Smooth Operators: T-Mobile’s Macedonian Adventure

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The story of how a global telecoms giant got its foothold in a tiny Balkan country. A tale of mysterious contracts, destroyed documents, shady money transfers, massive corruption penalties – and, for your humble consumer, some eye-wateringly high phone bills.

And yet, despite the evidence unearthed by an investigation in the US, no action has been taken on the ground in Macedonia. Report by Goran Rizaov. My edit for BfJE/Balkan Insight. Featured at the top of The Wall Street Journal’s Corruption Currents.

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No Cure for Corruption

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Corruption breeds unchecked in Romania’s hospitals, where doctors are bribing each other for jobs. The cost, however, is being passed on to the patients. Report by Elena Stancu. My edit for BfJE/Balkan Insight and The Independent.

How to Get Ahead in Romanian Politics

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Romania’s EU-backed anti-corruption agency is a rare success story – upright and efficient. But the politicians it has targeted refuse to go away. They have been humiliated in courtrooms, only to be resurrected at the ballot box. Report by Vlad Odobescu. My edit for BfJE/Balkan Insight and New Statesman.

Another Ten Balkan Tales

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Here are all ten of the stories that I edited in 2013 for the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence. Our reporters honoured the annual theme of “integrity” by revealing its absence. So, we have some stories about corruption. We have some stories about migration. And we even have some stories about migration-because-of-corruption.

All very Balkan, you might say. But in fact, many of the problems our reporters uncovered can be traced to the heart of Western Europe, or to the unintended consequences of the EU’s policies in the east.

Other themes include the unsettled legacy of war – still very pertinent – and the troubling politicisation of civil society.

  • Macedonians used to pay some of the highest mobile phone bills in Europe – and not just because they like to talk. Goran Rizaov unravels the murky saga of a telecoms deal that has been ignored in his country, despite leading to a massive corruption settlement in the US.

European Press Prize 2012

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My work has made it into the final selection for the European Press Prize 2012. The selection was based on stories that I have edited for the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, as well as for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. The shortlist described the work as a “revelation”, praising the “excellent” way  in which strong on-the-ground reporting had been shaped for an international audience.

Other contenders for the prize’s Innovation Award include The Guardian’s Paul Lewis for his year-long research into the causes and consequences of the London riots, and Lukas Hassig of Inside Paradeplatz, a website that has investigated the practices of major Swiss banks.

Separately, an investigation that I edited about the racket in Romanian passports has also been shortlisted for the European Press Prize’s Reporting Award.