European Journalism – trainings, traineeships, opportunities for development

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Panoramic picture of the Hemicycle of the EP in Strasbourg.AEJ – Bulgaria starts series of publications with useful information and opportunities for training and development of journalists in various spheres. We encourage you to take a look at various traineeships, programmes, grants and scholarships, appropriate for journalists, who cover the European topics.
You can read advices of journalists, who have took advantage of the given opportunities, and to guide you to the most appropriate opportunities for your interests and expertise.

Trainings, seminars, traineeships

1. Seminars and trainings of European Journalism Centre
The European Journalism Centre is an independent NGO organization, which basic goal is to support the work of journalists and to popularize high journalist standards. The Centre provides various journalist trainings, workshops, discussions, briefings, seminars, etc. Most of these cover important EU topics. The Centre also offers joint scholarship programs with Asian countries, and travels in the developing countries, to which the EU gives financial support.
You can find information for the ongoing projects of EJC here:
http://ejc.net/projects/ongoing/information-events-for-journalists-european-commission and for the upcoming trainings – http://ejc.net/training.
The Centre has an online platform – ejcseminats.eu – for the journalists, who would like to participate in the briefings and seminars on various topics, relevant to EU. The list of the upcoming seminars is here: http://ejcseminars.eu/index.php/seminars.
The EJC seminars are one of the most popular and good opportunities for detailed acquaintance with a specific topic, relevant to EU, and for making contacts with journalists and experts from different European countries. Many experts from various spheres are invited for lecturers – representatives of the EC or the European Parliament, NGO and Academic experts and CEOs of multinational companies. The goal is to show all points of view on a specific topic.
The Centre covers the expenses for travel and stay in the town in which the seminar is held, plus one dinner, which is also an occasion for making informal contacts between the participants from different European countries. The meetings are organized in different European towns, depending on the topic, and there are travels to non-EU countries as well. The journalists are expected to write an article related to the topic of their travel or just to extend their knowledge on a specific matter significant to EU after the seminar.
The EJC seminars are not only for journalists, covering matters, relevant to EU. Depending on the topic, the seminars are also appropriate for journalists in different spheres, e.g. sports, technologies, economics. You can apply with CV, cover letter and reference from your employer or supervisor.
Advice
We include the recommendations of Kristina Hristova of AEJ – Bulgaria, who regularly participates in the EJC seminars:
Do not underestimate the cover letter – you must explain in it how the seminar would be useful for your work as a journalist.
 

  • Prepare yourself well before the seminar; check the participants and the lecturers, so your contacts with them are most useful. If you do your homework well, your participation will be useful indeed, otherwise you risk being isolated from the discussions and missing the possibility of creating contacts. I have often seen journalists, who view the seminars as a tourist walk, and for them this is only a waste of time, because they spend half a day snoozing and waiting for their free time.
  • Send the organizers the article or articles, which you have written after the seminar, or articles, influenced from the matters, that you have learned at the seminar. Giving feedback and recommendations for improvement would be useful to the programme. This will show a proper attitude from you, because the EJC must report to the European Commission the utility of the seminars, which have been funded by the Commission. Secondly this creates effective communication with the team of EJC. It would be useful for you, because in the future the EJC will notify you about interesting opportunities, which you could have otherwise missed.

2. Seminars, conferences and trainings of the Council of Europe
One of the causes of the Council of Europe is to protect and encourage the freedom of expression and the freedom of media. That’s why the Council regularly organizes seminars, conferences and various other public activities. Some of the activities of the Council, related to the protection of freedom of expression and media, are trainings for journalists.
You can find all the upcoming events of the Council of Europe here:
http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/media/
 
3. Traineeships in the European institutions
The European institutions offer various possibilities for traineeships for young journalists – paid or unpaid, as part of education or for graduates with general or journalist background for one, three or five months, etc. Its common goal is to give opportunity to interested people with appropriate background to extend their knowledge for EU and to get familiar with the work of the institutions.
If you are a journalist, you can apply for traineeship not only on general option with all the other candidates in any of the institution, but for the specially set:
Traineeship in the European Parliament with journalism option
The candidates must prove professional experience in that sphere – with publications or with membership in journalist organizations in an EU member state, or acquired journalist qualification, acknowledged in the EU countries or EU candidate countries.
The period of the traineeship is five months and it can’t be extended. The traineeships are organized twice per year – in the spring (1 March – 31 July) and in the autumn (1 October – 28/29 February). You can apply for the spring session from 15 August till 15 October, and for the autumn – from 15 March to 15 May. You apply by an online form, which cancels automatically all unfinished applications.
You could only apply for one of the two traineeship options. If you have sent more than one application, only the last submitted is accepted.
The journalist traineeship is held at the Directorate-General for Communication of EP. The positions are different and are connected with covering the different Parliamentary Committees, media monitoring, event organization, etc. “The success of the traineeship depends mostly on you – some trainees complain about lack of work, others are happy with that, and third are overloaded with tasks. In all cases you have to keep in mind, that, in first place, this is administrative work, which, however, gives you a unique possibility to get familiar with the institutions from inside”, tells Maria Cheresheva of AEJ – Bulgaria, who passed such traineeship in the first half of 2011.
You can find detailed information for journalist traineeships in EU here:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/aboutparliament/bg/007cecd1cc/Traineeships.html
Advice
The European Parliament does not recommend applying in the last moment to avoid the risk of overloading the system due to the large number of applications.
Doichin Cholakov, Press Officer of EP in Brussels:
I, personally, examine very closely the cover letters of the candidates, which I’ve selected on the base of their CVs. Sometimes I call them by the phone, if I have questions, but most of all I highly appreciate distinct interest in the sphere in which we work and realistic expectations. Sometimes I can hear a candidate, especially if his/her CV is really good and I want to motivate him/her to choose this traineeship, in case he/she has other offers, because it is not rare candidates to change their choice during the procedure.
Maria Cheresheva of AEJ – Bulgaria, former trainee in EP (March – July 2011) gives useful advices to the journalists, who are already approved for traineeship:

