Independence is a central pillar of the Investigative Journalism for Europe (IJ4EU) fund. No donor to the fund is permitted to exert influence over the selection of grantees or their cross-border investigations.

That’s why independent juries award all grants under our two funding programmes, the Investigation Support Scheme and Freelancer Support Scheme. An independent jury also selects winners of the IJ4EU Impact Award.

Aside from jury chairs, the identities of jury members are kept secret until all projects or awards have been chosen for a given year.

Now that the IJ4EU fund has allocated its entire pot of €1.1 million for grants in 2021, along with €22,220 in awards, we are delighted to unveil the names of the jury members who worked so hard to maintain the integrity of the IJ4EU selection process.

We thank them for their dedication to investigative journalism of the highest quality.

Investigation Support Scheme 2021

Lydia Cacho Ribeiro

Lydia Cacho Ribeiro is a journalist, social activist and writer. She is a specialist in research on gender violence, health, childhood and organised crime. She is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Agency against Drugs and Crime.

For 25 years, she has worked as a journalist, editor and columnist in radio and television as well as in various national and international newspapers and magazines. She is co-founder of the Network of Journalists of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

She founded CIAM Cancún A.C, a care centre for women and children victims of violence, certified by the National Training Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence. She is an expert in child cybersecurity and in the pedagogy of interviewing victims under 18 years of age.

Cacho is also a renowned specialist in journalistic coverage in situations of risk and a survivor of police torture due to her professional work. Her brave journalistic investigations have taken her to 132 countries and made her the most awarded journalist in Mexico with 55 international awards.

Newsweek and The Daily Beast have named her one of the 100 women who move the world. Three of her best-selling works have become university textbooks in several Latin American countries. Her books have been translated into more than 15 languages.

Simon Robinson

Simon Robinson is Reuters Global Managing Editor for News Publishing, overseeing the agency’s digital offerings, its editing desk and graphics.

After joining the news service in 2010, Robinson ran investigations and enterprise reporting in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, editing award-winning series on Iran, Russia, corporate taxation, Greek banks and migration. He was the Regional Editor for EMEA before taking on responsibility for all recruitment, hiring, training, mentoring, career development and mental health efforts in the newsroom.

Between 1995 and 2010, Robinson was a correspondent and then editor at Time magazine, reporting from more than 50 countries in Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe. He has published short stories and wrote and produced an award-winning satirical movie about aid workers and journalists in Africa.

Leila Bičakčić

Leila Bičakčić is a founding member of the award-winning Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Specialising in reporting on corruption, the nexus between political elites and organised crime groups and monitoring the use of public funds and politicians’ assets, CIN stories have led to the indictment of a former prime minister, the dismissal of an international judge and final court verdicts in one of Bosnia’s biggest corruption cases.

CIN has won a number of national and international awards, including the Daniel Pearl Awards for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting and the Shining Star Award. Most recently, a CIN story on vote-buying was a finalist for the Investigative Reporting Award of the European Press Prize 2021.

Leila’s responsibilities include overall management of CIN, planning investigative projects, analysis and strategic development. A special focus of her work is research on new models of media sustainability in Bosnia, the transition from traditional media to new digital models and the convergence of media content. A Sarajevo native, she studied basic physics and economics at Sarajevo University.

Harry Karanikas

Harry Karanikas is an Athens-based investigative reporter in print and digital media and a producer of various investigative broadcasts on Greek TV.

His work has included investigations on the role of complex financial deals that were used to cover up Greece’s and other EU countries’ deficits and on the “Greek statistics” that signalled the beginning of the economic crisis. He has also investigated the pharmaceutical industry and the wiretapping of politicians’ phones, and various environmental issues such as the hexavalent chromium pollution of an area outside Athens.

Natalia Antelava

Natalia Antelava is a co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Coda Story, a digital newsroom created for context and continuity in coverage of crises.

An Emmy nominee and award-winning journalist, Natalia is originally from Tbilisi, Georgia but she started her career freelancing in West Africa. Since then, she had been BBC’s resident correspondent in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Middle East, Washington DC and India. She has covered the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, the war in Eastern Ukraine and reported undercover from Burma, Yemen and Uzbekistan.

Her investigations into human rights abuses in Central Asia, Iraq and the United States have won her a number of awards. In addition to a career in broadcast journalism, Natalia has also written for the Guardian, Forbes magazine and the New Yorker, among others.

Freelancer Support Scheme 2021

Cheryl W. Thompson

Cheryl W. Thompson is an investigative correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States and the senior editor for its member stations’ investigations.

Before joining NPR in 2019, she spent 22 years as an investigative and beat reporter with The Washington Post. Her work has prompted policy changes and state and federal investigations that resulted in the conviction of several elected and appointed officials.

She has won more than three dozen regional and national awards and was part of the Washington Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2002 and 2016. She served as the investigative reporting coach for the NPR podcast “No Compromise”, which won the Pulitzer Prize for audio reporting.

In 2018, she was elected the first Black president of Investigative Reporters and Editors, a 6,000-member organisation dedicated to improving investigative journalism. She served three terms in that role and was named board chairman in June 2021. Thompson also is an associate professor of journalism at George Washington University.

Jelena Cosic

Jelena Cosic is the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ training manager and Eastern European partnership coordinator. She worked on ICIJ’s Fincen Files, Luanda Leaks and China Cables.

Prior to joining ICIJ, she worked as a reporter, regional coordinator and project manager for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, a grouping of non-government organisations promoting freedom of speech, human rights and democratic values across southern and eastern Europe.

Her work also entailed the convening of international investigative teams; overseeing partnerships with other investigative centres; and helping to drive internal technological change.

She has received several investigative journalism awards, including a Certificate of Excellence, Global Shining Light Award; an EU Investigative Journalism Award in the Western Balkans and Turkey; and a Serbian Independent Association of Journalists Award for investigative journalism in online media. At ICIJ, she has been part of a team that has won the Tom Renner Award, been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and received a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.  

Jelena is an avid trail runner.

Eva Kubániová

Eva Kubániová works for, an independent investigative newsroom based in the Czech Republic.

She carried out journalistic research into Slovak businessman Marian Kočner and the events leading up to the 2018 murder of Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová. She has reported on the court trial of the suspects in that case. She won two Slovak journalistic awards for the timeline of the relationship between Kuciak and Kočner.

She also coordinates’s partnership project with investigative centres from Visegrad countries and has worked on cross-border stories concerning the International Investment Bank and misuse of public funds for advertising.

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