Brigitte Alfter received the Carsten Nielsen Prize from the chairman of the Danish Union of Journalists, Lars Werge. The prize consists of a small statue and an sum of money. Photo: Jonas Ahlstrøm

Sunday April 28 was our director Brigitte Alfter’s birthday. But that was not the only reason for her being happy. She had been told to go in secret to the congress of the Danish Union of Journalists to receive the prestigious Carsten Nielsen prize.

After the congress dinner, the union chairman, Lars Werge, went on stage to announce the surprise to the 400 delegates to the assembly. They welcomed Brigitte onto the stage with the birthday song.

Here is Lars Werge’s speech to Brigitte Alfter:

Dear Brigitte,
Congratulations on the award. And thank you for your contribution to the professional strengthening of Danish journalism and for your consistent work to promote journalistic cooperation.

You were nominated to receive the prize by a group of colleagues who among other things write:

“Brigitte Alfter is a freelancer, she is an award-winning cross-border and data journalist, and she is the epitome of collaboration and journalistic community.

She works in the area of European politics, which others may be reluctant to enter because it is such a complicated issue.

Brigitte has been central to many European journalists working together across borders today. For example, she has been:

  • Committed to SCOOP since 2005 – SCOOP supports, through the Danish Association for Investigative Journalism (FUJ), investigative journalists in Eastern Europe
  • co-founder of the annual European Conference on Data and Investigative Journalists – EIJC & Dataharvest. Brigitte developed it, and in eight years it has grown from 30 to 500 participants from about 50 countries
  • co-founder of, which provides funding for research for groups of investigative crossborder journalists. For this, in 2013 she got the Leipzig Prize for the Freedom and the Future of the Media
  • co-founder of Wobbing Europe, a network of journalists working for public access to EU and national administrations

This year’s Cavling prize (the annual Danish Press Prize) went to the money laundering case in Danske Bank – a work that would not be possible without collaborating across borders, the kind of collaboration that Brigitte is helping to develop.

That’s why we recommend that this year’s Carsten Nielsen scholarship goes to Brigitte Alfter.”

The award is named after Carsten Nielsen, who was the first chairman of the Danish Union of Journalists.

Christo Hird is a giant in rethinking journalism in society, and he is our keynote speaker for Saturday May 18th!

An investigative hack and filmmaker himself, he is deeply involved and was for a while the editor in chief of the London Bureau for Investigative Journalism.

Like so many other journalists, he wants to make the world a better place. Once upon a time, as a younger journalists, he believed that ”knowledge is power” and that the mere publication would indeed change things for the better. The world is different now. Networked societies, decline of sound models to pay for public interest journalism and other challenges loom.

But rather than mourn lost days, Hird uses his life time insights and experiences in journalism and filmmaking to ponder possible ways into a future, where journalism takes it place in today’s societies – in the public interest!

We focus on the journalism close to the audience’s concerns and how we can cooperate across borders to make an impact on national and European level.

By Jose Miguel Calatayud 

Political and economic crises are often accompanied by a crisis of trust in mainstream journalism. In the last couple of years vested political interests have systematically cast doubt on established media, which many disaffected citizens perceive as being out of touch with their day-to-day reality.

Have the media and we journalists contributed to this creditability crisis ourselves? Have the news media failed to see beyond those leaders shouting the loudest and focused on sensationalist stories that bring in more clicks. How can then journalism regain its audience’s trust?

In a way, the answer is quite simple. Journalists should aim to responsibly fulfil their most fundamental roles: engaging with citizens to hear about what affects them most in their everyday life, bringing the public interest into the political agenda, and facilitating public debate to hold those in power to account.

The journalists reporting on local issues are particularly well suited to carry out such tasks, as they are themselves part of the communities they are reporting about. They can engage with and listen to the people in their communities and then report on what’s affecting people’s lives.

However, what local journalism often lack is the capacity and critical mass to take those issues into the political agenda to reach those in the centres of power.

That is why this year’s EIJC & Dataharvest is having a Local track: to discuss how journalists covering local issues all over Europe can come together for their reporting to have greater visibility and impact – also at the EU level.

The Local track will also explore other questions regarding local journalism. What are the business models of new local media? How do their newsrooms function and how do they engage with their local communities? How are local journalists carrying out investigations? Is it possible to establish country-wide networks of many local investigative journalists? What tools and platforms are available for small newsrooms to crowdsource local data?

On top of that, the Local track will focus on the coverage of housing, a topic that has become highly relevant across different countries, cities and towns all over Europe.

In particular, and even though there are localised contextual differences, access to affordable and decent housing is becoming increasingly difficult for more and more people. The young can’t afford leaving their parents’ home, migrants are discriminated against in the housing markets, the number of homeless people is increasing, and many from the middle class can barely afford decent housing.

The Local track will showcase excellent local, data and investigative reporting about housing being done around Europe, and it will bring together editors, journalists, academic researchers and other experts to discuss how their work on housing may end up having a greater impact on the public debate.

Would you like to discuss this further or network with other reporters about local collaboration and housing? Join the discussion at (conference participants only) – people are discussing there already!