Kosovo Journalist Wins 2010 Balkan Fellowship Prize (Nov. 15)

Majlinda Aliu from Kosovo, wins first prize in this year’s Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence Programme for her article “Trapped in Black: Balkan War Widows”.

Majinda, a journalist with Kosovo public television RTK, received an award of €4,000.

Second-place, and a prize of €3,000 was awarded to Macedonian journalist Ruzica Fotinovska for article “Freed prisoners remain caught behind bars”, and third prize, and €1,000 went to Jeton Musliu for his article “Kosovars Turn Blind Eye to Fake Foreign Marriages”.

The three prize-winners, selected by a panel of judges including Croatian journalist and writer Slavenka Drakulic, Gerald Knaus, president of the European Stability Initiative and Josef Kirchengast from the Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard, were announced at an award ceremony in Vienna on Friday, November 12.

Members of the jury praised the quality of reporting of all three winning fellows and noted that articles covered topic previously unexplored in the mainstream media and felt that they could serve to bring about important debates on issues of relevance to Balkan society.

This year’s writers addressed the topic of ‘Taboo’ from a host of different angles, exploring issues that shape and change society. […]

While I appreciate that articles by the two Albanian winners didn’t shy away from unflattering aspects about Albanian society, I do hope that at least included among the contenders was Jeton Llapashtica — who was fired from Besa TV last year for asking a government spokesman about a musical band critical of the political establishment. Even more impressive was Jeta Xharra, against whom a full-on campaign ensued by members of the media, public, and government — and included open, published threats on her life. Like one of the winners, her show “Life in Kosovo” airs on RTK, but that show actually investigates things like freedom of speech in Kosovo, corruption by public officials, and atrocities committed by the KLA.

One would have hoped that Xharra would be one of the winners, especially given that among the judges was Slavenka Drakulic, a Croatian journalist who lives in exile thanks to the threats on her life for having been critical of her society.