Inspired by The Guardian: Bulgarian journalists ready to work in collective social interest

Two days, twelve journalists, 20 topics. Such is the reckoning of the workshop on quality journalism in the public benefit held on April 27 - 28, 2012 at the Department of Radio and Television of Journalism Faculty at the Sofia University. The workshop was held by Paul Brown, the former environment correspondent on the The Guardian, UK, and Pvel Antonov, editor of Green Horizon in Budapest and's co-founder, lead the workshop.

Workshop participants discussed the situation of today's Bulgarian journalism and the forms of economic pressure on it. As fellow-journalists, participants exchanged experiences in the practical techniques and methods for achieving quality journalistic product and positive public result when covering issues of collective social interest. They communicated their views and ideas for the improvement of Bulgaria's journalistic field. "For us as journalists, it is vital to maintain the confidence of our readers in the accuracy and quality of our work," said Paul Brown. A reputation of honesty and professionalism in the profession takes a life time to build, and a moment of professional compromise to waste, said the prominent British journalist. "Bulgarians deserve quality journalism, to be more active and proactive in imposing public control over the institutions and their actions that shape f the social and natural environment", commented Pavel Antonov.

At the end of the meeting, participants planned future actions, and shaped a "Guardian Circle" of journalists pursuing collective social interest. Over 20 specific story ideas for investigative features were listed, and steps to develop them were discussed. Journalists chose to work on subjects that reveal the deficit of effective access and participation of citizens in the environmental and social assessment of various business projects. Specific cases of good and poor management of forests and natural resources, as well as other topics relating to the rights of a clean and healthy environment were discussed. "I feel inspired and enthusiastic by the meeting, thanks for it and let's start to work," commented one of the workshop participants, Jasmina Gevezieva, a journalism student and intern at the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency.

Participants and interested journalists will have the possibility to implement the experience and knowledge gained and develop their own original stories and investigations on the discussed problems. These will be published on a designated by, as part of a micro project funded by the Open Society Institute  in Sofia. Support for the implementation of the workshop and related activities has been offered also by:  the Radio and Television Department of the Faculty of journalism and mass communication at the Sofia University; The British Council in Bulgaria; The Guardian Foundation  in London; the  "Bring Back the Ban" project funded by Bloomberg's Philanthropies, USA; and the "Eco Mreja" project funded by the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt . The workshop participants were also involved in an evening discussion on a cup of English tea  on the topic "Changing climate, nature and laws: how to prevent economic pressure on journalism?" hosted by the British Council in Sofia.