About us

The CONTEXT platform is an independent media start-up that aims to cultivate and expand Romania’s community of investigative journalists, with a strong focus on exposing corruption, fraud, and organized crime by publishing journalistic investigations.

Our main objective is to improve the standard of journalistic investigations through education, technology, and mentoring programs dedicated to young reporters who want to turn their hands to investigative journalism.

Ultimately, CONTEXT is a hub that supports cooperation between investigative journalists in Romania, one of Europe’s most corrupt countries. Furthermore, CONTEXT is part of the international network Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and actively promotes cross-border cooperation between investigative journalists. 

The team

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Attila Biro

Attila Biro is the co-founder of CONTEXT. Over nearly two decades, Biro has carried out extensive investigations local and international into organized crime and corruption. He often works with journalists affiliated with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project network. Prior to launching Context, he was part of the investigative RISE Project team and served as its executive director for three years. He has been part of renowned global projects including the Azerbaijan Laundromat scheme and the Panama Papers scandal. He had also published investigations in Digi24, Gândul.info și Hotnews.ro. Over the years, Biro has received several media awards for his work. Training and mentoring the next generation of investigative journalists is important to him.

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Iulia Stănoiu

Iulia Stănoiu is an investigative reporter at CONTEXT.  Previously, she worked for seven years at a local radio station as an anchor and reporter and worked for four years as a print journalist. In 2023, Iulia won First Prize for the Best Journalistic Debut category in the SuperWritings (Superscrieri) Gala, for a series of investigations called “President of a County.” Iulia is also part of the Firehose of Falsehood project, a team of investigative reporters from 13 countries in Eastern and Central Europe, affiliated with OCCRP. They investigate networks that disseminate pro-Russian disinformation, propaganda, and conspiracies. Iulia also contributed to the international investigation Shadow Diplomats, coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

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Stephen McGrath

Stephen McGrath is a British journalist who lives and works in Romania and is also a co-founder of CONTEXT. His work has been published by various international publications such as the Financial Times, BBC, The Associated Press, The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, and many others. He covers everything from politics to the environment, from social topics to culture. In 2019, it was shortlisted by the Foundation for Combating Human Trafficking for the best article written on human trafficking. Stephen also produces radio pieces for various BBC channels, and Deutsche Welle.

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Mihaela Tănase

Mihaela Tănase is a graduate of the Faculty of Journalism in Sibiu. She worked as a fact-checker for Factual.ro, a project that investigates claims made by Romanian politicians. Specialized in scrutinizing open data and public procurement, Mihaela builds her investigations on the age-old principle to „follow the money.” One of her investigations for the investigative platform, RISE Project, showed how she discovered that a former vice-president of the Senate received money from a real estate developer who had seized the land of the factory formerly privatized by the politician himself. In a separate investigation published on CONTEXT she discovered how the state paid millions of euros for a non-existent golf course. Mihaela also contributed to the international investigation Shadow Diplomats, coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

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Cristian Andrei Leonte

Cristian Andrei Leonte has worked as a journalist since 2011 and is a co-founder of CONTEXT. He also set up Info Sud-Est, an independent regional publication in Constanta, Romania’s main Black Sea port. He has published numerous investigations and features about local corruption, the destruction of historical and cultural heritage, the Black Sea and Danube Delta environment as well as multi-ethnic cooperation. He also works as a reporter and editor of G4Media, and has worked on cross-border articles with journalists from the OCCRP, Suddeutsche Zeitung (Germania) sau NRC (Olanda) and others.

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Taisiia Bakharieva

Taisiia Bakharieva is a journalist from Kyiv, Ukraine, now living in Romania. A journalist since 1994, Taisiia has worked for the Ukrainian news agency, RATAU, and three newspapers including a role as editor-in-chief of the culture desk of the newspaper and online for FAKTI. Taisiia has interviewed scores of high-profile figures in Ukraine and also works as a producer and presenter on the television show TV-FAKTI. After Russia invaded her home country, Taisiia moved to Romania where she joined the CONTEXT team. Taisiia focusses on investigations into Russian war crimes being committed in Ukraine, and often interviews victims and witnesses of Russian terror. She is a longstanding member of the Union of Journalists of Ukraine.

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Mircea Varlam

Vasile-Mircea Varlam studied political science and in 2021, obtained two master’s degrees in this field. He became acquainted with investigative journalism in several training courses. Together with the CONTEXT team, he documents the environment, corruption, and organized crime topics.