  • If it is possible, “attach yourself” to Parliamentary Committee according to your interests – this means that you are going to cover its activity for the needs of the parliamentary Press Office. Thus you will have the opportunity to acquire objective and deep look at the processes in EP, the political fights and the forming of the European laws and policies.
  • Use the opportunity to attend the events, which the Parliament organizes – in between the cocktails and the National Holidays, there are many interesting conferences, debates, discussions and even movie screenings at which you can make useful contacts and learn something new.
  • Be active and demand from you supervisor tasks, according to your capabilities and interests – in EP there are hundreds of trainees all the time and there is a risk to get lost yourself in the flow of people. Otherwise (depending of the supervisor, of course, I myself was lucky) the traineeship can turn into five months party, which is not bad, but leads to missed opportunities.
  • Create contacts outside the institutions as well – they will be useful in your journalist work in the future or for your career in institutions, if you make that choice.
  • The five months stay in Brussels opens the possibility to get familiar also with the work of international media organizations, to attend its events and initiatives and to make useful contacts.
  • Write – the journalist traineeship in EP is much more in the sphere of the public relations than the journalism, and very likely has nothing common with your previous media experience. At the same time, in Brussels you will see and hear many things, which are worth covering. You can write for local media in Bulgaria, to write a blog, to use the social media.

Other traineeships in the European institutions, appropriate for journalists
The graduates with journalist experience can apply for traineeships in other European institutions, depending on their interests and education. Appropriate for journalists are the traineeships in “Communications” Directorates, where there are different possibilities to use their journalist skills – for example – to support the unit, which is responsible for the internal communication in the institution, the pressroom, etc.
If you have experience, appropriate education and specific interests, you can also apply in some of the other Directorates.
The conditions for applying in the different institutions, agencies and committees are specific, that’s why we recommend to you to take a look at each one of them here:
http://ec.europa.eu/bulgaria/citizens/training_careers/traineeships/index_bg.htm
The success of your application depends of your cover letter, your specific skills and experience, education and last, but not least, whether in the current moment the respective Directorate needs experts with your profile.
(Editor’s note: The author is a journalist and has been trainee of Directorate-General “Communications and Transparency” in the Council of Europe in the period February-June 2013. You can read more of his traineeship, as well as some practical advises for applying or stay during the traineeship, in the blog brusselsdiaries.wordpress.com)
4. Trainings of European Movement
The organization European Movement holds trainings and webinars in the sphere of the European policies for students, lecturers and professionals in various areas. The trainings are carried out in Brussels and Strasbourg.
You can find more information here: http://www.acad-emi.org/index.php?id=10848
5. Ijnet.org Newsletter
The web site ijnet.org (International Journalist’s Network) is founded by the international NGO International Center for Journalists. Its goal is to give useful information for journalists – for the latest innovations in the media world, online journalist resources, and opportunities for trainings or expert advices. The list with current opportunities for journalists is published here: http://ijnet.org/opportunities, and you can subscribe for the ijnet.org’s newsletter and will not miss anything new.
6. Association of the European Journalists – Bulgaria Newsletter
If you wish to receive information for various new and current opportunities for journalists, who cover topics, related to EU, subscribe for our Newsletter at: http://www.aej-bulgaria.org/bul/subscribe.php.
If you have information for other current opportunities for journalists, who cover topics, related to EU (traineeships, trainings, competitions), send us a note at team@aej-bulgaria.org or darina.cherkezova@gmail.com, and we will add it to the list.
 

Grants and scholarships

Grants for journalists by Open Society Foundation
Open Society Foundation provides grants, by which it encourages democratic government, protection of human rights, economic, law and social reforms. The Foundation gives grants for media and journalists. You can find the current opportunities here: http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/grants
Grants and scholarships by German Marshall Fund
German Marshall Fund has several grant programs. The full list and detailed descriptions can be found here: http://www.gmfus.org/grants-fellowships/
Scholarships for journalists in Freie Universität Berlin
Every year between 10 and 15 journalists from Eastern and Western Europe, and USA as well, receive scholarships for two-semester studies in Berlin. The Scholarship programme is held in the International Journalist Centre in Freie Universität Berlin.
You can find more information here:
http://www.polsoz.fu-berlin.de/en/kommwiss/institut/journalistenkolleg/ejf/index.html

Contests and prizes

European Press Prize –
http://ec.europa.eu/health-eu/journalist_prize/2013/rules/index_en.htm
EU Health Prize for Journalists –
http://ec.europa.eu/health-eu/journalist_prize/2013/rules/index_en.htm
Evens Prize for European Journalism –
http://www.evensfoundation.be/en/prizes/european-journalism
 
Author: Darina Cherkezova