The Press Start Network

Find and connect with journalists working on Press Start campaigns

Author: Press Start

Atanas Tchobanov

For the last 14 years since its accession to the European Union in 2007, Bulgaria has remained at the bottom of indexes evaluating the level of perceived corruption and media freedom in EU member states. The decline of investigative journalism in the mainstream media is a direct consequence of the influence of powerful oligarchs linked to the government, who became media owners. I started contributing as an investigative journalist 10 years ago for a new online project, wanting to keep alive the flame of serious investigative reporting in my country.

Reporting focus

cross-border investigations and organized crimeShow more

Previous publications

Current positions

  • Editor BIRD.BG and Member of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)
  • Spokesman of the team managing the platform for anonymous sharing of documents

Media outlets I’ve been writing for

  • Bureau for Investigative Reporting and Data (
  • Organised Crime and Corruption Project (
  • Bivol (


  • Sigma Award 2020 for data journalism as part of the team investigating “The Troika Laundromat”
  • Global Shining Light Award Certificate of Excellence in Journalism 2019 for the investigation “The Azerbaijani Laundromat”
  • Global Shining Light Award Certificate of Excellence in Journalism 2017 for the investigation “Making a Killing;”
  • Serbian National Award for Investigative Reporting, 2015 and 2016

Roxana Garaiman

Roxana grew up along with the free media in Romania and she has always known that this was her path. In the past 10 years she has worked on multiple beats and at different types of national media. Her expertise has enabled her to find a common thread in the complex area of investigative journalism, where she discovers hidden connections between public officials, politicians, and criminal gangs.

Reporting focus

cross-border investigations and organized crime

Previous publications

  • “Policeman Nelu Lupu, the Guardian Angel of the Underworld.” Commissioner Nelu Lupu, now being investigated for violations of COVID-19 health and safety measures, offered protection to the most violent mobsters in Bucharest, Romania’s capital. “Stipendiary Scientists.” How The Romanian Academy of Scientists was founded by changing the name of an NGO – the Romanian Association of Scientists. It has 250 full-time members, all paid for life from the state budget. If they die, their descendants benefit from a non-taxable monthly amount.
  • “When the mafia speaks.” An internal recording shows how the underworld uses the largest party in Romania as the central command for real estate deals worth millions of euros.

Current position

  • Reporter RISE Project Romania (

Media outlets I’ve been writing for

  • RISE Project Romania (
  •, Romanian online news and features magazine
  •, Romanian national daily newspaper


Investigation of the year at Superscrieri Awards 2016 for the article “Stipendiary Scientists.”

Mihai Munteanu

Mihai was 24 years old when he became a journalist – four years before Romania joined the EU. There were times when corruption was flourishing and Romanian citizens saw the injustice but felt powerless. A fresh graduate of journalism school, he had a keen eye for wrongdoing and a passion for exposing it. In just three years, he became chief of the investigations department of one of the most important newspapers of that period. Since 2012 he has been editor at the RISE Project Romania.

Reporting focus

cross-border investigations and organized crime

Previous publications

  • “Magnitsky Stories.” This investigation exposed the transnational money laundering trail from the $230 million theft uncovered by the Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky (killed in prison)
  • “Killers Inc.,” a two-year, multi-country investigation examining a violent feud between businessmen connected to the Kremlin, and the criminal groups and assassins-for-hire tasked with settling their scores.
  • “Black Market Arms” for the War in Ukraine. The story of how reporters from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) bought arms from one of the most powerful criminal groups in Moldova. Current position
  • Editor RISE Project Romania

Media outlets I’ve been writing for

  • RISE Project Romania (
  • RISE Project Moldova (
  • Organised Crime and Corruption Project (


  • Daniel Pearl Award 2011 for the investigation “Offshore Crime, Inc.”
  • European Press Prize 2015, for the investigation “The Russian Laundromat”
  • The Sergei Magnitsky Human Right Award 2015, for the investigation “The Magnitsky Stories”
  • Editor of the year at Superscrieri Awards 2017, for the series of investigations about Liviu Dragnea, the president of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD)

Campaign on Press Start:

The Soviet Cocaine Union

Award-winning journalists from Romania and Bulgaria present the dynamics of two international drug trafficking networks in the post-Soviet space, how these networks join forces to supply South American cocaine to the European market, and how they corrupt local authorities. Our team corroborated information hidden in thousands of pages of archives from official cross-border investigations, which were classified and suddenly buried, without explanation. Welcome to the White Wild East.

