Gavin Rees: How to Interview Victims of Trauma

Gavin Rees from Dart Center Europe has held a session named Dealing with Victims of Trauma explaining how to ask questions and get details without opening new wounds for victims of war, violence and crime.

Rees has pointed at skills journalists need to know in order to interview those affected by trauma.
Four skill areas a journalist has to develop, according to Rees, are:

1. Listening
2. Beginning well and ending well
3. Simple questions, without feelings
4. Journalist need to know their role. Journalists are not therapists and are not there to cure the interviewees

The BIRN school’s participants went out form the session under strong impression.

Frederique Petit form The Netherlands finds the way Gavin had been communicated with victims in the movie he has shown very impressive.

“The way he communicated with the victims and what he told us on how you should lead victims up to a point where they would tell you their horrible stories and also get them back to a normal place, where you can part normally without having upset them too much,” Frederique said.

Vladimir Locev from Macedonia has admitted that he had no such experience but “it was very, very useful to watch his movie about Hiroshima and victims of nuclear bomb. It was amazing,” he said.  

“I think it takes a lot of time, a lot of experience until one journalist reaches that level to be able to retrieve and to get information from people who had those kind of … like rape victims, trafficking victims, the Macedonian journalist added.

Vlad Ursulean from Romania: “It really thought me how to shut up and, in an interview, listen first and try to work out from there. And, not to push people that have been through trauma or traumatic events. Make them comfortable to say things… saying things that they want.”

Bogdan Vacusta from Romania finds the presentation of Gavin as very useful. “His experience in Japan, that he told us about, was very good in terms of understanding that we have to develop the skills to do this kind of interview, because it is not a usual interview. We have to deal with some individuals who dealt with some very uncomfortable situations,” Bogdan said. “It was very surprising for me to see that even his presentation was something like talking to the victims that had difficult experience,” he added.

Paul Radu Explains How to Track Offshore Companies

As part of BIRN’s Summer School of Investigative Reporting, Paul Radu has tried to explain, by going through personal experience, how to track organised crime over borders and offshore.

“What we’ve been trying to do these days is to explain that offshore doesn’t necessarily needs to be an island but an offshore type of company can be established in countries like Austria, Delaware in the US or in some other country in the world.

Radu went on to explain that there are still ways of getting information on offshore heavens.

Therefore, he has presented his new project named the Investigative Dashboard as useful tool for getting the information.

“The Investigative Dashboard is service which provides information to journalists but also provides access to experts,” he said.

The experts hired by the Investigative Dashboard would, according to him, provide information on what journalists can and cannot do when it comes to obtaining information from offshore heavens.

As owners of the companies are usually hidden being replaced by proxies, Radu has suggested some tricks on how to get name of the real owner. One of the ways is to ask a proxie how to spell his/her name correctly in order not to make in mistake since the name would be published in a story. In such situations, the proxie would usually point to real owner of the offshore company.

BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting Kicks Off

Leading journalists and trainers from all over Europe have gathered in the Serbian town of Novi Sad to take part in the first BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting.

The one week programme kicked off on Monday with introductory speech of Gordana Igric, BIRN’s regional director, and guest trainers who are renowned investigative journalists including Don Ray and Drew Sullivan.

“We are pleased with the candidates and very excited to be organising this programme for the first time. I hope this school will become our annual tradition,” Gordana Igric said.

Don Ray, who is a multi-media producer, writer, author, journalist and lecturer has then tried to define investigative reporting – what makes it different from other types of journalism. This has been shown in a case study presented by Besar Likmeta, the editor for the BIRN in Albania, who has been talking about his investigative story named World Bank Demolished Albania Village.

Further insight on the investigative process – from getting a lead, formulating the investigative hypothesis to writing the story, fact and legal check, airing and publishing the report, follow up – has been given by Don Ray with Randall Joyce explaining how to do it for TV.

The OCCRP team has started its four-day programme on organised crime and corruption in order to show what are the schemes and scams that mark organised crime’s plunder of Balkan regions.

Meanwhile, another group of participants have uncovered a new world of Microsoft Excel while being trained in computer-assisted investigative journalism by Luuk Sengers.

