As journalists and independent media outlets in Central Europe work in increasingly difficult environments characterized by media ownership concentration, job insecurity, digital targeting and espionage, many – particularly freelance journalists – do not have the support needed to address such threats. As a result, these individuals and organizations are often ill-equipped to respond to increasingly complex online attacks as well.
Internews’ Journalist Security Fellowship (JSF) program aims to address some of these challenges by awarding 30 fellowships to journalists from Central Europe aimed at improving their digital security skills and providing them with guidance and mentorship to promote related learnings in their local communities.
The program officially kicked off in June with a three-day virtual workshop hosted by Internews that explored the specific needs and contexts of the fellows. Since then, fellows have continued to immerse themselves in digital security topics through an independent study curriculum tailored specifically for program and monthly discussion meet-ups.
This cohort of fellows represents the diversity of journalists working across the region. We are excited to introduce some of the JSF fellows who come from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia below:
Kata Kincső Bárdos, Freelance Journalist, Hungary Kata is a freelance journalist and media masters student who currently lives and works in Budapest, Hungary. She likes to cover interesting life stories, social issues, and culture. For Kata, being a journalist in Hungary is not an easy way of living, but she is really determined and is working and learning to be a good professional, including through initiatives like JSF.
Kamil Bałuk, Poland, Instytut Reportażu Kamil Bałuk is a reporter. He graduated with degrees in Sociology, Dutch Studies, and Journalism from the Polish Reportage School and is also the author of the book “Wszystkie dzieci Louisa” [All of Louis’s Children], published in Poland in 2017. He was awarded the Ryszard Kapuściński Scholarship to support his project of a reportage collection on the modern Netherlands, which he is currently working. In addition, he hosts a popular Polish podcast about the contemporary history of Polish TV.
Maja Čakarić, Oštro - Center for Investigative Journalism in the Adriatic Region, Slovenia, Maja is a graduate of the comparative literature studies but has decided to follow the path of journalism. Before joining Oštro in 2018, she worked for different media outlets, most prominently for Delo as a journalist and editor of its web site. There, she also collaborated with the journalists that oversaw the Panama Papers investigation, which won the Pulitzer prize award. In the last few years, she has been especially keen on co-creating of the podcast Strašno hudi (Absolutely Awesome).
Magor Campbell, Merce.hu, Hungary Magor works for Merce.hu, a left-wing online news and opinion site in Hungary that is funded entirely by its readers. He is also an activist in areas of Social Solidarity Economy and Food Sovereignty. At Mérce, he works as the system administrator, and is particularly interested in JSF as it will help him share information about digital security with his colleagues
Marius Daea, Newsweek - Romania, Romania Marius is a journalist with over 27 years of experience in print, radio, and TV. He started in 1993 as a correspondent reporter from Gorj for Radio Romania Oltenia Craiova. Since 1998, he has continued his professional activity as a reporter and TV producer at Antena 1 Târgu Jiu. From 2004 to 2010, he was the director of this local station. Marius has a degree in International Relations and European Studies. He is a member of the Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and Clean Energy Wire Berlin. He is also an associate member of the European Federation for Science Journalism and works as a freelance investigative reporter for Newsweek Romania.
Antun Katalenić, Svet24, Slovenia Antun is a Ljubljana-based journalist who primarily writes about politics and sports and feels most comfortable on the intersection of the two. He’s a second generation immigrant and a co-host of the only Croatian language radio show in Slovenia. An unenthusiastic university student, he got into journalism by auditioning at Radio Študent, where he spent a couple of years as editor of the political desk before moving elsewhere. He now does most of his work covering politics & society topics for Svet24, a daily newspaper from Ljubljana.
Agnieszka M. Lisik, Freelance Journalist, Poland Agnieszka is a freelance journalist and photographer. She published articles in "Open Democracy," "Gazeta Wyborcza," "Krytyka Polityczna." Her focus is on technology, internet, cybersecurity, privacy and human rights. She is also a student of the Polish School of Reportage.
Cristina Lupu, Center for Independent Journalism, Romania Cristina is the Executive Director of the Center for Independent Journalism, România. She has an experience of more than 15 years in the media field, having worked as a journalist and as a media developer with CIJ. She authored several reports focusing on the Romanian media landscape. In the last decade, she also pioneered media literacy classes in Romanian schools.
Anna Mikulska, Freelance Journalist, Poland Anna, a cultural anthropologist by training, is based in Warsaw, Poland. She writes about migration, modern slavery, and human rights. As a reporter, she worked in Belarus, Spain, Lampedusa and Iraqi Kurdistan. She has published, among others, in Gazeta Wyborcza, Wysokie Obcasy, Krytyka Polityczna, OKO.Press, Onet and Pismo Magazine.
Maciek Piasecki, OKO.press, Poland Maciek covers protests and acts of civil disobedience across Poland and Eastern Europe for the crowdfunded human rights and rule of law website OKO.press. He specialises in direct livestreams as well as no-frills video edited on a mobile, often in the field as events unfold, be it a workers’ blockade of an Amazon warehouse, a small-town Pride march, or a nationalist rally. The films, often documenting instances of police abuse of power, are regularly used as court evidence. His fields of professional interests currently include weaponised misinformation, communications security, police tactics and procedures, the right to protest, and free speech.
Daniel Rząsa, 300Gospodarka, Poland Daniel serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Polish economic news website 300Gospodarka.pl. Apart from his editorial role, he teaches fact-checking, verification, and data journalism, among other skills. Most recently, with the help of the Democracy Council of California, he taught journalists from the 20+ largest local newsrooms in Poland how to debunk state-sponsored propaganda. Prior to this, he served as Teaching Fellow, CEE, at Google News Lab, where he trained over 4,000 journalists and other professionals across 14 countries on a wide range of topics including maps and data visualization.
