19 May 2017, Sarajevo – The award ceremony of the European Union Award for Investigative Journalism was held today in Sarajevo at the Museum of Literature and Performing Arts of BiH.
The prize for best investigative story in 2016, in the amount of EUR 4 000, was awarded to Avdo Avdić and Davor Obrdalj for the investigative story “Vladar iz Podzemlja” (The Ruler from the Underworld), published on 1 July 2016 in Žurnalonline magazine (www.zurnal.info). The second prize in the amount of EUR 3000 was awarded to Amarildo Gutić for the investigative story “Terma” (Hot Spring) published on 19 December 2016 in Žurnalonline magazine (www.zurnal.info). The prize for the best young investigative reporter story in the amount of EUR 3 000 went to Merila Dizdarević for the story “Afera Bosnalijek – Lijek zvani profiter“ (Bosnalijek Scandal – Drug Called Profiteer). The story was published on 26 April 2016 in “Mreža” political magazine and was broadcast on the Radio-Television of the Federation of BiH.
The decision on the winners was made by the jury composed of: Boro Kontić, Belma Bećirbašić, Helena Mandić, Tanja Topić and Zoran Ivančić. This year’s competition was open from 10th to 31st March 2017, and a total of 64 investigative stories from across BiH were nominated.
“The award shows how much we value investigative journalism. Free, diverse and independent media are indispensable in promoting and protecting democracy worldwide”, said Khaldoun Sinno, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Freedom of expression is a key indicator of a country’s readiness to become part of the EU. No country can join the EU without guaranteeing freedom of expression as a basic human right”, noted Sinno while explaining that “this year again Bosnia and Herzegovina had the highest number of nominations, as many as 64 out of 237 received in the entire region, and that the task of the jury was not easy.“.
Borislav Kontić, Director of the Mediacentar and Chairman of the Jury, pointed out that, in addition to the number, selection of the EU awards shows that the BiH journalism is vibrant and of good quality, adhering to professional norms that speak about the developed European media stage. “Given the content of the stories offered, a conclusion may be drawn that privatisation machinations, that is, control over energy resources, are key topics of the investigative reporting in BiH but also the main target of the local, gangster-like politics. Merila Dizdarević, a journalist, managed to translate a complicated, privatisation-related story into understandable language as well as to explain the complex mechanisms of agreed transactions, money laundering and silence of the competent institutions. The story offered by Amarildo Gutić speaks about the dark side of the local politics – corruption, in an interesting, journalistically attractive fashion of depicting privatisation machinations in RS. The first prize winners, Avdo Avdić and Davor Obrdalj, portrayed a journey into the heart of the local arrogant, irresponsible and unscrupulous politics,” Kontić pointed out.
The aim of the award is to celebrate and promote the outstanding achievements of investigative journalists in the Western Balkan countries and Turkey.
The EU Awards for Investigative Journalism are given in all seven countries respectively (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia) for the investigative stories published in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The total award fund for seven beneficiary countries for three years is EUR 210,000.
In BiH, the award is coordinated by the Mediacentar Sarajevo while the regional network of organizations is administered by the Peace Institute in Ljubljana.