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About us

Implementing organisation

Organisational Background and Capacity to implement the projects

 

WHO WE ARE

Our mission

In times of extremely large scale and uncontrolled propaganda spread both through traditional and new media, the right of the citizens to have accurate and relevant information is limited. This affects strongly the ability of the citizens to make the right decisions for themselves. One of the strongest illustration of this limitation can be seen in the intervention on their rights to vote on democratic elections due to the widely spread propaganda and misinformation both on traditional and digital media platforms. The media stakeholders are loosing trust and parallel to this process there is big drop in trust in institutions as well as drops in the voter turnouts on elections, not just in Macedonia, but also in the region and globally. On the other hand, corruption and organized crime, as well as weak institutions that do not implement the principles of rule of law is leading to fast growing inequality among citizens. In 2015 the UN adopted the new development goals – the struggle for equal opportunities. The reasons for this trends are spoted in the increased corruption practices in the developing countries. The Investigative Reporting Lab aims to increase the influence of the investigative reporting in society and help citizens understand how corruption affect their lives. Through brave, innovative and interdisciplinary approach that involves reporters cooperation with academic community, technology experts, marketing experts, bloggers, civil society activist, we aim to rebuild trust in institutions by building trust in media as a watch dog in society.

Strategic goals

  • Development of investigative and analytic reporting through synergy with various stakeholders and beneficiary groups
  • Increasing the influence of the investigating and watch dog reporting through innovation in the creation of content and meeting the real needs of the citizens
  • Increasing trust in media by the citizens as watch dog in society through strengthening  the communication of their needs and influencing institutions to be more accountable and transparent with our reporting
  • Inclusion of youth in creation of sustainable media environment resistant to political and corruptive influences through direct involvement of students, scholars and young reporters in our work and trainings.
  • Testing models of sustainability for independent organizations that cover corruption and rule of law through innovative social entrepreneurship

Our team

IRL Macedonia was founded in December 2017 as a result of more factors, but among them the need of a: female friendly environment that will allowed women journalist to be included in the design making process over the content production and impact on audience by being able to create independently editorial policies; to enable not just an investigative newsrooms, but also a teaching organization that will train the next generation of journalist under the highest ethical and professional standards and will enforce the standardization of fact checking; to guarantee reporting free of economic and political pressures; to innovate in the approach and create working environment where the use of new technologies and inter – disciplinary approaches will be possible and, to enable a competitive environment for reporters based on merits and team work.

Our founders are coming from diverse background and they were all wisely chosen in order to reflect our mission and goals. The organizational board is fully lead by women, and founders represent young  mid-career professionals.

Founder and President: Saska Cvetkovska, Investigative reporter

Founder and Vicepresident: Elena Mitrevska, technology experts (IT and graphic design)

Founder and Secretary general: Nevena Angelovska, project manager

Founder and Member of executive board: Maja Jovanovsksa, investigative reporter

Founder and Member of executive board: Aleksandra Denkovska, investigative reporter

Founder: Jovan Dimitrov, marketing expert

Founder: Kristina Tilic, financial expert

Founder: Teodora Popovska, civil society activists and local governance expert

Founder: Trajce Antonovski, video and TV expert

CAPACITY TO IMPLEMENT THE PROJECT

IRL Macedonia was founded with initial support by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Our media organization is the first in the country with a tech expert on board and our tech expert is the only female tech expert in the network of OCCRP of 30 organizations across Europe and Central Asia.  IRL is a member of OCCRP and as such, has access to tools and data bases, as well as various expertise in journalism and tecnollogy. This type of access represents are a rare privilege in many worldwide renowned media. This access will be used during the implementation of the project.

IRL is currently producing the investigative magazine PROVERENO (Checked) that is airing on TV24 news every Tuesday. The all female magazine that deals with corruption and rule of law has already beaten the rates and is currently among the top 10 highest rated political magazines with an average share of 7,6 although it air since February this year. Also, in the preparation of this proposal, we were using the experience of communication with citizens and noticed that the highest rates and wide reactions were received on the two separate tv magazines  that were dealing with urban planning and the so called urban mafia.

Project leader and expert– Saska Cvetkovska

The president and editor in chief Saska Cvetkovska is the leading investigative reporter in the country and the most awarded investigative journalist with more then 10 national and international prizes, among them the European “Press Freedom Award 2018 – A signal for Europe”awarded by the Repoters without Border – Austria for her cross-border work on the information war in the Balkans. She is author of Mediapedia, the database of Macedonian media ownership, as well as Spooks and Spins and currently works on finding  solutions and testing ideas that help addressing the impact of propaganda and strengthen the impact of real journalism as essential tool for fighting misinformation.

In the past years Macedonian investigative reporter Saska Cvetkovska worked on series of national and cross-border investigations that exposed corruption, espionage and trade of influence in the global information wars. She was working on topics such as propaganda and misinformation and their conncections with grand corruption as a new tools used to threaten democracies. Many of the stories that Cvetkovska broke while she and her team were under constant threats, attacks and long term surveillance and years long wiretapped communications by the Government. Her work appeared in the Guardian, Buzzfeed and other global media leading outlets.

Saska Cvetkovska is also the author of t“Get data” an online tool that maps all the available data recourses and bases by institutions and other stakeholders in Macedonia. This online guidance  is design to help investigative reporters, academic researchers, as well as NGOs and students of journalism to dig deeper by using the available informations online. In cooperation with the NGO Most Cvetkovska trained more than 100 local CSO and reporters across the country to dig public data online and offline based on the Get Data findings.

