Milica Stojanovic

Milica Stojanovic is a journalist for BIRN's Balkan Insight and Balkan Transitional Justice. She also regularly holds digital security training for local journalists in Serbia.

Before joining BIRN, Milica worked, for five years, at the Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS), where she covered topics such as the judiciary, energy and public spending. Prior to CINS, Milica worked as a journalist and the daily/weekend editor at the online news portal Telegraf.rs.

As a member of CINS team, she won the 2017 European Press Prize for investigative journalism. She got an annual award for investigative journalism in 2015 from the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia. She holds seven domestic and international awards in total, alone or as a member of CINS team, for stories about the judiciary, corruption, or the environment.

Milica has MA in Journalism from the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade. She speaks Serbian and English.

Claudia Ciobanu

Based in Warsaw, Claudia is a Balkan Insight correspondent reporting on political and social developments in Poland.

Claudia has been a journalist for a decade, starting out at the Romanian national daily, Cotidianul, before moving to cover Central and Eastern Europe as a freelancer for various international outlets. Her articles have appeared in The Guardian, Reuters and Al Jazeera. She is particularly interested in social movements, frontline communities and illiberal regimes.

Claudia won the first prize in the 2018 Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic excellence. She was a finalist in the Reporting Europe and One World Media awards.

She has MA in Political Science from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.

Sarah Cahlan

Sarah Cahlan is a video reporter for The Washington Post’s Visual Forensics team.

Before coming to The Post, she directed a short documentary about the historical inaccuracies of gender roles. As an NBC/NAHJ fellow, she reported, produced and wrote stories about science, tech and Latino culture. Cahlan has also covered health and the environment in California. 

Honors and Awards: 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service; 2021 Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia University Award; 2020 Webby Award for Best Individual Feature ; 2020 Online Journalism Award Features finalist; 2020 International Fact Checking Network for Best Format; 2019 North Gate Award for Excellence in Documentary Production; 2018 National Association of Black Journalists, Salute to Excellence; 2018 Excellence Award, Robert Whittington Award for Exceptional Reporting

Professional Affiliations: National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Simon Bowers

Simon Bowers is the investigations editor at the Finance Uncovered.

Simon Bowers is based in London. He joined Finance Uncovered in November 2020 after four years as European Co-Ordinator at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Before that he spent 19 years at The Guardian in the UK, where he was a senior reporter working on tax and financial investigations. Simon’s reporting has featured in some of the world’s most prestigious news media.

He has also given a TEDx talk on a collaborative investigation into Nike’s pan-European tax avoidance activities. He has been part of collaborative reporting teams that have won several awards, including three George Polk awards for Financial Journalism (Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, LuxLeaks) and a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting (Panama Papers).

Alexandra Heal

Alexandra Heal is a reporter in the Visual Storytelling Team, an interdisciplinary group of journalists combining data, design, coding and reporting skills.

The team focuses on projects where visual elements play an essential role in communicating the story, working on everything from investigations to explainers across the spectrum of news and features. Alexandra was previously a reporter at The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, where she won the Private Eye Paul Foot Award for Investigative Journalism for her series on domestic abuse by police officers and also reported on Brazilian deforestation for soya and beef in collaboration with Reporter Brasil and The Guardian.

Meg Kelly

Meg Kelly is a video reporter for The Washington Post’s Visual Forensics team.

Previously, she produced video and reported for The Post’s Fact Checker and covered the 2016 election for NPR as a visual producer. As Fulbright Scholar in India, she produced a multi-media exhibition and oral history project that explored the structure of Dharavi’s informal political and economic sectors. She has also reported on local politics, development and urban agriculture in New York City. 

She has received a number of honors and Aawards: Honorable Mention, Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, 2019; Fulbright-Nehru Scholar, 2010; U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholar for Punjabi, 2009

Meg Kelly has also written a book Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth: The President’s Falsehoods, Misleading Claims and Flat-Out Lies.

 

Sarah Cahlan

Sarah Cahlan is a video reporter for The Washington Post’s Visual Forensics team.

Before coming to The Post, she directed a short documentary about the historical inaccuracies of gender roles. As an NBC/NAHJ fellow, she reported, produced and wrote stories about science, tech and Latino culture. Cahlan has also covered health and the environment in California. 

Honors and Awards: 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service; 2021 Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia University Award; 2020 Webby Award for Best Individual Feature ; 2020 Online Journalism Award Features finalist; 2020 International Fact Checking Network for Best Format; 2019 North Gate Award for Excellence in Documentary Production; 2018 National Association of Black Journalists, Salute to Excellence; 2018 Excellence Award, Robert Whittington Award for Exceptional Reporting

Professional Affiliations: National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Applications Open for BIRN Summer School 2022 in Slovenia

Portoroz and its stunning coastline will be the setting for the BIRN’s Summer School for Investigative Reporting this August.

