About the Alumni Initiative

The Alumni Initiative is designed to encourage and support continued cooperation between fellows who have participated in the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, established in 2007.

The alumni project is supported by Prague Freedom Foundation and ERSTE Foundation in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

“The Alumni initiative is a unique platform for continuous knowledge sharing and networking among journalists from the Balkan region. It is a place for smart partnerships and high quality reporting across borders, setting a benchmark for future generations of journalists."

Knut Neumayer, ERSTE Foundation, Programme Director 

“For any journalist it is incredible important to have a strong network. Stronger network journalist has, lauder voice she/he has. I believe that the Balkan Fellowship Alumni Initiative is extremely important and builds on the momentum of the Balkan Fellowship by connecting journalists in the Balkans. It gives them a chance to meet and further develop their articles and to report on topics they might not be able to otherwise. We believe that the Alumni Initiative is an irreplaceable part of the entire Balkan Fellowship."

Veronika Rozmahelova, Prague Freedom Foundation, Director

Generations of journalists have taken part in the annual fellowship programme and are now working together on joint projects under the umbrella of the Alumni Initiative.

Alumni attend biannual meetings and discuss current issues related to the media situation in the region, as well as possibilities for enhancing joint initiatives. These meetings are opportunity to discuss and pitch story ideas. Alongside producing co-authored, regional stories, the journalists may also write individual investigative and analysis pieces through Balkan Fellowship Follow-up Fund.

Topics are selected by the BIRN editorial team according to the following criteria: regional relevance, feasibility, originality and high journalistic standards.

“It is impossible to overstate the impact of this programme on the quality of journalism across the region. As many Balkan countries struggle to acclimatise to new economic conditions, EU membership and recover from recent wars, the Alumni Initiative enables local journalists to examine key economic, political and social issues in their own country and, through cooperation with other fellowship alumni, compare them to neighbouring states.”

Gordana Igric, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, Director


Prague Freedom Foundation

PFF is an independent charitable foundation located in Prague. Prague Freedom Foundation provides financial support to individuals, public and private universities and organizations that promote freedom of the press and encourage independent journalism. 

ERSTE Foundation

ERSTE Foundation is active in the Central and South East European region. Together with its partners, it creates a hive of activity for common good. Founded in 2003, it began its work two years later by developing three programmes: Social Development, Culture and Europe. ERSTE Foundation is the legal successor to the 190-year-old “Erste oesterreichische Spar-Casse”, the first Austrian savings bank. Its two commitments are based on these historical roots: as the major shareholder ERSTE Foundation safeguards the future of Erste Group as an independent company and invests its dividend to support the common good.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) is a regional media development organisation, working with Balkan journalists to produce reports on a variety of political, economic and social issues. Its member organisations throughout the region run a range of training and public debate projects to enhance the capacity and impact of analytical and investigative journalism. Together, they produce Balkan Insight, the leading publication covering the region’s path to Europe.

The Alumni Network

What is the Alumni Network?

The Alumni Network is an ever-expanding group of journalists who have all participated in the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.


Turkey and the Balkans

The re-emergence of Turkey as a growing economic, political and religious power in the Balkans is the subject of the latest Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence Alumni Initiative project.

Roma Decade

Twelve countries, including several Balkan states, have signed up to the European Roma Decade 2005-2015 initiative. Halfway through the decade, has any real progress been made?

News and Events

29 Nov 2014 / 20:44

BIRN Fellowship First Prize Goes to Jeta Abazi

The top prize in the 2014 Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence has been awarded to Jeta Abazi, journalist from Kosovo at a closing ceremony held in Belgrade, on Friday.