Mediafocus Serbia

Center For Investigative Journalism

scoop - journalists help journalists

 

Management and funding

 

Managed by

  • Foreningen for Undersøgende Journalistik (FUJ), The Danish Association for Investigative Journalism,     founded in 1989.
  • International Media Support (IMS)

 

Funded by

  •  Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Open Society Institute, Carlsberg Breweries

 


”We need money and good examples”

 

  • Scoop is based on an observation. In 2002 the Ukrainian human rights and media specialist Valentyna Telychenko did an assessment of the media training in Ukraine. Her conclusion was that there had been lots of training but very little opportunity for the journalists to use their new skills.
  • In November 2002 she met a fact finding team from the Danish organisation International Media Support and asked the team to find a partner in Western Europe to build up a support structure for investigative reporting in Ukraine, that journalists could use their new skills.
  • In January 2003 Scoop was founded in Kyiv by journalists from Ukraine and South East Europe and representatives from the Danish Association for Investigative Journalism (FUJ). IMS decided to fund three pilot investigations. From the very beginning Scoop was a trans-national project with contacts in Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia.

 

  Almost 100 investigations since 2003

 

  • Since January 2003 Scoop has supported almost 100 investigations in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova (including the Republic of Trans-Dniestr), Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia (including Kosovo and Montenegro), Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia.
  • Scoop has organised national seminars in all the countries, a small regional seminar in Bulgaria and a regional conference in Budapest.
  • Scoop has national coordinators in Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia. We are looking for national coordinators for Moldova, Kosovo and Montenegro.
  • The grants for work in the field – that is money used by journalists for getting around, interpreting, databases, hotels etc -  mounts up to 400.000 EUR. Scoop has supported some very small investigations with budgets of 6-700 EUR. The most expensive investigation is a trans-national investigation of the activities of Gazprom. It started two weeks ago with a budget of 27.000 EUR.
  • Investigations supported by Scoop have won five awards: Two in Ukraine, one in Romania, one in Bulgaria and – in December 2006 – one in Moldova.

 

Investigating corruption and crime

 

  • All investigations are based on applications from journalists or groups of journalists. Scoop thus support issues, which journalists in the region consider important. Scoop does not order investigations.
  • Overall most of the investigations are dealing with some form of corruption, which is also one of the most important political and economical problems in the region.
  • So Scoop has supported investigations of trafficking of women and children, of corruption in local councils, corruption as a national and even international phenomenon, environmental issues, irregularities in governments and local administrations, smuggling, import of fake goods, illegal fishing, illegal weapons and the like.

 

Achieving improvements

 

  • Since the famous investigation of Watergate every investigative reporter would like her or his articles to give results. Investigations supported by Scoop also have given results. In Ukraine articles about a corrupt judge led to his resignation, other Ukrainian articles to firing of the leader of the drug department in a local police force, in Serbia police officers and former police officers were detained for killing Kosovo-Albanians during the war in Kosovo after an investigations published in Blic. A few days ago a row started in Croatia, where a reporter with Scoop-funding is investigation the financial situation around a leading politician, Mr. Radimir Cacic. Nothing has been published yet, but after a request for an interview Mr. Cacic went on TV and attacked the investigating reporter furiously. The material is not ready for publication, but  Mr. Cacic has a weak case, and the national coordinator for Scoop. Sasa Lekovic, had to inform the Croatian public, that  Scoop “is not an international power of darkness”, as Mr. Casis claims, but a project to raise the standard of reporting.
  • Actually there has even been results from another investigation never finished. The issue was the use of polluted material for the expansion of a port at the Sea of Azov. Somehow the port authorities got wind that the reporter had taken samples and asked a lab to analyse them. They summoned her and threatened her. But they must have learned a lesson themselves, because they stooped using polluted material for the construction work.
  • A more curious reaction is the founding of an NGO in Ukraine. The NGO is supporting a partly illegal scheme for surrogate mothers.  In this scheme young Ukrainian women are hired to help Western women to get children – women from Western Europe simply hire a womb. According to the newly founded NGO this is solidarity among women.
  • Many investigations done with our support have created breaking news in the region, they have been quoted by other media, journalists have been interviewed by radio and TV about their investigations.

