BIRN Journalists Polish Information-Gathering Skills

As BIRN’s Summer School continues, Helen Darbishire, Lawrence Marzouk and Marcus Lindemann trained participants on the efficient use of freedom-of-information laws and Google search tools.

Helen Darbishire and Lawrence Marzouk.

Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, encouraged journalists to exercise their rights guaranteed by freedom-of-information laws and approach the EU to gather information.

“Don’t get discouraged by bureaucracy. I often got information I didn’t expect to get and was denied information I couldn’t believe they wouldn’t provide me,” Darbishire said on Tuesday, adding that everyone has the right to ask for any public document in any country.

She pointed out that journalists from non-EU countries can also benefit from approaching EU institutions, as the EU is more likely to provide them with relevant documents than their home-country institutions.

Lawrence Marzouk, editor of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Kosovo, shared his experience with practicing freedom-on-information laws in Kosovo and advised journalists to be persistent.

“It’s not enough just to send an email or a written request. We always call institutions and ask for information over and over again and insist as long as it’s necessary,” he said.

Marcus Lindemann, a producer and journalist from Germany who is responsible for TV reports mainly broadcast on ZDF, Europe’s largest TV station, trained BIRN Summer School participants in how to gather information online.

Lindemann taught use of Google search tools and the provision of simple “tricks” to optimize online searches.

The third BIRN Summer School started in Mavrovo, Macedonia, on August 19. Over the one-week programme journalists will hone their investigating skills with some of the most prominent investigative journalists in the world.

The lead trainer this year is Sheila Coronel, Director and Professor of Professional Practice at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University.

The principal focus of the BIRN Summer School is reporting on organised crime and corruption for print and broadcast media.

BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting 2012 was organized in cooperation with the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and was supported by Open Society Foundations, OSCE Mission to Skopje, OSCE Mission in Kosovo and USA Embassy in Skopje.