Presenting FAIRPRESS investigative journalists II: Ilko Ćimić, Tina Disopra, Tihomila Jovanović, Nenad Bunjac
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Translation: Fairpress
FAIRPRESS IRIS, Investigative Reporting and Information Service is a project of the association Partnership for Social Development (PSD) created by the synergy of two big projects:  MEDIA CIRCLE and E-SCORE with the financial support of the European Union. The idea of “merging” the media project (i.e. the project that deals exclusively with media, political influence, journalist profession, rights and freedoms of journalists) and a project that deals with building a tool for the fight against corruption materialised after a story about a paradox was published on the portal Fairpress last year. In the academic year 2013/2014 investigative journalism course was cancelled at the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb. Colleague Maja Čirjak then pondered upon the following question: “If reporters will report mainly on what officials or institutions say, who will be there to ask the questions WHY and HOW?” With the media blockage of every serious and professional discussion on corruption and the fact that most journalists who dealt with that kind of issues got fired or were transferred to places where they couldn’t do anything serious, the solution became obvious. There were just two possible roads to choose: either slowly sink into the flood of interest-driven news and reports, or to do something and strengthen the weakest media link – investigative journalism. As PSD has always responded to the needs of society, this time the situation was no different. We rolled up our sleeves and started working on the huge project called FP IRIS. In the previous article we presented four investigative journalists: Darko Markušić, Danijel Prerad, Marija Knežević and Mašenjka Bačić.  Now we’re continuing with the introduction of four more investigative journalists who constitute the investigative editorial staff of the portal FAIRPRESS.  

Nenad Bunjac is one of the journalists “renounced” by editors and media owners, in the circumstances we previously described. He is an investigative journalist, a war reporter and a columnist with extensive experience in all of the leading Croatian media. His unwavering professional reputation is followed by his equally unwavering personality. As a freelance journalist he thrived in the creative atmosphere of newsrooms headed by Veljko Vičević (“Novi list”) and Viktor Ivančić (“Feral Tribune”), and his career was greatly determined by investigative articles and political commentaries which led him to be, among other things, under surveillance for many years by state bodies which we do not tend to mention publicly. After a creative break, during which he dedicated himself to literary writing and music, today he is writing again with former fervour for Fairpress on a subject that greatly determines the quality of the Croatian society and democracy – corruption. According to Nenad, the fight against corruption is a professional privilege of journalists and a civic duty of individuals where character and value system of a society are put to the test. Nenad briefly described his key motive for working on the FP IRIS programme: the fact that corruption in Croatian society seems to be huge and omnipresent and the fight against it seems impossible and pointless, motivated me to try and make a better reality and create equal life opportunities with a modern generation of journalists in the ambitious Fairpress team. Nenad’s journalistic style is uncompromising with ironic reflections.  His message to the readers is:

Always the same, never again….

Tihomila Jovanović, freelance journalist, associate of the portal Tportal, will cover her beloved region Slavonia; its cities, municipalities, familiar and non-familiar tycoons. Tihomila started her journalism internship at the newspaper IPC Vjesnik in Osijek. During the Croatian War of Independence she was a war reporter after which she continued her work at Jutarnji list, HRT (Croatian Radiotelevision) and RTL (Radio Television Luxembourg). She has been dealing with investigative stories almost all of her career along with permanent employments. One of the investigative stories that caused a public commotion was the one where she found out about an affair concerning the head of the gynaecology department of the clinical hospital centre in Osijek, whose license in Croatia was revoked after that. For Tihomila this project means an opportunity and means to detect corruption. Her main motive for working in the Fairpress team is creating a better and more organized

society where it would be a pleasure to live in, because we would know that values are being evaluated honestly and appropriately and not via certain “next of kin” connections. In writing Tihomila finds accuracy and verified data extremely important factors and states:

Discovering the truth, telling a story, the  background and invisible links is the most important task of the journalistic profession. I never stood down from this goal regardless of how creative people tend to be in pressuring journalists. Therefore my only promise is – I will not change.

From the east of Croatia we once again move to the south. Tina Disopra is a journalist with a long-term experience in daily and weekly newspapers and electronic media (radio and television). During her career she covered all topics of social significance. Tina is capable of doing almost every task, but her passion is, the same as for the majority in Fairpress team, investigative journalism. Tina finds that for quality work in journalism positive energy is important; and the desire and will for changing the world for the better brought her to the FP IRIS program. For Tina, data journalism, which enables a journalist to neutrally process the topic of corruption, guided by data and the social context in which that data exist, means the return to the fundamental mission of the journalistic profession where journalists become the improvement of the community. Tina’s journalistic style is summarized in two simple words: Thorough and independent. To her readers she promises:

Every data in my stories will be checked as required by the journalistic profession and the moral obligation that I have toward the public.

The last journalist we will present in this edition is a journalist of the portal Index.hr, Ilko Ćimić. What is there to say about Ilko that the profession and the public do not already know? He received the award “Marija Jurić Zagorka” of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) for best investigative and internet journalist. In 2011 he received his first award in the category of best investigative journalist for revealing the affair Kamensko, where he proved that the owner of the EPH group, Ninoslav Pavić, was behind the destruction of Kamensko. That is also the first time that the award ended up in the hands of an online journalist. He received the same award in the category of best internet journalist of the year 2013 for a series of articles where he revealed the pre-bankruptcy settlements of Slavko Linić. According to the research of MediaNet, he is the best journalist in the category of web portal in the year 2015. For Ilko the key value of the FP IRIS program is precisely its technical component, i.e. the “machine”. Because of the impossibility to sort and go through a huge amount of data, today journalists often give up on stories; sometimes due to the lack of time and sometimes due to the failure of noticing possible irregularities. That is why I was interested in the announcement of the program whose core component is a tool that single-handedly provides important information on public procurement and it is easy to spot anomalies that are worth investigating. According to Ilko, his style of writing is an ongoing battle; it continues and it never stops. To his readers on Fairpress he promises:

Next time we will be even more ferocious.

He reminds us all that the favourite article is the one written last, because journalists don’t rest on their laurels!

For now that’s it regarding the project, circumstances which led to its realisation and the people and resources engaged in the implementation. Read about everything else in the investigative stories to come.

Connected articles: Presenting FAIRPRESS IRIS journalists: Darko Markušić, Danijel Prerad, Marija Knežević, Mašenjka Bačić; FP IRIS: Synergy of two big EU projects (E-SCORE and MEDIA CIRCLE); FP IRIS: “Machine” calibrated to identify anomalies in the conduct of politicians will generate names and numbers which will be used by journalists in their work

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