Serbian journalist elected to the governing board of the World Federation of Science Journalists

155ae48.jpgMilica Momcilovic, a board member of the Balkan Network of Science Journalism has been elected to the newly expanded board of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ).

Milica has been a science journalist since 2006, mainly in the television field, working with Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS) as a reporter and science editor.

She is also editor-in-chief of Green-web-Action for sustainable future — multimedia web-based platform dedicated to the promotion of environmental values and long-term sustainable thinking in Serbia and region with critical coverage of issues in environment, climate change health and medicine.

And, she has been an active board member of the Balkan Network of Science Journalists, which backed her candidacy.

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BNSJ board member from Romania awarded a scholarship for BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting


Alexandra Nistoroiu, a Bucharest-based freelance journalist and Balkan Network of Science Journalists’ board member, participated in the BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting, thanks to a scholarship awarded by BIRN and the Friends for Friends Foundation in Romania.

The training programme held in the historic resort city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, 20-26 of August, is teaches cutting-edge investigative skills for journalists based in the Balkans.

Around 35 reporters from the Balkans, but also Luxembourg and Canada joined this year’s edition of the school. Lead trainer was Blake Morrison, investigative projects editor at Reuters in New York and three times Pulitzer finalist for his investigative work.

He was joined by other renowned trainers, experts in open source investigations, money tracking,  and in combining good old-fashion traditional reporting with the newest of digital tools.

For example, Henk van Ess helped journalists find answers to tricky questions using advanced internet search tools. Henk is a member of the investigation team at Bellingcat, a multi-award winning collective that uses online open source information to investigate armed conflicts and corruption.

Christiaan Triebert, a conflict researcher and digital forensics expert also with Bellingcat, examined the capacity of geolocation tools to pinpoint exact places and how to use satellite imagery as a fact-checking tool. Christiaan’s digital reconstruction of the Turkish coup d’état attempt won the Innovation Award of the European Press Prize.

OCCRP’s Miranda Patrucic shed light on following the money and investigating the offshore industry, using various databases, both open-source and paid for.

“The entire training programme was extremely hands-on and interactive, and the trainers were more than generous with their expertise,” says BNSJ’s Alexandra Nistoroiu.  “I recommend the BIRN summer school to all science journalists who want to integrate more investigative techniques in their feature stories and who want to make better use of all the information that is out there – even when we don’t know it is.”

Alexandra is planning to use the various techniques she learned in Croatia in her work as an independent health journalist in Romania, uncovering the various ways in which the national health system fails the Romanian patients, the shady connections between the industry and the medical community, as well as fraud in the academic environment.

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Balkan broadcast journalist shortlisted for the board of World Federation of Science Journalists


Milica Momcilovic, a broadcast journalist from Serbia is one of the nine people running for a seat on the newly expanded board of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ).

Milica has been a science journalist since 2006, mainly in the television field, working with Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS) as a reporter and science editor.

She is also editor-in-chief of Green-web-Action for sustainable future — multimedia web-based platform dedicated to the promotion of environmental values and long-term sustainable thinking in Serbia and region with critical coverage of issues in environment, climate change health and medicine.

And, she has been an active board member of the Balkan Network of Science Journalists, which fully backs her candidacy and believes she would be a great choice for the WFSJ.

“I have developed a special interest in establishing partnerships with journalists, scientists, and their institutes as one of the models for successful reporting on science and mutual capacity building,” Milica writes in her application.

“I have been involved in the production of numerous TV shows and other formats, several of them being in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic Serbia and British Council.”

“As a member of Advisory Board of Belgrade Science Festival I have an opportunity to facilitate round table discussions on important science topics such as safety and efficacy of vaccination, health-related or ecological risks and potential benefits of using GMO in agriculture, and other means of direct contact between scientists and the public, as well.”

Milica wants to get elected on the WFSJ board to improve the quality of science reporting and support science and technology journalists, as well as to raise awareness of the importance of science journalism for the society.

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Best Science Journalists in the Balkans 2016

The Balkan Network of Science Journalists invited its members to nominate science writers who excelled in 2017. The board of the BNSJ narrowed this down to three joint winners from three countries, Croatia, Montenegro and Romania.

Here are the winners for this year.

From Romania, Luiza Vasiliu, who won for her investigation into controversial surgery practices.

Currently Luiza Vasiliu is the editor of Scena9, her own independent project that she started in 2016. Scena9 is a Romanian online publication that charts the local and global cultural scene -from the arts to science and society.

For six years (2010-2016), Luiza was a staff writer at Dilema Veche, the most prestigious cultural magazine în Romania. During that time she also freelanced aș a reporter for Casa Jurnalistului, platform for independent journalism; Decât o revistă, independent nonfiction quarterly magazine and Regard, magazine for the French-speaking community in Romania.

