The second round of the Local Investigative Journalism Competition 2021 is in full swing! Workshop week full of inspirational and creative online workshops and discussions was organised by the European Dialogue in Slovakia and Media4Change (NISI) in Lithuania from 12 to 16 april 2021. The partners are coordinating the course of actions during the whole Competition, including preparation of workshops. Some parts of the programme were international and open for participants from both countries. Team of the European Dialogues is delighted that 10 teams from Slovakia (composed of at least 2 freelancers or representatives of various media) submitted their investigative proposals after the workshops had been finished.
Goal of the workshop week and motivation of its organisers from Slovakia and Lithuania were to make it easier for participating journalists to create or enhance their plans of investigations, enhance their analytical competences and knowledge in the field of investigative journalism, and acquaint them with important topics in their fields of interest. Therefore, they have prepared discussions and workshops for them led by experts from the academic environment and practice.
Emphasis was also put on creating and supporting collaboration at both national and international levels. The participants were introduced to the Media4Change community and what all it offers. The European Dialogue and representatives of NISI (coordinator from Lithuania) talked and discussed the benefits of joining the community and included opportunities for collaboration, learning, and better communication with an audience – through online tools, events, consultations, or mentoring.
Conclusion of each day was dedicated to discussions with participants, consultations, and matchmaking, which made it easier for participants to establish teams or just find new members. During a few days before the deadline for submission of proposals to the second round of the Competition the applicants had an opportunity to consult with organisers and external experts the draft versions of their proposals and obtain detailed feedback.
Team of the European Dialogue is delighted that very important experts from the fields of investigative journalism, media production, transparency, environment, and human rights accepted its invitation – they discussed with participants, shared their views and opinions, provided valuable advices, and introduced the participants into topics, which are worth to be covered by media.
Pavla Holcová from the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism led a 3-hour workshop on current best practices in investigative journalism, doc. Juraj Rusnák from the Department of Communication and Media Studies at the Faculty of Arts at the Prešov University in Prešov delivered a lecture on the topic of investigative journalism in the era of digital media (including formulation of good methodology and verifiable hypothesis), and doc. Ján Hacek, Head of the Department of Journalism at the Faculty of Arts at Comenius University in Bratislava introduced the participants into the topic of open sources and data with a focus on investigative journalism.
Important topics related to human rights were presented by Alena Krempaská, programme director at the Human Rights Institute from Bratislava. Miroslava Plassmann, director of WWF Slovakia, and her colleagues delivered a presentation on environmental topics, and Ľuboš Kostelanský, project coordinator at Transparency International Slovakia, introduced participants into topics from the field of corruption and transparency.
The participants also explored some interactive tools for presentation of data and media products, and useful international opportunities for professional growth – for example programme Stars4Media, presented by Catalina Dumbraveanu from Foundation Euractiv, and Environmental Investigative Forum, presented by Tsvetelina Tomova and Alexandre Brutelle. Melinda Simonová from Ekopolis Foundation and programme manager of the Active Citizens Fund shared insights into the area of active citizenship and how it can help enhance media production (engaged journalism and media).
Lithuanian partner also managed to secure inspirational international speakers – as sessions led by them were in English the participants from Slovakia were invited to attend. Hence they had an opportunity to listen to and discuss with David Kaplan, director of the Global Investigative Journalism Network, and Megan Lucero, director of Bureau Local that focuses on local investigative journalism and an audience engagement.
Despite the optional participation, most journalists participating in the Competition took an active part in online events and discussions, consulted their proposals and expressed interest in further cooperation and education within the Media4Change community. Participants appreciated the active, caring, and friendly approach of the organisers. Thanks to matchmaking, three new teams in Slovakia and one in Lithuania were created.
The participants gained inspiration and new knowledge that will help them create better investigative proposals that they submitted to the Competition. It is the first experience with investigative journalism for some of them. All applications are evaluated by an expert Jury during these days. Three teams that score the best will be each awarded a grant of 4.000 EUR. They will use this amount to realise their investigations within two months.
Results of the second round of the Competition will be announced on 5 May 2021. Teams that will not be awarded a grant will be invited to work on their investigations regardless. If they realise their investigations and publish them by 30 June, they will have an opportunity to win a prize of 4.000 EUR for the best work. The Competition is implemented in the same way in Lithuania.
The Media4Change – Future Investigative Story Lab has been established and run by the National Institute for Social Integration (Media4Change programme) from Lithuania and European Dialogue from Slovakia to support cooperation, innovations, professional standards, and ultimately increase quality of content in the field of investigative journalism in Lithuania and Slovakia.
The whole project has been co-funded by the European Commission – DG CONNECT – under the 2019 call for proposals “Media freedom and investigative journalism” (Pilot Project: Supporting investigative journalism and media freedom in the EU).
Disclaimer: The European Commission’s support for the production of this article does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views of the authors only and are their sole responsibility. The Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Cover photo: Angela_Yuriko_Smith, pixabay.com