Lili Rutai

I am a freelance Hungarian journalist, and my goal is to shine a light on social inequalities in the country, with a pinch of feminism. 

At the age of 10 I was writing, editing, illustrating, printing and selling a school newspaper. When I was 16 years old, I started my internship at a fashion newspaper during the summer holiday. After graduating, I started a media and communication course at ELTE in Budapest, one of the best universities in Hungary. 

While studying journalism, I interned at various media outlets. I wrote many articles about fashion, tourism, Budapest, some of them in English. I spent one semester in the UK as an Erasmus student to make my writing in English better. 

In my second year, my interest became clear: I wanted to become a journalist, but instead of fashion I was pretty sure I wanted to cover social injustice, feminism, poverty, and other social issues. One serious issue affecting thousands of Hungarian women is period poverty.

At the age of 21, my feature article on a rehab for teenage boys ran in one of the most prestigious literary and political papers in the country, Élet és Irodalom. 

At the age of 22, I started my feminist blog, and I was asked to write for an independent online newspaper’s blog about women and feminism. I still publish on that site, Átlátszó.hu.

As a freelancer, and as a young woman, I find it challenging to be considered serious. I think that this is one of the reasons I started calling myself a feminist, and this is why I started talking and writing about matters affecting women. 

In the past few months I graduated and began a master’s program in sociology, received stipends to go to Morocco and Italy to write about poverty and migration, and started my feminist podcast. I worked undercover on a project I cannot name yet, and I had more stories published by Hungarian news outlets.  

I believe that I am really lucky: I have had the chance to go to school and later to university, my family supported me so I could do free internships, and as a result, I am making a living from what I love: writing. I have traveled to many places and learned foreign languages.

I think my responsibility is to help those who are not so lucky, especially young girls and women. I believe journalism is a great way to do that: I can call attention to serious difficulties that are not addressed enough. Period poverty, for example. 

Many NGOs, schools and other establishments that work with children and young adults in Hungary have confirmed my suspicion: many young women face period poverty every day. The few campaigns to distribute female hygiene products have been very popular, but none lasted longer than a year. One campaign organizer told me their initiative simply couldn’t deliver needed products to all the girls and women in need.

There is an easy way for the state to ease the burden of period poverty: by cutting the tampon tax, so that female hygiene products benefit from the same lower rates as other basic needs. But the Hungarian government just decided against cutting the tampon tax, although at 27 % the tax is exorbitant, compared to other European countries. 

The Hungarian media is not in the best position to cover this issue: I know newspapers that are interested in publishing these articles, but I cannot get funding for my projects. Most newspapers are government-owned and would not cover topics like this, and the independent ones that I work for don’t have enough money. Still, I believe that this idea is worth it, and I hope that crowdfunding will be the solution. 

Campaigns on Press Start:

Period poverty: Hungary’s silent scourge 

Is period poverty becoming extinct? Many EU countries have slashed the “tampon tax” and the UK is moving toward abolishing it completely, like at least 20 U.S. states. Not so in Hungary, where women and girls live with the highest tax on female hygiene products in the EU. The major media – beholden to the nationalist government – ignore the issue. So one young Hungarian journalist and feminist decided to investigate the problem herself. Press Start will match all contributions made to her campaign, so your dollars will go twice as far.

