Celebrating investigative journalism: Future Story Awards on February 3rd

2021-11-12

The Future Story Awards 2021 will honor the excellence in investigative journalism in Lithuania and Slovakia on February 3rd, 2022, during the ceremony in Vilnius.

The international jury has started evaluating the entries. It consists of professional journalists, academics, and media experts from Lithuania, Slovakia, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.

Newsrooms and professional journalists established or residing in Lithuania and Slovakia submitted 22 works to The Future Stories Awards 2021. All stories were published in 2020-2021 in print, digital media, television, or radio broadcasting.

One of the jury members, Tav Klitgaard, a CEO of Zetland, emphasized that submitted investigative stories are examples of journalism making a positive difference. “Some works hold powerful people responsible, some discover an abuse of natural resources, while others reveal unhealthy administrative structures. Some even cover all three. It brought me great joy to see such great examples of serious and impactful reporting,” Klitgaard said.

The important criteria during the evaluation process are investigative character and focus on a topic of local significance while respecting all ethical and other professional principles. “Investigative journalism is a vital safeguard for society – it is a tool that can hold power to account when official channels fail. Awards help recognize the best of this work, bring it to a wider audience, and encourage reporters to do more such reporting in the future,” said James Ball, global editor at Bureau Local in the UK, one of the 14 members of the awards’ jury.

The expert jury will evaluate each applicant separately and award points on a scale from 1 (weak) to 10 (very good). They will consider each entry according to various criteria for example data reliability, actuality, impact, etc.

The winners will be selected in 7 categories. The € 1.000 prizes will be awarded to investigative journalists or newsrooms who published stories in the following reporting areas:

  • Human rights
  • Environment
  • Corruption

The Future Stories Awards will also honor journalists in four special categories:

  1. For local or regional media (working at a local and regional level, see definition below).
  2. For young media creators and new media (for individuals aged 18-30 or emerging media that are up to 2 years in business).
  3. The best interactive presentation (for those using innovative media tools for the presentation of the final investigation).
  4. Interaction with citizens (for those excelling in the involvement of an audience).

The last category is the “Audience’s Choice Award”. The public will be voting on the submitted works and choosing the one, which will receive a € 1.500 prize. The voting will start on the Media4Change platform on January 3rd.

A jury member Klitgaard emphasized that the awards are an opportunity to remind that free media are an essential part of any democracy. “Great journalists having time and freedom to do their investigative work, is the best way I know of to make sure societal power structures are being respected, and in turn, trust is built. This is important if we want to continue to develop our societies in a responsible way, allowing humans to live rich lives in balance with the natural resources we have been given,” said Klitgaard.

JUDr. Martin Solík, the Faculty of Mass Media Communication, chief-editor of the Communication Today at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius also evaluates entries to the Awards. He said he is convinced that investigative journalism is the pinnacle of journalism. “Investigations are based on in-depth analysis, it is a time-consuming area and at the same time it represents a kind of counterpoint to infotainment, which is characteristic of today’s hectic times,” Solík said.


Background: The Future Stories Award is one of the activities of the Media4Change – Future Investigative Story Lab project, which aims to support cooperation, innovation, and professional standards in the field of investigative journalism in Lithuania and Slovakia. It’s run by the National Institute for Social Integration (Media4Change programme) from Lithuania and European Dialogue from Slovakia.

The project has been co-financed 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 Call for entries 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.