy to have supported this programme, together with our partners, for five years and will continue to do so,” said Robin Gosejohann, project manager, ERSTE Foundation.

Additionally, the programme encourages regional networking among journalists and provides balanced coverage on complex reform issues that are central to the region and the European Union.

“Through the Program, the Fellows get the opportunity to gain new perspectives on their neighbouring countries and the European Union through personal experience. We hope to build a regional network of journalists they can rely on in their daily work,” said Sandra Breka, Head of the Berlin Office of the Robert Bosch Stiftung. 

This year’s ten fellows were selected from more than 120 applicants from nine Balkan countries.

Next year’s programme will be open for applications from early 2012 for more information contact the fellowship team via the website contacts page.


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.

Contact Us

Please contact us for any additional information about the programme, or if you have suggestions, remarks or complaints about the web site and its content

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.