Stefan Candea

Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism, Co-Founder

Stefan CANDEA, Co-Founder, Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism. Candea is a member of the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists and has won several awards including the IRE Tom Renner Award and the Overseas Press Club of America Award for online journalism. He teaches investigative journalism at Bucharest University and was the 2011 Carroll Binder Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Stefan is a freelance journalist and co-founder of the Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism in Bucharest, Romania. He's written about the connections between international organized crime networks and high-ranking politicians, as well as international arms trade and illegal international adoptions.

Stefan worked for the first investigative TV show in Romania, Reporteri Incognito. He's also worked for Deutsche Welle and in print, radio, TV and online. He's done freelance research and production work for several foreign media outlets, including the BBC, Channel 4, ITN, ZDF and Canal Plus. Since March 2001, he has been a correspondent for Reporters sans Frontieres in Romania.

In 2011 Stefan started the Sponge (, a collaborative media innovation lab and currently is working on turning a reporting blog about the Black Sea ( into an online in-depth magazine for the region.
Further Information

Talk Title: 
Sponge, a collaborative media innovation lab for Eastern Europe
Talk Abstract: 

Problem & solution: a year ago I initiated Sponge, a media innovation lab for eastern Europe located in Bucharest and online. It should become the missing R&D for journalism. But it turned into a collaborative experimentation Lab between independent groups and communities of investigative journalists, coders, designers, activists and legal experts, involving also local universities and students. We are building a hub for innovation occurring at the nexus of transparency and accountability, technology and media. We create an ecosystem fostering relevant and verifiable information and open data.

Study case: with a 3 thousand USD grant from Mozilla Foundation we organized last October the Open Media Challenge in Bucharest, 3 months long contest on open data and collaboration. Using an open process, we had 20 proposals from Bielarus, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Romania. Out of that, during a weekend hackathon, 10 were developed and 8 delivered a working app or tool (see As one member of the jury said, “the Open Media Challenge is a posterbook example how to do a hackathon: good organization, highly motivated participants and awesome ideas/projects that actually delivered”.

Strategy: based on an experimental approach (trial and error) we are turning Sponge into a replicable model for smaller or larger interdisciplinary communities working on open data. Our test bed is the post-communist space, with similar background and so many real world problems that can be solved in a collaborative way also using technology. Our strong points are huge IT and activism knowledge, as well as expertise on journalism and opening data and information; our test bed is great also because of so many differences in language, technical and media literacy, religion and types of government.

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