Series on jihadists’ recruitment wins EU Award for Investigative Journalism

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 24, 2015 08:55

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  • Journalists of not-for-profit Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, Top Channel win EU-funded Albania awards

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The winning journalists with the head of the EU Delegation to Tirana. (Photo: Media Institute)

The winning journalists with the head of the EU Delegation to Tirana. (Photo: Albanian Media Institute)

TIRANA, July 19 - Journalists Aleksandra Bogdani and Flamur Vezaj have been awarded first prize in the EU Investigative Journalism Award 2014 for Albania contest, for their series of three articles on recruitment of Albanians fighting as jihadists in Syria, published in the Albanian publication of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network,, and republished in other newspapers and portals.

Second prize went to Juli Ristani of investigative program "Fiks Fare" of Top Channel TV for her story on judiciary treatment of drug users and smugglers.

The third place went to Besar Likmeta, also of BIRN Albania, for his story investigating the use of public funds by the Sali Berisha government in order to denigrate Edi Rama, then the leader of the opposition and today Albania's prime minister. The article was published in BIRN's English language publication,, and republished in other media.

A total of 19 investigative stories were nominated for this year's EU Award in Albania. The jury consisted of five prominent media professionals and civil society representatives: Lutfi Dervishi, media expert, Iris Luarasi, professor of journalism, Arben Muka, Deutsche Welle correspondent, Aleksander Cipa, head of Union of Albanian Journalists, and Zef Preci, Director of the Center for Economic Research.

"Investigative journalism in particular can play an incredible role in exposing wrongdoing, inspire reform, and ultimately change people's lives. I firmly believe that these awards we are announcing today will further contribute to the strengthening of media standards and ultimately become a benchmark for media quality in Albania," said the EU Head of Delegation, Ambassador Romana Vlahutin.

Remzi Lani, director of Albanian Media Institute, said: "This competition is an important encouragement to investigative journalism, which faces many difficulties and serious challenges in Albania, too. This year's winners, and not just them, but all participants, have shown that these difficulties and challenges can be overcome."

Lutfi Dervishi, chair of the jury, said that many of the applications were of good quality, and it was a difficult job for the jury to decide.

He also stressed the fact that many of the journalists were young, which is a good sign for the future of investigative journalism in the country.

The EU award for investigative journalism will be given each year in the period of three years in each of seven EU-Enlargement countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, rewarding the investigative journalistic work published in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Investigative stories contributing to transparency and reporting on societal issues related to abuse of power and fundamental rights, corruption and organized crime that otherwise would not have been brought to the public's attention will qualify for the award.

The award fund for seven beneficiary countries for three years in total is 210,000 euro. Annual award fund for each country is 10,000 euro; 1-3 journalists shall be awarded in each country each year; 3,000-5,000 euros per individual prize is to be awarded.

The award ceremony was held on July 16 at the Tirana Times Book House.


Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 24, 2015 08:55