With main focus on reporting on organised crime and corruption for print and broadcast media, the BIRN summer school is also aimed at covering the changing face of Balkan media ownership and violence against media professionals.

Summer School Application Close on August 9th, 2010

Places are still available for the BIRN summer school for an all-inclusive course fee of €549, which covers tuition, accommodation, meals and activities. However, the August 9th deadline is approaching fast, so please submit your application without delay.

BIRN’s summer school includes a range of specialist programmes, exercises and round-tables covering the changing face of Balkan media ownership, violence against media professionals, and more.

Internationally famous journalists, trainers and presenters Don Ray, Mark Hunter, Luuk Sengers, Gavin Rees, Milorad Ivanovic, Manuela Mareso and the OCCRP training team with Drew Sullivan, Rosemary Armao and Paul Radu make up the training team along with BIRN’s in-house experts.

The programme is intensive but there will also be some time to tour the beautiful orchards, vineyards, monasteries and forests of the nearby Fruska Gora National Park, with visits scheduled to the Grgeteg, Hopovo and Krusedol monasteries in Fruska Gora, wine tasting in a 300-year-old wine cellar, and honey tasting in the Museum of Honey.

Free Places for Balkan Journalists Still Available

Journalists from South East Europe still have time to apply for full scholarship to attend BIRN’s unique Summer School of Investigative Reporting from August 22 to 28 within the Petrovaradin Fortress, in the stunning Fruska Gora National Park.

The deadline to apply for a full scholarship is July 25, while those paying the full course fee have until August 9 to sign up. The course fee of €549 and is all-inclusive, covering tuition, accommodation, meals and extra-curricular tours.

BIRN is looking for mid-career journalists from the Balkans to apply for the scholarship..

BIRN is gathering leading journalists and trainers, both from the Balkans and internationally to provide informative, insightful and entertaining training focused on investigative, computer-assisted and organised crime and corruption journalism, in print and broadcast media.

Confirmed speakers include renowned trainers and presenters Don Ray, Mark Hunter, Luuk Sengers, Gavin Rees, Milorad Ivanovic, Maunela Mareso and the OCCRP training team with Drew Sullivan, Rosemary Armao and Paul Radu.

The summer school will offer a full programme including exercises and round-tables on the changing face of Balkan media ownership, violence against media professionals, and more.
All applicants selected to attend the Summer School will get BIRN’s newly published textbook “Digging Deeper: A Guide for Investigative Journalists in the Balkans” free of charge.

There will also be time to tour the beautiful orchards, vineyards, monasteries and forests in the Fruska Gora National Park.

Finally, all participants will receive a BIRN Summer School certificate.

BIRN will provide all necessary documentation and assistance for applicants that required visas or travel documents.

BIRN’s Summer School of Investigative reporting

As part of a multi-year regional initiative to strengthen investigative reporting with special focus on organised crime and corruption,  BIRN  is organising a Summer School for Investigative Reporting. The event will be held in Vojvodina, Serbia,  at the Hotel Norcev, located in the Fruska Gora National Park, from August 22 to August 28.

The summer school will follow the curriculum outlined in BIRN’s recently published   “Digging Deeper – A Guide for Investigative Journalists in the Balkans”, written by Sheila S. Coronel, a professor at Columbia University in the United States.

In the morning programme of the summer school, the training will take journalists through this demanding discipline in a methodical manner, from a definition of what investigative journalism is, through the investigative process itself and the set of techniques for following people and paper trails, interviewing and checking the legal implications of journalistic work, and putting an article together.

In the afternoon hours, journalists will be able to choose one of two topics to examine in greater detail: either computer assisted reporting (CAR)  or organised crime and corruption.

Participants will also have the opportunity to engage in discussions with lecturers and guests, and attend case study presentations. They will receive a range of course materials including relevant books, handouts, readers and documentary movies which focus on organised crime, corruption and other topics.  Evening debates will tackle major Balkan media issues, from media ownership to violence against journalists.

BIRN’s Investigative Initiatives programme will also include a set of commercial activities in upcoming years that will target local universities in the Balkans, as well as media owners and publishing houses.