In Europe, a haven of press freedom, three journalists were murdered in the past three years: Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, Ján Kuciak in Slovakia and Viktoria Marinova in Bulgaria. All three had reported on corruption and organised crime with close links to their governments. Across Europe, populist movements are changing the political landscape and undermining confidence in democratic institutions. In some countries, governments are cracking down on independent media, the judiciary and civil society. They are revising progressive social policies and vilifying minorities and migrants. While nationalism, scepticism about Europe, right-wing extremism, inequality and disillusionment with globalisation continue to rise, the fundamental values of the European project – pluralism, multilateralism and respect for the rule of law – are being pushed aside.
To address this situation, we have co-founded a cross-border journalistic platform called Reporting Democracy. Independent journalists research and question the topics, trends and events that are shaping the future of democracy in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Reporting Democracy publishes reports, interviews and analyses by correspondents from 14 countries. Journalists on the ground receive commissions and grants for in-depth reports and research. All articles are published in English. Most of them are also translated into the respective national language and, thanks to a growing network of local media partners, published by multiple outlets. A broad spectrum of experts from politics, society and academia comment on current issues within a geographical area that spans Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, from the Baltic Sea to the Aegean Sea.
We believe that public debate and political decision-making should be based on facts and that democracies require scrutiny. We need courageous journalists and free reporting. We fear for democracy if authoritarian alternatives become part of the mainstream.
Since 2007, this fellowship programme has been providing financial and editorial support to journalists who have good ideas for cross-border reports. Tutors support the writing process to enhance the journalistic skills and knowledge of the fellows. Each year, a jury selects ten experienced journalists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia. The three best articles are awarded a prize at the end and – along with the other articles – published in numerous high-quality media outlets.