Taking security seriously

 

  • Scoop pays much attention to security issues and to avoid legal action against journalists and articles supported by the project. All articles are sent to legal screening by a local expert in media laws to avoid legal proceedings. Till now only one investigation – in Moldova – has been sued. The investigation is dealing with corruption in a small town, and the plaintiffs don’t question the information of the articles but claim that their reputation was harmed by the wording. We don’t now the final result of the proceedings yet.
  • At several occasions journalists working with support from Scoop have been threatened and - as mentioned  - a  Ukrainian colleague simply stopped her investigation because of that. In another in Ukraine our national coordinator managed to get the Ministry of Internal Affairs to intervene and reorganise the drug department at the police in Kremenchuk..
  • In two trans-national investigations of organised crime the journalists as a security measure always worked in teams with back up outside the place, where the undercover investigation was done.
  • Over the years Scoop has gathered substantial experience how to handle threats and other difficulties. It’s always the personal decision of the journalists to assess the situation.
  • In some cases the reporters working with Scoop-support use a ‘I-quote-you-and-you-quote-me”-scheme. Zoya Dimitrova from Bulgaria and Milorad Ivanovic investigated smuggling of arms produced in Ukraine, exported legally to Bulgaria and from there smuggled illegally to Serbia during the UN-embargo. In all articles they quoted each other, so that they could claim to be “reprinting” information already published somewhere else.
  • Nevertheless Ms. Dimitrova had to drop publishing of one article after pressure.

 

Local aswell as international

 

  • Most of the investigations supported by Scoop are national investigations. Some of them are small and will take the journalists one or two months. For Scoop the decisive argument will always be if the investigation might reveal “new and important information to the public”. It doesn’t matter to Scoop if it is small weekly newspaper in a remote, almost unknown provincial town.
  • In some cases Scoop is cosponsoring an investigation initiated by a newspaper. But Scoop will only support investigations, which the media in question cannot afford itself. When we decide about an application we will always consider if the financial support from Scoop creates new opportunities, which the applicant wouldn’t otherwise have.
  • Many investigations have been turned into radio spots. For that we cooperate with SEENAPB, and Scoop also seeks to syndicate articles, but this has proved difficult.
  • This winter we had success in syndicating the articles about surrogate mothers. The investigation was done with a German journalist, Jens Hartmann, and with cosponsoring from the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. The articles have been published in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Russia and Ukraine. The issue was also taken up by both Ukrainian and Russian TV.

 

 

Cross-border and cross-language

 

  • Trans-national investigations done by teams of journalists from two-three or more countries are very important for Scoop – people who have been working together will also maintain a network much better than people who just meet at conferences and exchange business cards.
  • In some cases members of the teams were not able to communicate directly with each other but had to use interpreter. This takes time, but one important lesson learnt is, that it’s possible to work this way.
  • Reporters working with support from Scoop write their articles in their own style and edit them in cooperation with editors of the media, where they are going to publish. Scoop is not a kind of editor. We facilitate investigations, but the presentations of the results are not of our business. Unlike other project we are not trying to impose an “Anglo-Saxon writing-style”.

International network of colleagues

 

  • The Danish Association for Investigative Journalism organised the two first so-called Global Conferences for investigative reporting. In Copenhagen reporters from almost 50 countries all over the world met twice to discuss investigative reporting and share their experiences.
  • The next conference is in Canada in May and some of the reporters working with support from Scoop are invited – as they were to the third Global Conference in Holland a year ago - to present their experiences.
  • It’s very important for us in the Danish association to improve the global network of investigative reporters. Because of this reporters from East and South East have contact to top reporters in the US and other countries – contacts which would otherwise be difficult to get.
  • We are also working with the  South-East European Network of Associations of Private Broadcasters (SEENAPB). The network was established in 2000 with the support of Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Reporters working with support from Scoop are obliged to hand a copy of their articles and audio files to SEENAPB, which will then take care of turning the articles into radio spots.
  • We are also working with the independent media centres in the region. The centre in Chisinau in Moldova organised our first national seminar, and the Centre in Budapest, Hungary, organised our first conference and will also organise this years Scoop-conference in November.
  • We have also got substantial cosponsoring for an investigation in Trans-Dniestr from a Swiss NGO: Small Arms Survey and basically Scoop is seeking cooperation with every organisation, which will promote journalistic investigations.
  • Last but not least we are cooperating with other projects like Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIN) in Sarajevo. CIN takes active part in the Gazprom-investigation, which has just started.

 

Partners

 

www.arij.net

www.seenapb.org

www.cin.ba

 


To be continued…

 

  • The support structure Scoop will continue for some years. Present funding from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs will end 1st of October. It looks as if the grant can be extended to the end of December and from January 2008  Scoop will be part of a new media programme with a time frame of three years. This means that Scoop will be able to support investigative reporting till 2011.
  • Scoop started in Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia. In the next programme we will also include the Western part of Russia with St. Petersburg and the Caucasus. As Bulgaria and Romania have joined the European Union we will have to find new funding for investigations here.
  • On EU-level a similar support structure is being build up. Brigitte Alfter will leave Scoop to work with that fund. This should create good opportunities for cooperation between Scoop and the new initiative. Ms Alfter will stay in the international committee of FUJ and we will still work under the umbrella of the Global Conferences.
  • FUJ is also working to get support from our two sister organisations in Norway (Skup) and Sweden (Grävande Journalister). The support structure might change, but it will be there for four more years and working after our basic principle: Journalists help journalists.