Next in Line is a journalism project bringing candidate and potential candidate countries for EU membership closer to audiences in Central Europe and other member states.

The 2011-2 project, which is co-funded by the European Union, is aimed at highlighting the potentials and challenges of current EU enlargement toward the Western Balkans, Turkey, and Iceland by involving some of Central Europe’s leading publications in reporting on a wide range of issues in candidate countries and potential candidates.

For this project, TOL has partnered with some of the best and most popular serious publications in the Visegrad countries: Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland), Respekt (the Czech Republic), Tyzden (Slovakia), as well as the Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ) in Budapest which will work with journalists from Hungary’s most important magazines and newspapers. Together, these publications and TOL reach hundreds of thousands of citizens in Central Europe and elsewhere.

Reporting assignments

Over the course of this 12-month project, each partner publication will make a number of reporting trips to candidate or potential candidate countries. On each of these assignments the reporters from Central Europe are paired up with a journalist from the “host” country with a view to collaborating on specific stories. In many cases, TOL’s local contributors will take part in these reporting assignments.

The resulting articles and multimedia productions, which will be published in English on this website and in Polish, Czech, Hungarian and Slovak in outlets operated by the project partners and their associates, are aimed at stimulating greater interest in these countries among key stakeholders and the wider public, ultimately leading to increased familiarity and interaction with people from the future members of the European Union.

Citizen journalism

The project also aims to promote citizen involvement in news generation and encourage closer links between the citizens of EU countries and those from candidate and potential candidate countries. Toward that end, we invite those EU citizens travelling to any of the candidate or potential candidate countries in 2012 to submit their contributions from the field. These contributions could be in English or any of the other four languages of this project and could come in any format (print articles or multimedia). The best citizen journalism submissions will be published on TOL and partner websites. Along with the technical quality of the submitted pieces, the guiding criteria for publishing the submitted content will be the level of the citizen journalist’s engagement with local issues and people as well as the quality of the resulting insights into the societies in question.

As an incentive, we offer prizes for the three best citizen contributions. The first prize will consist of a professional audio-visual kit. The second prize will be a camera and the third prize an audio recorder.

Briefing trips

After the publication of all planned articles and pieces of multimedia content, each partner publication will host one local journalist that helped produce this content.  These week-long stays will be “briefing trips,” during which the local journalists will visit the host country’s media outlets and foreign affairs think tanks, meeting with their staffs and explaining first-hand the challenges their countries face in becoming EU member states.

During this week, each partner publication will organize a panel discussion on a topic related to EU enlargement, with the journalists who took part in the reporting assignments—including the visiting journalists from candidate or potential candidate countries—taking part in the discussion. The aim of these gatherings will be to highlight enlargement issues as well as to offer more information on the published stories.