The memory of water | A cross-border journalism project for the Balkan rivers

Concept
Every river, every stream, is a small world. To be effective, its defenders must unite and coordinate, but also
be known and recognized in their country and in their community.
As journalists and science communicators, we are convinced that this can be done as a narration by building a cross-border, collaborative form of impact journalism.
Our project wants to develop the stories connected with river protection expanding in two directions: towards the international community of researchers, activists and informed people, and towards a local level, addressing to the local or regional communities that often are not fully aware of the river dynamics and the movements to save them.
To do so, our project will be based on two points. Building a network of contributors – journalists, but also scholars, researchers, or activists – preferably on the spot, that will collect the river stories and publish them for the local media and social networks. The other, parallel point is to build a website with a constantly updated geolocalized press-review, in English, that will contain the links to the stories and show them all together.

Contributors and stakeholders
The project is open to journalists and anyone who wants to contribute to the protection of rivers in the Balkan countries. Possible stakeholders are local communities, ngos, sustainable tourism companies, researchers. Media operators from the involved countries. Youtubers, bloggers and video-makers are also possible contributors.
Researchers in different fields can be particularly needed to gain a deeper understanding of the social, cultural and ecological implications of these topics.

Output
The stories can be in any form: article, interview, reportage, even video or podcast. Journalists on the spot, particularly, will have the task of tracking down local media that will be able to publish the included instances.
The site containing the map should be an independent site, anyway linked to the River Collective page. There will be a site, hosting a geo-localized press-review of journalistic stories linked to the protection of rivers, to be updated as soon as new stories are collected. The single stories, though, will be published in different media in different countries, preferring the ones using a Creative Common licence to make re-publication easier.

Timing
November-February: mapping the contributors, stakeholders and possible stories. First setting up of the site.
March-May: first stories published, arranging meetings and interviews.
May-June: Taking part to the Lim Regata in Montenegro event to present the project and gain materials for interviews, context in order to further expand the project.
June-August: time useful to physically travel and reach places with no contributors, develop longer reportages.
September: conclusion of the project. Possible presentation of the output in river protection events.

Financial commitment
While the site expenses and the possible translations need dedicated funding, the single stories should be
financed by the media that will publish them. The size and the speed at which the project will be developed
can thus change according to the available funding, starting from a relatively low base.

Marco Ranocchiari

Freelance journalist and scientific communicator, I regularly collaborate with the Italian think tank Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT) for which I cover environmental themes in the Balkan countries. I have written for different media including La Stampa, Trentino, Q Code Magazine, European Data Journalism Network, Climate Tracker, and for the cultural travel book “Scoprire i Balcani” (Cierre, 2019). I have been following the river protection movements in the Balkans since 2018.

A geologist by background, I try to keep together scientific accuracy with narrative journalism and story-telling. I am member and contributor to the organization Water Grabbing Observatory, for behalf of which I wrote this proposal.

Since I first met the River Collective in 2018, when it was still called ‘River Intellectuals’, I have appreciated its interdisciplinary character and creativity. I completely share this kind of approach and I believe action based on culture can have a deep, lasting impact.