The Fellowship: ‘It Was Worth It!’

Juliana Koleva Sofia

The prize is not the most important thing, we are all winners and have also become more capable and self-confident, says 2011 fellow Juliana Koleva.

It was worth it! Now when the hard work is behind us - for me and for the BIRN team too - after months of research, conversations, interviews, after I have lived with this project, after writing, editing, writing, editing again …and hundreds of interesting acquaintances. Now I can only say – It was worth it and I want to do it again.

It was worth it because the story was published on the fellowship website, in Balkan Insight, in Al Jazeera English ,  in Macedonia’s  Utrinski Vesnik  and in the newspaper where I work, Dnevnik, where it provoked serious controversy. It raised many uncomfortable questions.

Questions like: Do refugees have rights at all? Why should they be able to claim anything  from our state? If they don`t like the conditions here, why they don’t go home?

The article also inspired confessions from some readers – including one from Australia – that their government also imprisons asylum seekers in closed centres and that they felt ashamed that vulnerable people are treated in this way.

Bulgaria is already having problems accommodating asylum seekers and needs to take action now before joining the European Union’s border-control free Schengen Zone, when the number of migrants is expected to rise dramatically.

I am hoping to continue researching and working on this topic, because there is so much to write and so many new developments on immigration and refugee issues.

So, I still want more of this kind of work, more projects like the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence that makes journalistic work more meaningful and makes you think it is worthwhile being a reporter.

I read with pleasure the other fellows articles and I look forward to seeing them at the final seminar in Berlin. We will be able to discuss our experiences and what we have achieved.

And, naturally, I am curious to see the final decision of the fellowship’s independent selection committee members who will vote on the top three investigations.

Not that for me the prize is the most important thing, we already had our reward by participating in the project and with being published outside our own countries.

We are all winners.

Fellow Bio


Juliana Koleva

Juliana Koleva has ten years’ experience as a reporter. Currently, she works on the domestic news desk for the daily Bulgarian business newspaper Dnevnik, mainly covering politics and parliament.


Topic 2011: Justice

The topic for this year’s programme is justice and fellows are investigating subjects as diverse as privatisation, organised crime, employment law, rape convictions and extradition treaties.


19 Dec 2011 / 16:56

Alumni Funding: Opportunities for Years to Come

Altin Raxhimi
19 Dec 2011 / 16:44

‘A Perfect Opportunity to Take Your Story a Level Further’

Nikoleta Popkostadinova
09 Nov 2011 / 10:41

The Fellowship: ‘It Was Worth It!’

Juliana Koleva
23 Sep 2011 / 12:38

Macedonia’s American Dream

Slobodanka Jovanovska
22 Sep 2011 / 09:55

EU Rules Benefit Croatian Jobseekers

Ruzica Matic
20 Sep 2011 / 10:51

The Fellowship Endgame

Jelena Kulidzan
14 Sep 2011 / 10:45

Sofia’s Schengen Compromise

Juliana Koleva
12 Sep 2011 / 12:44

The Story Ends, Almost

Elira Canga
08 Sep 2011 / 10:30

The Final Countdown

Dollores Benezic
03 Aug 2011 / 11:29

UK Rape Survivors Demand Justice

Jelena Kulidzan