Balkan-EU science journalism twinning project

Balkan-EU science journalism twinning project

(Lead: Mico Tatalovic and Fabio Turone)

Under the auspices of the WFSJ, this project aims to improve collaboration between science journalists in Western Europe and the Balkan region by funding specific collaborative journalism projects and providing quality editorial feedback to applicants. It will aim to expand the horizons and skills of journalists involved in the project, and contribute to closer media collaboration across Europe, especially across the old East-West divide.

The project is envisaged to run for a period of 12-18 months and to contribute to the establishment of new long-term collaborations and links between journalists covering science, health, environment and technology from different regions of Europe.

The call for proposals

A call for proposals will seek journalistic projects that:

  • address a scientific issue of an important societal concern relevant to at least two countries, one in the Balkans and one elsewhere in Europe, including basic science, research policy, environment, health and technology (Examples include air pollution, floods and antibiotic resistance);
  • involve at least two partners, one from the Balkan region, one from elsewhere in Europe;
  • seek to publish a final article in a media outlet (in the local language and possibly in English).
  • The call will be open to journalists who already have partners to work with as well as those who seek partners. The 10 best projects will be shortlisted and those needing a partner will be matched up through a collaboration call sent through science journalism associations in relevant regions.
  • Journalists will each receive a bursary along with support for travel and research expenses. An additional incentive will be provided in the form of a prize, the winner of which will be announced at the WCSJ 2019 in Lausanne from among the three best contributions.

Support for the best proposals

All received applications will be assessed and provided with constructive editorial feedback in a safe, shared online space (for example Trello). This is expected to lead to a broad and general raising of standards and skills in science journalism.

Support will involve editors checking in with the journalists at least every two months to discuss progress and any obstacles via Skype calls, and an ongoing interaction with the two journalists and an editor from the project providing tailored support for each project. The journalists producing the three best projects will be provided with free travel to the WCSJ 2019, where they will present their projects and share lessons learnt. The best project will be awarded the prize in cash.

Half of the grant will be earmarked for travel and research related to reporting and collaboration, and the rest will be provided as journalists’ bursaries.

The selection criteria

The assessment of projects will be carried out by an international team of editors we already have on-board and will be based on:

  • novelty of the idea and its importance to society’s wellbeing and development
  • strength of the pitch and research already put into the project
  • strength of the collaboration and involvement of journalists and editors from the Balkan region, especially from least developed countries such as the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova and Montenegro (precedence will be given to the projects with participants from least developed nations)
  • how realistic the project is and what the prospects for its publication are (precedence will be given to projects already in touch with editors and publications that are willing to publish the story)

The expected impact at the local and continental level

The final stories will be published – or republished – on the project’s website, on the WFSJ website, and we will advise and hope to see them published in media outlets in the country concerned, in the local language and possibly in English.

Selected media have already expressed interest in supporting the initiative by publishing some or all the articles produced, in the local language or in translation: editors of three media outlets have expressed interest. These are Le Scienze (western partner in Italy), Elementi magazine (Balkan partner, in Serbia), and Euroscientist magazine (pan-European partner).

Expected story lengths, co-authored by both journalists on the project team:

  • 1 Feature piece: 2500 to 5000 words Or
  • 2 News articles: 500 to 1200 words Or
  • 1 Multimedia package: Video or radio piece 2-6 minutes in length

The long-term legacy

Lessons learnt will be shared with other journalists at the WCSJ 2019, and pulled together into a freely available ’Field guide to cross-border collaboration on science stories’ reporting about science in the Balkans. The stories produced will be freely available online on the project website and our partner media.