She covers cultural, social, medical, science and political stories and she demonstrated creativity and excellence throughout her work.

Luiza received numerous awards and grants for her outstanding work in narrative journalism and creative nonfiction. To mention only a couple: Best Portrait, Gala Superscrieri – Non-fictions that change the world, Friends for Friends Foundation, Bucharest (autumn 2015), Superscrierea anului, the prize for the best work of narrative journalism published in Romania in 2014, Superscrieri Awards – Non-fictions that change the world, Friends for Friends Foundation, Bucharest (Autumn 2014), „Storytelling for Social Good”, journalistic competition, ERSTE Foundation and Decât o revistă (Autumn 2012) etc.

In 2014, Luiza was granted the “Superscrierea anului” of the year award for another science story she wrote: “The Astrophysicists”,

What is truly remarkable about this story is the way the author took a really unsexy story and made it digestible and attractive for a nonspecialized audience, using self-irony and humor.

About Luiza’s investigation:

The most renowned pediatric orthopaedist in Romania has experimented with an uncertified implant on a little girl who was limping. Eleven surgeries later, the girl, who is now a young lady, can barely get out of bed.

The girl, Amira, is just one of many children scarred for life by a series of dangerous “innovative” interventions by famous orthopaedist Gheorghe Burnei, 65 years old. The doctor has experimented on countless kids, crippling them. Some of them died. Burnei was arrested on Saturday December 10th, one day after reporter Luiza Vasiliu of Casa Jurnalistului published the first article of her four-part series exposing his malpractice.

The reporter spent more than a year investigating malpractice allegations made by poor families with children crippled by Gheorghe Brunei. For years, the Romanian media has dubbed him a saint that performs “miracles”—he has allegedly succeeded in six world surgical premieres and dozens of national and local premieres that no one ever followed up on, not even when patients died. Most were pure marketing stunts, the investigation reveals, but brought him fame and numerous new patients.

Amira’s story is the first part of a series dismantling the myth of the omnipotent doctor, while also revealing the complicity of fellow doctors silenced by fear and poor moral character. The second part is about the death of a little girl during a failed surgery that shouldn’t have been done in the first place. In the third part of the investigation you can witness a day in the life of Dr. Burnei. The reporter followed him at the hospital and caught on camera his interactions and abusive behaviour towards patients and colleagues alike. The last part brings forth yet more cases of medical wrongdoing. Around 15 other families gave testimonies about Burnei’s methods: wrong diagnoses, operating on patients indiscriminately and asking for money.

Even if some of the instruments he needed for his surgeries were supposed to be covered by public health funds, he often referred families to private firms where he had connections.

Luiza Vasiliu’s investigation was truly 2016’s most important health story in the Romanian media landscape. It started a national conversation about complicity and guilt, the right to informed consent and second opinion, medical ethics and the media’s role in building the image and reputation of the doctors. The investigative series was thoroughly documented, including the scientific aspects.

The first two stories in the investigation were translated into English:

From Montenegro, Maria Bolevich, freelance reporter.

Maria Bolevich is a young but skilled science and environmental journalist from Montenegro. She covers topics from the wider region, including Bosnia and Hercegovina and Croatia. As a freelance journalist, she has been collaborating with many regional and international media including New Scientist, Anti-Media, Morocco World News…

Her articles on ecological disasters at Jablanica and Skadar lakes in Bosnia and Montenegro, respectively, published in New Scientist were especially noticed. She is a recipient of a number of noteworthy awards in her field of expertise and is also a very active and enthusiastic member of BNSJ. Her first article was published in Serbia 6 years ago. She participated in the South East European Science Journalism Workshop, regional workshop on science journalism which was held in September 2014 in Podgorica, Montenegro, and now three year later she is the chair of the board of the Association of Science Journalists of Montenegro, which she helped to establish in November 2016. She is a member of BNSJ and of the Association of Science Journalists of Croatia. This year she is planning to organize a few workshops about science journalism in Montenegro.

From Croatia, Vedrana Simicevic, reporter at Novi List newspaper.

Vedrana Simicevic is that rare breed of journalist: employed at a big regional newspaper and managing to writer regularly about sciences and education. She has recently also started freelancing for international media, including New Scientist magazine.

She has been at Novi List newspaper, based in Rijeka, Croatia, for 21 years now, and a background in social sciences and the humanities means she also writes about range of sciences, not just natural sciences. Her articles span a wide variety of topics, from international trends in scientific publishing and open access and national earthquake hazards to successes of local physicists and mathematicians working in big international research teams.