The 12th edition of the BIRN summer school will take place from August 22 to 28 in Portoroz and will gather top journalists and editors from Southeast and Central Europe and across the world to train reporters.

As part of the school, you will learn how to conduct open-source research, dig for big data, read complicated financial reports, convince difficult sources to talk and conduct cross-border investigations.

The training will provide a wealth of knowledge for both inexperienced and experienced investigative journalists. After training in the morning for all participants, break-out sessions in the afternoon will give you the choice to focus on more niche subjects – from illicit finance tracking to far-right groups and digital rights, among others.

Journalists will also receive training on digital security.

We are providing 30 full scholarships for selected participants. This will cover accommodation, meals as well as transportation expenses of up to 150 euros. Apart from the training, editorial support and mentorship, through our Investigative Initiative Story Fund, BIRN will provide participants with money to support story development and production.

Scholarships are offered to journalists from the following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Turkey.

Limited spots are also available for international participants who need to cover a fee of 700 euros. This includes the training curriculum and full board at the Boutique Hotel Portorose, where the summer school is taking place.

Portoroz belongs to the municipality of Piran in Slovenia, located in the southwest of the Gulf of Trieste between the boundaries of Italy to the north and Croatia to the south.

Applications close on July 31.

Click here to apply!

BIRN’s Investigative Summer School 2021 Opens in Croatia

For the 11th time, BIRN’s flagship Summer School of Investigative Reporting is bringing together journalists and award-winning trainers for a week-long programme intended to develop skills and explore new techniques.

This year’s Summer School of Investigative Reporting started on Monday in the Croatian coastal village of Mlini with lectures about how to use open-source investigative techniques and to trace the documents behind policy decisions.

During the week-long programme, 32 journalists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Romania, Turkey, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Moldova, Greece and Croatia will be acquiring new investigative skills and techniques but also working on real investigative reports.

For the first time this summer, the applicants had the chance to choose one of four course themes: Arms, Surveillance, Agriculture and Waste. During the week, they will be divided into four teams, led by trainers from BIRN and Lighthouse Reports, to investigate leads and produce cross-border stories.

Marija Ristic, the regional director of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and also one of the lead trainers, welcomed the participants and trainers on Monday, saying that the Summer School is a unique opportunity for journalists across the region to gain skills from top trainers in investigative journalism.

“We will also have a bit of a different programme than usual, consisting of both training sessions and working on stories covering pressing issues like surveillance, the arms trade and environmental topics. The work on the investigations will continue after the School but we aim to finish as much as we can during this week,” Ristic said.

Ludo Hekman, another lead trainer and editor and founder of the Lighthouse Reports, said that the concept of the School enables journalists to immediately apply what they have learned in working on actual investigative stories.

“This is an efficient and inspiring way to work. It is also important if you can apply what you learn immediately; another objective is to learn from one another and go home with the report, with some compelling information,” Hekman said.

After the opening remarks, Leone Hadavi, a freelance open source investigator and a contributor to the Lighthouse EUArms project, held a session entitled ‘Open-Source Investigative Techniques: Basics for Investigative Journalism’.

Hadavi introduced the participants to open-source investigative techniques and talked about their importance in conducting investigations. He offered various useful tips and tools on how to do an image reverse search and how to geo-locate videos and images found on social media.

“It happens sometimes that you receive images or videos from people arguing that something happened yesterday or two years ago. We cannot trust anyone and we need to verify every single piece of information we get,” Hadavi explained.

The first day ended with Lise Witteman, an independent reporter on the EU who specialises in following the paper trails of European decision-making processes. Witteman explained to the participants how to trace the documents that lie behind policy decisions.

She said that following European Union politics is tough and was particularly so when she first began covering it: “It was a challenge to decide what could be a story as there were so many files, so many documents, you could drown in all this information,” she said.

She also talked about the toolbox she has developed over the years, which helps her search through documents, names and procurements to narrow down the huge amounts of information.

In the coming days, there will be sessions focusing on data journalism and investigating the management of borders. The vast majority of the time, however, will be dedicated to working in groups and investigating specific leads that relate to the four chosen topics.

Maud Jullien

Maud Jullien is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker. She is currently an instructor and investigator with the Lighthouse EUarms project and editor-in-chief of the Africa News bulletin on TV5 Monde.

Maud Jullien worked for the BBC as a correspondent for 7 years based in Dakar, Senegal, and Kinshasa, DR Congo, producing short and long-form radio and TV reports on West and Central Africa. She has produced reports for the BBC’s investigative programmes Africa Eye, Newsnight and crossing continents.

In 2018 she moved to France to study documentary cinema and has since been working as a freelance investigative journalist, editor-in-chief and filmmaker collaborating with the BBC and French channels Arte, France 24 and TV5 Monde. She began working as an open source investigator on the EUarms project with Lighthouse in 2019, and has since taken part in workshops on arms exports in France and in Spain.