Bulgarian Mainstream Journalist Awarded for Reports Plagiarized from Bivol

Journalist Teodora Trifonova of Bulgarian TV channel bTV was awarded a prize by the “Radostina Konstantinova” Foundation for the series “Houses without Guests”, which, without exaggeration, was stolen from Bivol’s investigations into guesthouses built with European Union (EU) money. There is no reference whatsoever to the original source of Trifonova’s broadcasts but she uses key findings and facts from our investigations.

Last year, bTV regularly broadcast reports on topics investigated by Bivol without once referring to our revelations related to the ApartmentGate and Guest Houses scandals. Below is a list of plagiarized investigations, listed by Bivol’s headline, Bivol’s date of publication, link to Bivol’s article, bTV’s headline, bTV’s date of publication, link to bTV’s article:

Bivol: BULGARIAN RULING PARTY TOP FUNCTIONARIES ACQUIRE POSH BUT CHEAP APARTMENTS IN SOFIA, March 3, 2019, https://bivol.bg/en/bulgarian-ruling-party-top-functionaries-acquire-posh-but-cheap-apartments-in-sofia.html?doing_wp_cron=1590335718.2105538845062255859375, bTV: Tsetska Tsacheva: Price of apartment in Arteks building is not four times lower than off-plan market price, March 3, 2019, https://www.btv.bg/video/shows/lice-v-lice/videos/cecka-cacheva-cenata-na-apartamenta-v-sgradata-na-arteks-ne-e-chetiri-pati-po-niska-ot-pazarnata-na-grub-stroezh.html

Bivol: APARTMENTGATE: MORE SENIOR OFFICIALS WITH UPSCALE BUT CHEAP APARTMENTS, March 25, 2019, https://bivol.bg/en/apratmentgate-more-senior-officials-with-upscale-but-cheap-apartments.html, bTV: Another politician in power with apartment from Arteks, March 25, 2019, https://btvnovinite.bg/bulgaria/oshte-edin-politik-ot-vlastta-s-apartament-ot-arteks-obzor.html

Bivol: BULGARIA’S ANTI-CORRUPTION BOSS’ TAX DECLARATION REEKS OF DOCUMENT FRAUD, March 27, 2019, https://bivol.bg/en/bulgarias-anti-corruption-boss-tax-declaration-reeks-of-document-fraud.html, bTV: KPKONPI boss also mortgaged the terrace he claims he does not own, April 1, 2019, https://btvnovinite.bg/bulgaria/shefat-na-kpkonpi-ipotekiral-i-terasata-kojato-tvardi-che-ne-pritezhava.html

Bivol: APARTMENTGATE SPREADS TO BULGARIAN JUDICIARY, March 28, 2019, https://bivol.bg/en/apartmentgate-spreads-to-bulgarian-judiciary.html, bTV: Borislav Sarafov also on leave because of cheap properties, April 5, 2019, https://btvnovinite.bg/bulgaria/borislav-sarafov-sashto-izliza-v-otpusk-zaradi-evtinite-imoti.html
Bivol: DEPUTY OF BULGARIA’S ANTI-CORRUPTION BOSS ALSO FAILS TO DECLARE FULL PRICE OF APARTMENT AND TERRACE, April 3, 2019, https://bivol.bg/en/deputy-of-bulgarias-anti-corruption-boss-also-fails-to-declare-full-price-of-apartment-and-terrace.html, bTV: “Apartmentgate”: one more terrace, this time of the vice-president of KPKONPI, April 5, 2019, https://btvnovinite.bg/bulgaria/politika/apartament-gejt-oshte-edna-terasa-na-zam-predsedatelja-na-kpkonpi.html

Bivol: BULGARIAN LAWMAKER’S ‘DREAM TEAM’ ALSO IN APARTMENTGATE WITH RECORD CHEAP APARTMENTS, April 6, 2019, https://bivol.bg/en/bulgarian-lawmakers-dream-team-also-in-apartmentgate-with-record-cheap-apartments.html, bTV: Delyan Dobrev: I am leaving because I am tired of defending myself from speculation, April 10, 2019, https://btvnovinite.bg/predavania/tazi-sutrin/deljan-dobrev-tragvam-si-zashtoto-se-umorih-da-zashtitavam-imeto-si-ot-vsjakakvi-spekulacii.html

Bivol: BULGARIAN DEPUTY MINISTER USES ‘GUEST HOUSE’ BUILT WITH EU MONEY AS OWN VACATION HOME, April 12, 2019, https://bivol.bg/en/bulgarian-deputy-minister-uses-guest-house-built-with-eu-money-as-own-vacation-home.html, bTV: Property on target: Was deputy minister’s villa built with European money, April 17, 2019, https://btvnovinite.bg/bulgaria/imot-na-pricel-stroena-li-e-s-evropari-vila-na-zam-ministar.html