Such work brings forth overlooked topics, such as seismic risk, as well as making complex science relatable by humanising it with relatable locals who work on such science. She also covers issue from political sciences such as research on recent pressures on the western democracies and rising conformism among the new generation of young people in Croatia.

Working at a regional paper with both local focus on a national reach, she has managed to regularly get high quality long-form stories into the newspaper, helping inform, educate and inspire locals about key movements in science of both national and international importance. Simicevic is a type of journalist that every local and national paper should have, but few continue to do so unfortunately. The articles that represent her work:

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Several sessions at ECSJ2017 organised by journalists from the Balkans

ecsj17pixJournalists from the Balkans are organising and speaking at several sessions at the European Conference of Science Journalists in Copenhagen, Denmark, next week (26-30 June).

This is perhaps the best representation of journalists from the region – and the specific issues they face – at a major international conference of science journalism yet.

The sessions that involve reporters who are members or board members of the Balkan network of Science Journalists include those on pitching, censorship, pseudoscience, feature articles and science in Eastern Europe.

Mico Tatalovic, from Croatia, is organising a session entitled How to successfully pitch science story on Tuesday.

Alexandra Nistoroiu and Aurel F. Marin from Romania are organising a session on Wednesday called Where’s the science? Challenges of science journalism in Eastern Europe with speakers from Croatia (Vedrana Simičević), Montenegro (Maria Bolevich) and Serbia (Slobodan Bubnjevic).

Also on Wednesday, Ivana Horvat from Serbia is organising a session on Is ‘feature’ taking over the news? With speakers including Slobodan Bubnjevic from Serbia and Mico Tatalovic from Croatia.

Julianna Photopoulos from Greece, and Alexandra Nistoroiu from Romania are organising the session on Thursday about How to report on and debunk pseudoscience and speakers include Alexandra Nistoroiu and Mico Tatalovic, amongst others.

Also on Thursday, Mico Tatalovic is organising a session on A new wave of censorship in science journalism with speakers including Hungary’s Kata Karáth, Croatia’s Vedrana Simičević, and Montenergo’s Maria Bolevich.

If you are at the conference do come along and join us for the discussions.



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Two Balkan journalists win travel grants to World Conference of Science Journalists 2017


There are two winners from the Balkan region for travel grants to a meeting of international science journalists in October 2017 in San Francisco, California, announced today.

They are among other lucky winners worldwide coming from a total of 48 countries.

Aurel Marin, editor at Viata Medicala magazine in Romania, is among the 72 awardees of professional fellowships. These were selected from 589 applications submitted from 103 nations.

And Andjela Djuraskovic from Montenegro is among 22 recipients of student fellowships.

The 22 student fellows will attend a pre-conference workshop and report on the conference during the week.

The student fellowship committee reviewed 167 applicants from 63 nations.

“With nearly every region of the world represented, we are excited about this remarkably successful effort to hold a global conference,” said fellowships chair Robin Lloyd.

The selecting committee was impressed with the overall high quality of the applications.

The fellowships will cover recipients’ travel expenses to the conference.

The grants are intended to enable those who otherwise could not attend to join the conference by supporting travel to San Francisco, accommodations, and complimentary registration as well as workshop attendance for selected fellows.

As an expression of welcome to international colleagues, U.S. science writers collected $40,000 in donations to fund 11 David Perlman Travel Fellowships, honoring the veteran San Francisco-based science journalist. Combined with support from other funders, this enabled WCSJ2017 to award a total of $273,500 in fellowships.

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Montenegro journalist wins special mention at the European Science Writer of the Year awards

Ivan-Cadjenovic vijesti-novine.jpg

Ivan Cadjenovic, a journalist at independent daily newspapers Vijesti from Podgorica in Montenegro, was given a special mention by the judges for the depth and length of his investigation that dealt with plagiarism in science.

The judges found the text compelling, the source diverse and the overall journalistic approach very interesting. Ivan was nominated for the award by the Association of Science Journalists of Montenegro, which was established last year and is a member association of the World Federation of Science Journalists.

He won for a series of articles, which you can read here, here, here and here.

Cadjenovic is a second Montenegrin journalist to get a special mention in these awards for investigation into plagiarism in science. Tina Popovic, also from Vijesti newspaper, was highly commended by the judges for her investigative journalism at 2015 European Science Writer of the Year Awards.

The European Science Writer of the Year award is intended to celebrate the work of a journalist or writer who promotes excellence and creativity in science journalism and writing.   They are recognised for entertaining and informing audiences, for inspiring new generations of journalists and writers, and for innovation in their main area of expertise.


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