What it Was Like in 2011
During the second BIRN Summer School that was held in Opatija, Croatia from August 21-27 2011, BIRN gathered more than 30 trainers and 30 participants who spent six days engaging in vibrant discussion and practical training in investigative journalism techniques.
The lead trainer of the Summer School was Sheila Coronel, the Director and Professor of Professional Practice at Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University.
In addition to BIRN’s regular trainers Paul Radu, Drew Sullivan, Helen Darbishire, Gavin Rees and Randall Joyce, the well known British blogger Paul Bradshaw, Columbia University professor Jim Mintz, the database editor for the News and Current Affairs Department at Sveriges Television, the national broadcasting company in Sweden’s Helena Bengtsson and others were in attendance.
The biggest star among young participants was the Guardian’s senior journalist Nick Davies.
Thirty young journalists, investigative reporters and media experts participated. The majority of participants came from the Balkans, however, individuals from the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and other countries also attended.
The Summer School seeks to develop a combination of skills that are essential for reporters engaged in investigative journalism. 2011 participants learned techniques for conducting interviews, following money and paper trails and computer-assisted reporting (CAR).
Every year the Summer School addresses issues of corruption and organized crime through training sessions, practical work, case studies and panel discussions.
All participants were given the opportunity to gain financial funds for conducting an investigation. For five days, they were divided into groups and developed story ideas.
On the final day, five out of seven groups were chosen to receive funding for their investigations.
One team did particularly well with a story about a mass grave in Srebrenica and conducted an impressive investigation on Dutch soldiers and their involvement.
In addition to classes, participants enjoyed the lovely Croatian seaside and took a night boat trip on the last day, where diplomas were awarded to all participants.
The Second BIRN Summer School was organized with the help of the OSCE Mission in Serbia, the Open Society Institute-London, the US Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia, the Netherlands Embassy in Zagreb, Croatia and BIRN Kosovo.
Quotes form participants and trainers about the BIRN Summer School:
“The summer school was of great value because we had highly experienced lecturers and world renown investigative journalists who presented their experiences and techniques. Journalists from the region could see not only how the investigations are done by major news organisations, but also how we can use those experiences and techniques in our work.” – Snezana Lupevska, participant, Macedonia.
“A very good gathering of people. I have learned a lot from them. You had very experienced journalists and I was able to learn tips and tricks from them.” – Paul Radu, trainer, Romania.
“My experience with the Summer School was excellent. We have attended lectures from university professors and people who are involved in practicing investigative journalism all over the world. It is very useful and pleasant.” – Nihad Penava, participant, Bosnia and Herzegovina.