Serbia: 2017 EU investigative journalism award winners announced

(Photo: FoNet, via EUinfo centar) The winners: Dragan Gmizić, Maja Živanović and Milica Šarić

Maja Živanović, Dragan Gmizić and Milica Šarić won the 2017 EU award for investigative journalism in Serbia.

The first award went to Maja Živanović of the Vojvodina investigative and analytical center VOICE for a story on malfeasence in the business of the public company Novi Sad Gas.

The second award was won by Dragan Gmizić, journalists of the Greenfield production in Novi Sad for the program on hunting protected animal species in Serbia.

The third award, for the best young journalist in 2016, went to Milica Šarić of the Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia for a story about building a new block of the thermo-electrict plant Kostolac using a Chinese loan: “Kostolac: Chinese loan, Serb rule-breaking”.

The jury had to decide among 40 investigative pieces published in Serbian media.

The jury comprised: Ljubica Gojgić, journalist at Radio-Television Vojvodina; Rade Veljanovski, PhD, professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade; Vladimir Barović, PhD, professor of the Philosophy Faculty in Novi Sad; Milan Antonijević, director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights; and Mladen Velojić, director of Media & Reform Center in Niš.

Ms Noora Hayrinen of the EU Delegation in Serbia stated at the award ceremony that the EU gives a great importance to media freedom and freedom of expression. She stressed that the freedoms are part of the negotiating chapter 23 on fundamental rights and that investigative journalism is of great importance for the society so that the citizens are better informed.

Jury president, Ljubica Gojgić, stated that the European Union in cooperation with the Novi Sad School of Journalism give out the awards for investigative journalism as recognition to individuals who responsibly and professionally tackle topics of first-rate public interest.

“However, this year, as in the previous ones, the jury had to conclude that investigative journalism remains outside of traditional media; it is reserved for journalists from independent investigative centers who publish they work on specialized websites. So-called “big” media remain faithful to the practice of ignoring even the most significant findings of the investigative sector, which deprives a large number of citizens of information in the public interest”, Gojgić stated.

The award was established by the European Commission DG for enlargement, in accordance with the EU enlargement strategy “which recognizes a prominent need for ensuring freedom of speech in the media, as well as support to investigative journalism in monitoring the reform process and maintaining the historical momentum towards EU accession”.

The EU award for Investigative Journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey is coordinated by a regional partnership of civil society organizations under the leadership of Peace Institute in Ljubljana, a SEENPM member, chosen for this task by the European Commission. In Serbia, the process is coordinated by the Novi Sad School of Journalism, a SEENPM member.