Agnieszka Wądołowska

Agnieszka always wanted to write inspirational, gripping stories. She became a journalist to give voice to those who dare to follow their own path and pave the way for others as well as those who require help and support, but are institutionally neglected.

Aga is a print and online journalist who is managing editor at Notes from Poland, an independent news outlet published in English.

She believes it’s an important time to understand Poland – a one-time paragon of successful democratic transformation following the fall of communism – as it is becoming increasingly illiberal with its judiciary independence compromised and civil liberties threatened.

For years, Aga worked for the Polish mainstream media covering women’s rights issues including abortion tourism, feminist activism, and domestic violence. Most recently she has been covering mass protests around Poland sparked by the constitutional court’s ruling that introduces a near total ban on abortion.

Reporting focus

social injustice and women’s rights issues ranging from abortion tourism and feminist activism to domestic violence

Previous publications

Current position

Media outlets she has been writing for

Press Start Campaigns

Agnieszka Wądołowska, Kinga Rajzak

Poland and Hungary Turn Blind Eye to Rampant Domestic Abuse

The chaos unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic has emboldened Poland and Hungary – two of the most patriarchal and conservative countries in the European Union – to brazenly snub nationally and internationally ratified women’s rights conventions and initiatives that provide protection against domestic abuse.

Kinga Rajzak



Kinga got into journalism by chance, and immediately knew she had found her calling. She is inspired by the noble mission of journalism to uncover the truth and tell pressing stories.

Today, Kinga is a multimedia journalist who has reported on art and culture for various magazines and shot breaking news packages covering politics, policy, and various social causes. She assisted CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on his renowned show, GPS, and aided the channel’s flagship business show Quest Means Business, anchored by Richard Quest.

Kinga has freelanced for Pulitzer Prize-awarded journalist Sara Ganim on multiple projects, among them the documentary No Defense. She also worked as an editor on the short documentary I Hope You Are Doing Well that showcases parallel experiences of the pandemic around the globe recorded and narrated by the film’s protagonists.

Kinga is most thrilled to undertake long investigative challenges that focus on real human stories and have the potential to have a lasting impact.

Currently, Kinga is freelancing for multiple outlets. She lives between New York and Budapest.

Reporting focus

women’s rights, sustainability, repurposing food waste, LGBTQ laws

Click here to see Agnieszka Wądołowska, Kinga Rajzak ‘s reporting proposal.

Press Start campaigns:

Poland and Hungary Turn Blind Eye to Rampant Domestic Abuse

The chaos unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic has emboldened Poland and Hungary – two of the most patriarchal and conservative countries in the European Union – to brazenly snub nationally and internationally ratified women’s rights conventions and initiatives that provide protection against domestic abuse.

Ivan Radev

I became a journalist because I wanted to check the facts by myself. It is a good career choice for a curious person, with diverse areas of interest.

Reporting focus

Media and political analysis

Previous publications

Current position

  • Board Member of Association of European Journalists Bulgaria

Media outlets he has been writing for

  • Freelance

Bianca Albu

At the beginning, a frustration over corruption pushed me to become a journalist. It felt like that was the only way to fight injustice. It did not take me long to change my mind. Now it is not about corruption – it is only about shedding light on the truth.

Reporting focus

Investigative journalist focused on corruption, public acquisitions, and healthShow more

Previous publications

Current position

  • Junior Reporter

Media outlets where her work has recently appeared


Oana Despa

I didn’t set out to become a journalist. I ended up in a newsroom when I was 18 years old and I fell in love with this job because it has enabled me to find the truth and contribute to addressing some of society’s deformities.
Although I wanted to do something else in life and I prepared myself thoroughly for it, I remained a journalist and I think it was the best choice that life made for me.

Reporting focus

Investigative journalist focused on corruption, public acquisitions, and health, as well as judicial and home affairs

Previous publications

Current position


Following the Money: Investigating the EU Recovery Fund

Bianca Albu, Ivan Radev, Oana Despa