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RVI Fellows Recommend: Aleksandar Roknic

“That is why I recommend to the journalists to apply in the future RVI/BIRN competitions. Because apart from complete freedom to work on the story, they will have a very good “observation mission” to follow and give quality advice in accordance with all the best journalistic rules and practices.”

Working on a story for RVI/BIRN — ‘Deal with the Devil’: Austrian Serbs Embrace Anti-Migrant Right” was a unique and truly memorable experience.

Since I come from a daily newspaper, we rarely have the opportunity to work on one story for more than a week. And on this you can work several months.

When I applied for the RVI / BIRN competition, I wanted to do one story thoroughly and in details. That’s exactly what I got. From great lectures on how to write for BIRN, through the great practical guidance how exactly and on what must be focused when writing.

The way of BIRN way of writing was not unfamiliar to me, because I have written several articles for them throw the years. There was a new approach to the story and a really large number of interviews, but some of them were dropped in the final version of the article.


From the beginning, there was a lot of enthusiasm and desire to make a story, which was also seen from the editors. The possibility that the Serbian state officials were involved in the support of extreme right-wing party — FPO, on the Austrian elections through the instructions to the Serbian diaspora in Austria on how to vote for the far-right FPO party, needed to be scrutinized and proved.


Despite a lot of circumstantial information, a lot of interviews — official and unofficial, but unfortunately without some concrete evidence, we came to a wall. Then the editor skills come out. He suggested that we have to change the focus of the story and to put a light on a relation between the Serbian migrants in Austria and the far-right Freedom party of Austria — Hanz Christian Strafes, who was at that moment the Deputy Prime Minister of the Austrian Government.

They ended in the government thanks to many votes from the Serbian diaspora on the past elections. And it was hit in full because the story opened through the confession of a Serb, former FPO official — Luka Markov, who explained why he has been disappointed in the FPO policy towards Serbs in Austria.


What I’ve learned during the work on the research — how to deal with a huge amount of material and how to organize it on the right way, how to focus a story around just one fact.


Certainly, editor Met Robinson and his precise, substantive and journalistic advice have helped me a lot in this, and also his advises helped me a lot in shaping the story. Of course, formulating the topic was also helped by talking with other editors about the angle for the story.

And that is why I recommend to the journalists to apply in the future RVI/BIRN competitions. Because apart from complete freedom to work on the story, they will have a very good “observation mission” to follow and give quality advice in accordance with all the best journalistic rules and practices.

Second, working on a single story for months is an amazing and very exciting experience and I would really recommend it to any journalist/editor, regardless of age, because if you are a journalist, you have been a lifelong writer, regardless of all the difficulties. Most beautifully, a hunger for a strong news story will awaken.

Aleksandar Roknic

You can read RVI Fellow Aleksandar’s story about Austria’s far-right seeking support from country’s large Serbian diaspora here.

Aleksandar Roknic is a journalist at the Serbian daily “Danas”. He writes about law, culture, war crimes, politics and crime.

Roknic is also experienced in court reporting, including covering cases at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague as well as legal and sociological phenomenon and politics.

The Resonant Voices Initiative in the EU is funded by the European Union’s Internal Security Fund – Police.

The of this story is the sole responsibility of BIRN and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.