Dragan Šojić, former Head of the Service for Joint Affairs of Institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, made history this year — but not for the reason you might think.
Thanks to brilliant investigative reporting by independent media outlet and Internews partner Žurnal, Šojić is one of the highest-level officials arrested for corruption in a country known for its fragile political and judicial systems.
Šojić stands accused of abuse of office, embezzlement, fraud, and other offenses. Allegations against Šojić broke in a story published in January 2022 by Žurnal, a key partner USAID’s Balkan Media Assistance Program (BMAP). This collaboration improved Žurnal’s ability to tackle complex corruption cases and helped increase their real-world impact.
It’s hardly the first time Žurnal has been a key player in exposing corruption and lies at the highest levels of the country’s government: In 2021, Žurnal documented 51 instances whereby reporting sparked action, including arrests, resignations, and the cancellation of contracts awarded behind closed doors.
Internews began working with Žurnal in 2018, providing grants and technical assistance, building investigative reporting skills, increasing their technological capacities, and enabling greater digital security. In 2020, Internews provided an embedded editor, an insider at the Public Procurement Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Working alongside Žurnal’s newsroom, Internews expert has helped review publicly available documents to identify corruption cases and guide the formulation of stories to minimize the outlet’s exposure to risks.
Bosnia and Herzegovina ranks 110 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Corruption in the country is closely tied to malign foreign influence and politicians seeking to destabilize the country’s fragile political system.
BMAP ended its activities in June 2022, but the work of Žurnal and the impact of the outlet’s reporting will endure.