Topic 2018: Truth

In an era of fake news and “alternative facts”, the theme of this year’s fellowship is TRUTH. Do you have a lie to expose, a myth to shatter or a deception to deconstruct? Can you bring clarity and insight to a complex or confusing story?

Many journalists enter the profession to shine a light on truth. But in a post-truth world of echo chambers, filter bubbles and misinformation campaigns, faith in journalism as a beacon of veracity is under assault.

This is your chance to put TRUTH back in the frame, through fact-based, objective reporting.

This year’s theme lends itself to story ideas that dig for root causes and challenge falsehoods. It also speaks to the news values we expect fellows to hold dear: accuracy, impartiality, independence.

Is there a story you have always wanted to write or an investigation you dream of conducting? Can you link it to the topic? The trick is to start with a strong central proposal, even if it is only loosely connected to the theme. We want stories that get under the skin of a subject and bring understanding.

Maybe your approach is to get to the TRUTH by following the money. Can you track dirty cash or uncover organised crime and corruption? Can you scrutinise the interests of big business? Put a number on lobbying? Find foul play in the markets? Is there a story in the murky world of cryptocurrencies?

Perhaps consider TRUTH in political terms. Is there a political mystery that needs solving? Can you add substance to a political debate characterised by misunderstanding or mendacity?

Can you hold dishonest power to account? Unpick populism? Decode the high-frequency signals of dog-whistle politics?

Maybe your story idea involves a social phenomenon or trend. Perhaps it addresses attitudes based on misconceptions or delusions. Can you explore the beliefs and prejudices that undermine peace, stability and social justice?

Perhaps your idea involves the baggage of the past. In a region riven by divisions and haunted by historical ghosts, truth and reconciliation go hand in hand.

Or maybe your story is about the media industry itself: the war on truth, attacks on press freedom or the erosion of trust in the Fourth Estate. It might touch on media ownership, control or innovation.

Whatever your idea, this is an opportunity to be ambitious with your reporting. The Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence prizes nuance over superficiality. Your story should have an investigative or analytical edge. It should have a strong narrative that takes readers on a journey. It should bristle with characters and colour.

This is also a chance to make a local topic resonate with an international audience. Your proposal should have a cross-border element. Can you compare the experience of your country with others in the region or elsewhere in Europe? Does it touch on themes central to EU politics, reform or human rights?

Above all, we are looking for something new — a revelation or elucidation. As you tackle the theme of TRUTH, tell us why it matters. What is at stake? Why should your readers care?

This is a rare opportunity to get the time and editorial support to do justice to your story idea through long-form journalism. We encourage you to be bold with your proposal. If you could write the story of your life, what would it be?