BIRN Summer School Day 3: Follow the Money

On the third day of BIRN’s Summer School of Investigative Reporting, participants were introduced to financial journalism and discussed how to work as a journalist in a conflict zone.

The third day of BIRN’s Summer School of Investigative Reporting on Wednesday started with financial and business journalism sessions.

Simon Bowers, an investigations editor at Finance Uncovered, talked about how to investigate company finance and follow money flows.

“Directors have only one thing to do, and that is to make a profit for shareholders. Therefore it’s important to know how to unpack financial statements and what notes to prioritise,” Bowers told participants.

Journalists also shared their experience of covering news in conflict zones. “In a war, it’s not just the bullets that are dangerous; the regime, the political elite can be a threat, too,” said BIRN journalist Milica Stojanovic.

Lina Kushch, first secretary of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, talked about her colleagues’ everyday hardships during the Russian invasion.

“Most Ukrainian journalists had no experience working in a conflict zone. Media outlets were unprepared for war; they didn’t have safety protocols. We tried to help them with online training and safety equipment,” Kushch told participants.

Her organisation prepared a journalist’s guide and set up a hotline with recommendations on safety.

Ahmad Al-Bazz, an independent journalist and documentary filmmaker from the Palestinian territories, said that although the times of direct military censorship have passed, problems persist because local and international business people are not interested in supporting Palestinian media outlets. Most of their financial support comes from the EU.

“Since I started my career, no authority came knocking on my door. They are treating us as normal Palestinian citizens; we don’t get any extra access for being a journalist,” Al-Bazz said.

The day ended with the journalists working on pitching cross-border investigative stories.

The Summer School continues on Thursday with lessons on combining various different sources into a multimedia story.