Bivol: BULGARIAN DEPUTY PM WITH PENTHOUSE FOR EUR 400 PER SQM AND UNDECLARED TERRACE, April 20, 2019, https://bivol.bg/en/bulgarian-deputy-pm-with-penthouse-for-eur-400-per-sqm-and-undeclared-terrace.html, Terraces of power: How big is Karakachanov’s property?, April 23, 2019, https://btvnovinite.bg/predavania/tazi-sutrin/terasite-na-vlastta-kolko-e-goljam-imotat-na-karakachanov.html

Bivol: FIVE TALES OF GUESTHOUSES FINANCED BY EU, April 30, 2019, https://bivol.bg/en/five-tales-of-guesthouses-financed-by-eu.html, bTV: Entangled in scandal with European houses: Executive of State Fund Agriculture reinstated to post, May 2, 2019, https://btvnovinite.bg/bulgaria/zamesen-v-skandal-s-evrokashti-rakovoden-kadar-na-df-zemedelie-e-vazstanoven-na-rabota.html

Bivol: BULGARIAN AGRIMIN CONCEALS SPOUSE’S PROPERTY DEALS FROM CORRUPTION WATCHDOG, May 9, 2019, https://bivol.bg/en/bulgarian-agrimin-conceals-spouses-property-deals-from-corruption-watchdog.html, bTV: Porozhanov files request with KPKONPI to publish his entire declaration, May 11, 2019, https://btvnovinite.bg/bulgaria/porozhanov-depozira-molba-do.html

Bivol: 5 GUESTHOUSES BELONG TO RELATIVES OF BULGARIAN PARTY LEADER, May 11, 2019, https://bivol.bg/en/5-guesthouses-belong-to-relatives-of-bulgarian-party-leader.html, bTV: Family of Mustafa Karaday’s brother-in-law has a guest house financed with European money May 14, 2019, https://btvnovinite.bg/bulgaria/i-semejstvoto-na-shureja-na-mustafa-karadaja-ima-kashta-za-gosti-po-evroproekt.html, Houses with European money: bTV team enters property of relative of Mustafa Karaday, May 14, 2019, https://btvnovinite.bg/predavania/tazi-sutrin/kashtite-s-evropejski-pari-ekip-na-btv-vleze-v-imot-na-rodnina-na-mustafa-karadaja.html

Bivol: FATHER OF SENIOR AGRICULTURE FUND EMPLOYEE BUYS LUXURY APARTMENT WITH MONEY OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN, May 7, 2019, https://bivol.bg/en/father-of-senior-agriculture-fund-employee-buys-luxury-apartment-with-money-of-unknown-origin.html, bTV: bTV Reporters: Houses without guests, part 2, June 10, 2019, https://btvnovinite.bg/predavania/btv-reporterite/btv-reporterite-kashti-bez-gosti-vtora-chast.html

Bivol was named the recipient of the “Radostina Konstantinova” Foundation award by the jury in 2016 for its investigations into the Bulgartabac “mafia” and its connections with the controversial lawmaker and media tycoon Delyan Peevski. Under pressure from the members of the 2016-jury in the end the Foundation refused to present the award to Bivol. This precedent provoked reactions by Bulgarian and international journalistic organizations. Reporters Without Borders even described the award withdrawal as a “hostile move“.

The following year, Dimitar Stoyanov of Bivol was awarded an incentive prize by the same Foundation, which he refused to accept.

“My humble desire is to clarify the standards for bestowing awards. In 2017, being an author of Bivol is no longer an obstacle to receiving an award from the “Radostina Konstantinova” Foundation? If so, why is the Foundation keeping silent about the 2016 award? Such “flexibility” in evaluation criteria may be acceptable in judiciary and public administration procedures but we are journalists. I cannot accept such an award, even an incentive one until the ugly precedent of last year is clarified. Otherwise, I would simply legitimize the #WHO model in journalism,” Dimitar wrote then.

The awarding of the prize for investigations stolen from Bivol is a new link in this spiral of cynicism and an example of the tainted Bulgarian media environment.

In this year’s edition of the “Radostina Konstantinova” awards, Genka Shikerova won the grand prize for her investigation “War for Corpses“, which her then-employer Nova TV refused to broadcast, and she even lost her job. Nikolay Staykov from the Anti-Corruption Fund received an award as well. He has also published investigations based on Bivol’s findings without citing the original source. The latest is about #DateGate.

The Chairperson of the jury for this year’s awards was Lyuba Rizova. The jury also included journalists Svetla Petrova, Stoyko Tonev, Valeriy Todorov, Kadrinka Kadrinova, Dobrina Cheshmedzhieva, Mihail Veshim, Ivan Bakalov and prof. Milko Petrov.

It is worth noting that bTV is a leading TV station with a multimillion-dollar budget while the Anti-Corruption Fund is generously funded by America for Bulgaria Foundation. Bivol, on the other hand, is funded by donations from readers and has an incomparably smaller resource than the above-mentioned media. Yet, we strictly adhere to ethical standards and always cite other media if they are the primary source of information in our articles.

Headline photo: Teodora Trifonova, bTV

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