The Fellowship Endgame

Jelena Kulidzan Podgorica

After three months of research, 300 sent emails, 30 interviews, days of reading and quite a few stress symptoms, Jelena Kulidzan completes her Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence story. Was it worth the 2,500 words?

When I applied for the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme the only thing I was sure about was my topic. The how, who, why, when and where were questions without any clear answers.

The truth is that it has not been easy. At the beginning, I had problems with getting the facts and the right contacts. Conversely, at the end of my research period, I found I had too much material and too much information.

Naturally, I wanted to publish it all, as I got everything the hard way.

My many conversations with public authorities have served to make my nerves stronger! But at least quite a few British state officers and civil service workers are now aware that a country called Montenegro exists.

However, while I was not terribly surprised when Britons asked me to explain exactly where I come from, it was quite a shock to find some Serbian officials giving me the brush off.

I really did not expect the response I got, should I say lack of response, from some of the Serbian state officials. After six emails and ten phone calls to Serbia’s state prosecution office public relations service, I am yet to receive a reply.

On the other hand, I was honoured to interview rape survivors who were brave enough to go through the worst experience of their lives once again, in order to improve public awareness of just what it means to survive a sexual attack.

I have learned that rape is an indescribably traumatic experience that stays with the victim for life. Appropriate punishments for rapists will never take the pain away, but it can help stop victims feeling even worse.

This research also gave me the opportunity to visit London and Brussels for the first time.

Learning how to use city maps, as previously I have always had somebody with me, was a priceless experience! At first, the ‘just my Dictaphone and me’ situation seemed frightening. Working by myself, without a cameraman or producer, I realised what I am capable of and where my limits are.

I might have only got to the beach three times this summer – fellow Montenegrins will understand from that alone just how little time I had for enjoying our coast – but yes, it was all worth 2,500 words.

Now I am just hoping that the publication of my story will prove it.

Jelena Kulidzan is a Podgorica-based journalist who is participating in the 2011 Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.

She will be writing regular updates on her investigation into how rape cases are prosecuted in Montenegro, the Balkans and European Union member states.

Fellow Bio


Jelena Kulidžan

Jelena Kulidžan works for Vijesti, a private TV broadcaster in Montenegro. Her main tasks including daily reporting but she also works as the co-editor and presenter of Prime Time News. 


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