 

In the past 5 years  implemented four investigative, data and media projects sponsored by various donor (among them NED, The Dutch Embassy, EU and USAID). She managed full implementation over the projects totally worth more than 400,000 Euros and managed to boost changes and influenced on the understanding of the importance of high quality investigative reporting in the media landscape. A list of contacts among donors is available upon request if such vetting applies.

 

Administrative manager – Nevena Angelovska

Nevena Angelovska is an 15 years experienced project manager that has worked on administrating and managing different types of projects in the area of CSOs and media. She has experience in the area of public relations as al long term PR of film international festivals,  regional media organizations and an experience in managing project in public institutions. Angelovska will oversee the implementation of our project, will be responsible for administrating the funds together with the project maager, communicating the donors, accountancy and will assist in organization of the media camps since she is experienced in organizing regional panels, festivals and other events.

Editor and expert – Maja Jovanovska

Maja Jovanovska is an experience investigative reporter and corruption experts. She is member of the Council of Ethics and member of the board of the Independent Media Union. Jovanovska has been among the leading TV journalist that were reporting on corruption and crime.  She is multi-awarder for her stories. Jovanovska follows closely local corruption and effects of corruption on citizens daily lifes. Jovanovska was a member of the board of the Association of Journalist and currently serves as a member of the Ethics council of media.. Together with Cvetkovska, she was training repoters and CSOs representatives on investigating reporting techniques through Macedonia as part of cooperation with the NGO Most.  She will work alongside with Cvetkovska on the trainings with the young journalist as well as the other mayor investigation. She will oversee the work of other reporters.  Together with Saska Cvetkovska they will teach reporters on fact checking procedure, among other.

Techology expert – Elena Mitrevska

Elena Mitrevska is the first technology expert involved in the work of media. She came to work for investigative reporters practically as a volunteer and left her promising and high paid career as an IT expert in one of the mayor banks in the country. Mitrevska works in 5 different programs languages learned in her 9 years experience in the bank, and she is also responsible for the graphics design, which is her primary high education. She is the first tech personnel so far trained to work with reporters in the newsrooms. She came up with the technology solutions for Get Data, she is trained in creating data recourse and she works on the designs used to make the content user friendly.  Under the guadliance and in cooperation with the Chief of Tech in OCCRP, Mitrevska is tasked to oversee the digital security of the reporters.  Under this project, Mitrevska will work on the designs and creation of the Urban Danger projects, and she will be in charge to work with the Communicating experts on the designs and graphics used for stories and communicating the public.  Among other experts, she will also train young reporters how to think about data visualisations and safety.

Communication – Jovan Dimitrov

Jovan Dimitrov is a marketing experts with focus on digital brand promotion. He worked as marketing advisor in NLB  bank, but he is mostly known through his civic activism. He was the first person that popuirized the blogging among youth 10 years ago when he created the first and famous blog aggregator Blogirame.MK later smashed when Facebook strengthen its positions as a voice on the internet..He is the founder of Twitter Awards, one of the most popular events in the country that are awarding on early bases the different engagements of the twitter users in Macedonia. Mr. Dimitrov has been training CSO activist and journalist how to best promote their work and engage with citizens. He has been also teaching online digital marketing techniques upon invitation of a university in Switzerland. He will be responsible for the communication plan for the project and as a trainee in the media camps. He will also work closely with repoters and tech personell.

Organization’s key achievments so far

  • With limited funds of only 3,000 euros per months and volunteers and supporters we launched one of the top 10 TV programs in the country – the TV magazine Provereno;
  • Our stories on Russian meddling, make global impact. The Investigative Reporting Lab stories were quoted in mass media, republished by NATO, quoted in policy brief by the European Councul of Foreign Affairs, papers published by  Columbia University Fellows and Oxford University Press, famous global think tank strategic analyses, the Interdisciplinary journal of Southeast European University, Prague Security Studies Institute, books, ;
  • In March 2018 in Vienna, Austria, our editor Saska Cvetkovska won the Freedom of Press Award “Signal for Europe” by the Reporters without borders;
  • Our reporters were interviewed because of our stories for global media such as BBC, Bloomberg, Vice, AJ Plus, our investigation on Russian influence in the referendum on the name deal made us quoted in globally influential media, including the NYC Times , but also in media in many other Europan ;
  • Our organization was presented at the most important media event in the region – EU Western Balkan Media Days in organization by the European Commission where we were invite to present our work and to be directly involved in the designing of recommendations for future funding in media with representative from our organization who was rapourter on one of the 3 grand panels;
  • Our ground-braking investigation on the fake news industry in Veles in collaboration with Buzzfeed enable us to promote IRL as credible partner for global media. The story was republished in hundreds of media globally and was retweed at leas 2,000 times;
  • We mentored and assisted in the process of creation of the first after decades in depth youth TV magazine KRIK. ;
  • Our investigation on the assets of one of the biggest political parties led to the arrest of investigation that lead to freezing assets worth at least 30 millions of Euros;
  • Our investigation of the assets in media in Macedonia and Slovenia owned by Hungarian PM Victor Orban lead to international investigation by the Macedonian Financial Police.
  • Оur reporting on nepotism led to massive resigns in pubic administration upon a public call by the PM, but also lead to an ongoing investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission.

 

 

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