Through my work at the Center for Investigative Reporting in Serbia as director, editor, and journalist, I worked on a number of data/investigative stories and projects including government accountability, political corruption, and campaign financing. I covered the tobacco and drug smuggling industry, a background of the assassination of the first democratically elected prime minister of Serbia Zoran Djindjic, media control, whistleblowers protection, wastewater water pollution, Belgrade market abuses, etc. Some examples include abuses in the privatization process in Serbia, involving the then-prime minister of Serbia Mirko Cvetkovic and his hidden management consulting business. This project resulted in a later government shake-up, and investigation of a leading management consulting and a financial advisory firm linked to Cvetkovic.
In 2009, we created a comprehensive database of budget and procurement data for 30 local governments in Serbia, using sunshine laws, calling it the Investigating Local Governments project. We produced more than 150 articles and our analysis unraveled wrongdoings and corruption, solely based on comparing figures. This series got featured in the Data Journalism Handbook, a leading resource on the subject.
In 2008, property records in Serbia were not accessible, but we received a tip about an oligarch who was securing major commercial spaces in downtown Belgrade through dubious transactions. I sent reporters out and asked them to check each property on the main streets, note company signs, examine business permits, and interview salespeople. We ended up creating an inventory – an alternative property database from which we produced a number of stories based on the data. The original tip turned out to be half-true, but it led us to a wider investigation of the construction sector.