MACEDONIA: The EU Award for Investigative Journalism launched

MACEDONIA: The EU Award for Investigative Journalism launched
The professional journalists who worked and produced investigative stories reporting on societal issues related to abuse of power and fundamental rights, corruption and organised crime in the country in 2015 can apply at the second contest for the EU Award for Investigative Journalism by 30th March 2016. 
Established by the European Commission, the Award aims at celebrating and promoting outstanding achievements of investigative journalists and improving the visibility of quality investigative journalism in the Western Balkans countries and Turkey. This year contest introduces a new sub-category for the best story by young investigative journalist, thus aiming at promoting a young generation of investigative journalists. 
The award fund for 2016 is 10,000 Euro. In each country up to three best entries will be awarded, with individual prize ranges between 3,000 and 5,000 Euro. The prize for the sub-category ‘the best story by young investigative journalist’ is 3,000 Euro. The award is administered by the regional partnership of civil society organisations, coordinated by the Peace Institute in Ljubljana, while the Macedonian Institute for Media will coordinate all the activities related to the contest in Macedonia. 
The announcement of the contest was followed by a panel discussion dedicated to some of the challenges the investigative journalism in the country faces. The Head of the EU Delegation, H.E. Aivo Orav addressed at the panel discussion noting that the award is part of the EU's commitment to supporting media reforms and acknowledging the work of all who contribute immensely to professional journalism. He encouraged all private media, public service broadcaster, as well as the political parties to respect the ethical and professional principles of reporting thus jointly contributing to the improvement of the media environment. 
Last year's winner at the contest for the EU Award for Investigative Journalism, Saska Cvetkovska stressed that the closed institutions and restricted access of investigative journalism to the "mainstream" media are some of the major issues for investigative journalists. "Currently investigative journalism exists in a narrow space, mainly online. Investigative journalism is not in the newspapers, on television and in all the popular media. So, our problem is how to make the investigative stories more accessible for the citizens, thus influencing on the social environment”, said Cvetkovska. 
According to Sabina Fakic from the Center for Civic Communications, persuading the journalists to use the right of free access to public information as a useful tool in their everyday work is a key challenge. „It is very important not to give up and not to remain mute when the institutions hide the information“, she stressed.
The representative of the Commission for Protection of the Right for Free Access to Information of Public Character, Cvetan Stanoeski, emphasized that this body supports the idea for shortening the period in which the institutions are obliged to reply to the requests for public information, from 30 to 15 days.