Domen Savič, Drzavljan D, Slovenia Domen Savič is the director of the NGO Drzavljan D (Citizen D). In his role of the director of a non-governmental organization, he is focusing on developing long-term projects related to digital rights, communication privacy and digital security, media regulation and active citizen participation in the political sphere.
Zoltán Sipos, Átlátszó Erdély, Romania Zoltán is a journalist who currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief and Manager of Átlátszó Erdély (atlatszo.ro), an investigative journalism outlet focusing on issues regarding the 1,2 million Hungarian community living in Transylvania, Romania.
Mirek Tóda, Denník N/Daily N, Slovakia Mirek is a reporter and head of the foreign desk at Denník N/Daily N, a Slovak daily newspaper. As a reporter, he mostly covered post-Soviet Europe and the Middle East. Besides his professional work, Mirek produces a weekly podcast show about Jewishness called Kosher podcast. For a few years, he was preparing the official newspaper for the Globsec security conference in Bratislava as its editor. Before Denník N came into existence in 2015, Mirek had been working at the foreign desk in the Denník SME/Daily SME.
Alexandra Tóthová, Strategic Analysis, Slovakia Alexandra is the COO and Project Manager at Strategic Analysis, a Slovakia-based independent boutique think-tank providing expertise for the private sector, public institutions, media, and civil society where she focuses projects on the European Neighbourhood with particular emphasis on the Western Balkans and South Caucasus. Over her career, she worked for various think-tanks: the GLOBSEC Policy Institute and MESA10. She also has experience with the corporate sphere.
Jaroslav Valuch, Transitions, Czech Republic Jaroslav is an experienced practitioner in the field of media literacy, factchecking, disinformation, countering hate speech, and communication with crisis-affected populations. Jaroslav has worked with dozens of organizations and civic initiatives in Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. He is a news literacy and factchecking project manager at Transitions, a Prague-based media development organization, with a special focus on elderly citizens. Since 2005, Jaroslav has been working closely with the One World in Schools Program of the People in Need organization on the implementation of media literacy into the educational curriculum. Jaroslav is also a co-founder of the Institute for Social Inclusion where he oversees hate violence and extremism related programs. In 2010 Jaroslav was a Fulbright Fellow at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.
Julie Vinklova, Fakescape, Czech Republic Julie is a co-founder of an NGO called Fakescape which uses gamification to educate mostly young people about disinformation. Julie is currently studying Erasmus Mundus Journalism at Aarhus University and she gained her work experience by doing multiple internships - for example at the Prague Security Studies Institute, Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Czech Radio.
Jan Žabka, HlídacíPes.org, Czech Republic Jan is a young journalist from the Czech Republic. He focuses on the topic of disinformation, and loves conducting open source investigations and mappings of the Czech Republic's state media environment. He works for HlídacíPes.org, a news site, and studies New Media Studies at the Charles University in Prague. Before that, during his bachelor studies in Olomouc, he was editor-in-chief of the Houpací Osel student magazine. He collaborated with Bellingcat, an international investigative team, and analyzed hate speech in social media groups.
As part of the fellowship program, Internews also partnered with six non-governmental organizations based in the region. All of them work closely with the media and deeply understand the threats and challenges regional journalists face. As such, they assist Internews with the recruitment and selection of fellows, coordinating local engagements, and related program activities. These organizations include:
Center for Independent Journalism Hungary: The Budapest Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ) was established in 1995 and has since sought to support quality and ethical journalism aimed at contributing to a media environment where freedom of expression and freedom of the press are protected and promoted. CIJ works on this mission by implementing mentoring and internship programs, facilitating professional dialogue via events and exchanges, and training journalist, media students, and managers on a non-profit basis. CIJ also publishes training resource materials in Hungarian
Center for Independent Journalism Bucharest (Romania): For over 25 years, the Center for Independent Journalism has worked to protect democracy and those who believe in its values. CJI remains a promoter of universal values and a partner of those who want to contribute to the consolidation of a free and diverse society. It has trained over 15,000 media professionals, 3,000 teachers and 30,000 students and continues to promote fundamental democratic values for new generations through its programs. CJI’s core values include public interests, critical thinking, freedom of speech, professionalism, and diversity.
Citizen D: Citizen D is an NGO based in Slovenia working on the inclusive promotion of human rights and digital rights. Citizen D is well-connected with both the training and journalist communities in the Central Europe region. Additionally, they have experience with convenings in the region and will be able to provide on-the-ground support for in-person convenings.
Instytut Reportażu: Instytut Reportażu (IR) is an NGO based in Poland specializing in promoting non-fiction works, and operating a publishing house, year-long course for journalists, and a bookstore and café. IR has experience coordinating and leading events and trainings targeting journalists. They also have an extensive network of journalists across Poland and have previously administered digital safety trainings for journalists.
Memo 98: MEMO98 helps people receive fair and comprehensive information about public affairs. Having worked for 23 years in Slovakia and abroad, Memo belongs to global leaders in media monitoring and elections. Its main goal is to ensure that people require good quality media content – essential for the enhancing of their critical thinking. The organization was originally founded in partnership with the National Democratic Institute.
Transitions: Transitions (TOL) was founded in 1999 and over the past 21 years has built up a reputation as one of Central Europe’s leading journalism educators. To date, more than 10,000 journalists from around the world have passed through TOL’s training programs and workshops, which have specialized in journalism and new media instruction.
In the coming months, Internews will begin to recruit its second cohort of JSF fellows. If you are from Albania, Croatia, or Bulgaria, and are interested in taking part, watch out for upcoming news about the application process.