Open Call: BIRN is Seeking Data/Business Journalists


As part of its new project focusing on Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, in the Balkans, South Caucasus and Central Asia, BIRN is looking for journalists with strong competence in economic issues and experience in data editing and data journalism.

Reporters with experience in data and business journalism from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia are strongly encouraged to submit their applications no later than October 14, 2022.

Selected candidates will be working on “Spheres of Influence Uncovered”, a joint project by the Berlin-based media NGO n-ost, BIRN, the cross-Caucasus media outlet JAMnews and an online media outlet from Uzbekistan, Anhor.uz. Its primary focus is mapping and exploring FDI in the Balkans and Central Asia.

BIRN is looking both for freelancers and permanent employees of national and local media and private and state-owned outlets/public broadcasters. Experience in different media formats is preferable, and experience in business and data journalism is a must.

As the project language is English, aspiring candidates must have good oral and written proficiency in English.

During the timeline of the project, from 2022 to 2025, several training sessions and other networking activities will take place in the Balkans and Central Asia, which all participating journalists will have to attend. The first, a kick-off meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, will take place in mid-November 2022, most likely on November 11-13. Details will follow in the next few weeks.

Journalists will be researching FDI in their respective countries in a specified timeframe. Most FDI come from three key players – the EU, China and Russia, competing for influence in both regions. Information that journalists collect will form the basis for an online interactive map and a database, which is intended to shed more light on key investment projects and inform the general public in the project countries, but also beyond, about the consequences, criticisms and challenges these investments have provoked.

Selected participants also will attend a series of offline training sessions to boost their data, investigative and journalism skills: to learn how to properly fact-check a story; how to protect themselves in a digital surrounding; and learn more about specific directives and laws that China and Russia often violate. A special focus of the project is fostering cross-border cooperation and transnational and transregional networking of data and investigative journalists.

Last but not least, participants will produce a series of investigations and long-read articles, using the database and interactive map as a starting point and source of information.

Selected candidates will benefit from:

  • taking part in a long-lasting journalistic project with enough time and resources to work on complex topics
  • boosting their cross-border skills and working closely with colleagues from different regions
  • the opportunity to expand and deepen their knowledge of their economic and (geo)political context and the consequences of investment and credit projects with foreign partner countries
  • the opportunity to improve their journalistic skills with a view to investigative research, data journalism, and processing complex issues and large amounts of data
  • gaining experience in building and using an international database on international economic cooperation and investment projects
  • financial support for innovative and complex publication projects
  • integration into an international journalistic network whose members benefit from one another through shared journalistic interests and mutually complementary skills

The project will consist of a number of online and offline activities during the next three-and-a-half years, which all selected participants will have to attend, which include traveling. Below is a preliminary list that will be defined further in the next weeks and months:

  • A kick-off meeting in Tbilisi in mid-November 2022
  • December 2022: one of the two training sessions, each lasting two-and-a-half days, in Belgrade (Serbo-Croatian/English) and in Tashkent (Russian)
  • Spring 2023: Joint training for three-and-a-half days (English) in Tbilisi, on data collection
  • Autumn 2023: Joint training for three-and-a-half days (English) in Podgorica, Montenegro, for the preparation and presentation of data – storytelling, infographics, video editing, social media production.
  • Spring 2024: (a) a two-day in-depth training course in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on how to use the database for the project participants; (b) a two-and-a-half-day work meeting for the participants with an extended group of experts and (business) journalists (25 project participants + 25 others)
  • Work on the database
  • Production of country-based and cross-border long reads and investigative reports

The project, which started on September 15 and lasts until December 31, 2025, includes the following countries: Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Other partners on the project include the lead partner n-ost, from Germany, Anhor.uz, from Uzbekistan and JAMnews (headquartered in Tbilisi).

Click here to apply.