European Journalism in the Digital Age: A Legal and Practical Boot Camp for Journalists, Activists and Lawyers

Journalism is under pressure. So, democracy itself is too. Coincidence? We don’t think so. Just as independent journalism and democracy are inextricably interwoven, like the threads of a flag, so do the rise of illiberalism and the collapse of journalism follow, one after the other.

It is time to start rebuilding, first one, then the other.

European Journalism in the Digital Age (EJDA) is a unique training program designed to give journalists, activists and everyone involved in the field of publishing in the public interest the tools they need to understand the myriad challenges arising from the digital revolution and from illiberal rollbacks.

The Center for Media, Data, and Society at the Central European University, in Budapest, is announcing an open call for candidates for this certificate-based legal training program for journalists, civil society advocates and media lawyers in Central and Southeastern Europe. The EJDA is a unique ‘hybrid’-style online and offline course that focuses on providing participants with the fundamentals of media and freedom of expression law in the digital age and practical solutions for combatting threats from litigants, hackers, and hostile governments. The course features an intensive two-day workshop in Perast, Montenegro, on the weekend of May 25-27, 2018, followed by nine weeks of top-level online instruction.

The program is highly selective.  We are looking for the region’s most highly skilled and committed practitioners, regardless of age or experience.  The program, which seeks to create an elite network of journalists, activists, and lawyers, covers all expenses, including tuition and travel.

  • codes of ethics and professional standards for public watchdogs; 

  • access to information in possession of public bodies;
  • defamation and libel; 

  • privacy; 

  • source protection and working with whistleblowers; 

  • working with documents that are leaked, classified, illegally obtained; 

  • personal and digital security. 

Tuition for the 10-week course is free. All expenses will be paid by the program.

The program features an all-star team of instructors, including Gillian Phillips, the top in-house lawyer for The Guardian, Nani Jansen Reventlow, a noted human rights and freedom of expression scholar and advocate on the international scene, Djordje Krivokapic, Legal and Policy Director of SHARE Foundation and lecturer at the Faculty of Organizational Sciences, Belgrade and Dean Starkman, a Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter and noted media critic. The course is funded by the Open Society Foundations and is supported by SHARE Foundation, Serbia.

Successful participants will receive a professional certificate from the CEU School of Public Policy, signed by the Dean and verifiable for employers.

We think of this course as some of a first aid kit and survival guide for European journalists and others in the digital age to protect themselves from legal, regulatory, digital and physical threats, and to head off trouble before it starts.

But it’s something else, too. EJDA also seeks to forge lasting bonds between our participants and staff to create a network of committed journalists, advocates and lawyers to help defend journalism, media independence and democracy generally. Application deadline: March 5, 2018, at 17.00 (5pm) Central European Time

Admission for this course is now closed.


Having had the privilege to participate in the very first edition of European Journalism in the Digital Age, I strongly encourage aspiring journalists and human rights activists from across Europe to give this course a try. The program offers an effective mix of offline and online training that allows participants to learn at their own pace depending on their studies and/or work schedules while also having the opportunity to meet their peers and instructors in person in Belgrade. Although Central and Eastern European countries face similar problems such as corruption, organized crime, dysfunctional judicial and educational systems, infrastructure deficiencies, media with limited resources working under conditions of strong political and corporate dependencies, and violations of human rights, they still differ in what they make of these challenges and how they approach them. By coming together, the participants in European Journalism in the Digital Age can share their thoughts and experience, national as well as international, and at the same time improve their theoretical and legal grasp of these issues, thus bridging the practical and theoretical dimensions of journalism and media. The course curriculum is relevant and well-structured but what makes the program still better and more enjoyable is the fabulous selection of instructors - journalists, academics, and legal experts who are not only good at what they do but are also more than humble and willing to share their knowledge with young people. The offline component in Belgrade may be relatively short, but it is certainly the best part of the course because it allows participants and instructors to improve their understanding of journalism in the digital age through formal lectures and exercises, as well as informally through social activities. Finally, like any good training program, participants and instructors are committed to staying in touch after the end of the course which paves the way not only for potential journalistic and media partnerships, but also lasting friendships. Daniel Penev, former participant and freelance journalist and translator