The winners of the EU Award for Investigative Journalism were announced today at the ceremony held at the EU Info center in Belgrade. This award is administered second year in a row.
First prize winner, Aleksandar Đorđević, was chosen by the majority vote of the jury. His investigative story “Pumping of coal mine and budget” was published in the weekly Vreme in January 2015. His article about the Tamnava coal mine rehabilitation caused a great public debate about corruption and waste of money from the public budget. The second prize was given to Darko Šper from investigative centre Voice for a series of articles dealing with court trial of the banned neo-Nazi organization Nacionalni stroj. The third prize winners are Ivan Angelovski, Petrit Collaku, Kreshnik Gashi and Jelena Ćosić from BIRN, awarded for the story “Veselinović and partners got millions without tenders”.
Aleksandar Đorđević, whose story won the first prize, said that this award makes him very proud, but at the same time it creates a feeling of great responsibility because investigative jorunalists do not have a right to make mistakes.
Ramunas Janušauskas addressed the guests on behalf of the EU Delegation in Serbia carrying the words of support from Andris Kesteris, principal adviser for civil society and media in DG NEAR. Kesteris sent the message stating that without critical and independent media there is no chance for good governance in the country, nor a properly functioning democracy.
This year, the EU Award for the best young investigative journalists was awarded for the first time. By unanimous decision of the jury it went to Snežana Đurić and Novak Grujić for the series of articles “Municipal radar”, published on the website “Pištaljka”.
A total of 37 nominations from different media outlets and production outfits have been submitted for this year’s Call for the EU award in Serbia. Members of the jury were Brankica Stanković, editor in chief of Insajder.net, Ljubica Gojgić, journalist of public broadcaster Radio Television of Vojvodina, Rade Veljanovski, professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, Vladimir Barović, professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, and Miroslava Milenović, member of the Anti-Corruption Council.
The jury concluded that investigative jorunalism is mostly present in unconvential media, websites and investigative journalism groups. President of the jury, Miroslava Milenović, emphasized the importance of investigative journalists in a society and said this award is a positive impulse for media in Serbian society, as it is now, to continue with even more effort to collect facts and documents and to make them public.
The aim of the EU award for investigative journalism is to promote outstanding achievements of investigative journalists and improve the visibility of quality investigative journalism in the 10 countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey. The award was established by the DG Enlargement of the European Commission in line with the EU Enlargement Strategy which recognizes a strong need for ensuring freedom of expression in the media.
The total award fund in Serbia in 2016 is 15.000 Euro. The fund for individual awards ranges between 3.000 and 5.000 Euro. The prize for the sub-category ‘the best story by young investigative journalist’ is 3.000 Euro. The awarding process is coordinated by the regional partnership of civil society organizations, led by the Peace Institute from Ljubljana (chosen for this task by the European Commission). Novi Sad School of Journalism is coordinating the process for Serbia.