Una Hajdari

2018 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow

Una is a freelance print and TV journalist from Prishtina, Kosovo who covers politics, minorities, nationalism, inter-ethnic tensions, right-wing groups and hate speech in the Western Balkans. She began her journalism career in post-conflict Kosovo, focusing on the lingering tensions between the Serbian and Albanian communities in her country. Most of her reporting over the years has been for English-language print outlets, both those based in Kosovo and in the region as well as international ones. She was Managing Editor of Kosovo 2.0, a trilingual outlet based in Prishtina, a correspondent for Balkan Insight and a contributor for AFP. In 2014 she was part of a journalism exchange program for Eastern European journalists based in Berlin, where she worked for Die Tageszeitung and Berliner Morgenpost. Since then she has expanded her coverage to German-language outlets, including ARTE, Der Tagesspiegel, TagesWoche, among others. While her main focus is on print journalism, she has worked as a TV reporter for N1, the regional CNN affiliate in the Balkans and as a contributor for Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF), the Swiss national broadcaster. She has won awards for her investigative journalism, particularly on the issue of the education of minority groups (Association of Kosovo Journalists, 2014) and on war criminals who have maintained a hold on power in post-war Kosovo (Medienpreis Aargau/Solothurn, Switzerland with colleague Fiona Endres, 2018). She and a team of journalists were recipients of the Reporters in the Field journalism grant in 2017, issued by N-ost and the Robert Bosch Foundation. The research focused on investigating the way right-wing groups influenced the political scene and the wider population in the Western Balkan region. This has become a long-term focus of hers, particularly having in mind the wider European and global trends. Una was drawn to applying for the fellowship after coming across Elizabeth Neuffer's articles detailing the breakup of Yugoslavia and conflict in Bosnia and Kosovo. "I've lived in both of those countries and have covered all the former Yugoslav republics over the years, and the fact that the phenomena Elizabeth Neuffer described in the early 90s - the prejudices, the social anxiety over the dominance of one ethnic group over another as well as the nationalism - are still very much present nowadays, is troubling." "I hope to be able to use my time as the Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow to highlight the issues that affect the everyday lives of people in the Balkans and in Eastern Europe. Oftentimes, outlets focus on the "big geopolitical narratives"; West vs East, the US vs Russia and neglect the stories that don't necessarily fit into this polarized perspective." "These countries also struggle with the need for health reform, education reform, a sluggish legal system, unemployment and low wages. My experience has shown that there is a way to tell the "big stories" and include the plight of ordinary people, it's just that that requires more time and a better understanding of the region."