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 ERSTE Foundation and the Robert Bosch Stiftung 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

“We believe the Alumni Initiative is an excellent opportunity to publish well balanced articles on relevant issues in the region. We encourage our fellows to build a regional network of professionals - and make use of it.”

Sandra Breka, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Head of Berlin office

Four 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.

Fellows attend biannual meetings with BIRN editors to discuss and pitch story ideas. Alongside producing co-authored, regional stories, the journalists may also write individual investigative and analysis pieces. The articles are promoted on the fellowship and Balkan Insight websites.

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

Robert Bosch Stiftung
Established in 1964, the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, is one of the major German foundations associated with a private company. It represents the philanthropic and social endeavours of founder Robert Bosch (1861 - 1942) and fulfils his legacy in a contemporary manner. The Robert Bosch Stiftung works predominantly in the fields of International Relations, Health and Education.

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

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20 Jun 2014 / 15:48

BIRN Fellowship Alumnus Vlad Odobescu Wins a Hubert Humphrey Fellowship

Vlad Odobescu, a Romanian investigative reporter and a participant in last year’s Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, has won a Hubert Humphrey Fellowship in the United States.