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Yana Skoryna

Yana Skoryna worked as a TV journalist for a decade in her native Ukraine, where she covered everything from large-scale projects to entertainment and also worked as an editor. Since moving to Romania after the war started last year, Yana has worked for CONTEXT where she compiles a bi-weekly war crimes diary, which logs atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine. She also interviews victims of Russian aggression and writes about their experiences and hopes it can one day be used as evidence against the perpetrators. Yana prides herself on having a keen eye for detail.

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Matthew Garvey

Matthew Garvey is a Romanian journalist, born in the United States, who now works as an investigative reporter for CONTEXT. Over the last few years, Matthew has gained experience working in radio, online media platforms and television. The topics he’s covered include the ongoing war in Ukraine, local politics, and corruption. He joined CONTEXT in 2023 after taking some of our investigative journalism training courses. He says he became a journalist because he thinks that politicians should work exclusively for the citizens.

Alina Okolot

Alina Okolot

Alina Okolot is a Ukrainian journalist from Kyiv. She has been working in the media since 2017, as a television news journalist at PravdaTut TV, where she created stories on topics ranging from politics to economics to culture and sports. She has also worked as an editor of entertainment and educational programmes for the Kyiv TV channel and the online edition of The Truth of Irpin. Alina says that journalism is her calling. After moving to Romania, she joined the CONTEXT team where she now focuses on investigating Russia’s war crimes in her native Ukraine. She also writes often about corruption, conducts interviews and documents eyewitness stories on topics related to the war. Alina’s goal is to highlight the world’s truths through quality journalism.

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Alexandra Stara

Alexandra started her journalism career as a student at a Ukrainian national TV channel in Kyiv where she worked on an investigative news program. Over a three-year period there, Alexandra covered topics including politics, environment, and economics, and she travelled extensively around Ukraine and abroad. After Russia’s full-scale invasion, she temporarily moved to Budapest, where she launched a blog for Ukrainians and hosted a radio show for refugees. After gaining experience, she worked for some international media outlets and moved to Bucharest where she joined the Context team.

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Mihaela Armaselu

Mihaela Armaselu is Executive Director at CONTEXT. She previously worked for more than 20 years as a Press Assistant and Public Relations specialist for the U.S. Embassy in Romania. She organized media events and campaigns for U.S. government entities and coordinated programs focused on local press development; investigations; anti-corruption; disinformation; human rights, business as well as military and NATO media programs. Between 1997-2000, she worked as a correspondent for the U.S. news agency the Associated Press, filing stories from Romania and countries from former Yugoslavia. Her articles were picked up by top  international newspapers including the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and Boston Globe. In the mid-90s, she was a political correspondent for local newspaper Libertatea, and contributed to various English-language publications.

Partners

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Code of ethics of Context.ro

Context.ro documents and publishes journalistic investigations, news, interviews, opinion and other media products with the goal of informing the public on issues that impact them.

Our reporters must not abuse their professional status for self-serving or dishonest purposes or betray the public’s trust.

We independently document the activity of public institutions, companies and responsible entities in society, including the behavior of official representatives at all administrative and governmental levels.

We are committed to ensuring that the institutions and actors that impact society are subjected to rigorous civilian controls.

Our work is guided by equally rigorous standards of honesty, which includes avoiding any conflicts of interest.

Trust must underpin the relationship between us and our readers which means honesty is at the centre of everything we do. We strive to ensure that our media products are accurate, offer context and impartiality in connection to all involved parties.

We are accountable to the public for the fairness and accuracy of our media products. Any errors that may occur within our products, including errors caused by involuntary omission of information, are promptly and clearly corrected based on stringent internal procedures.

Where public communications are concerned, we respect the general principles of decency.

Protecting information sources is a priority for us in accordance with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.

Our materials are based on public information as well as on public interest information provided by integrity whistleblowers or leaks of information of public interest. 

We respect the rights of those we write about to present their point of view and make every effort to do so. This does not mean that we undertake to publish in full and without analysis any reply or point of view that we may receive. We do not publish disparaging or unsubstantiated information.

Context.ro takes responsibility for all published materials, as do their authors.

We do not abuse the journalistic profession to obtain undue benefits. We do not publish disguised advertising or electoral advertising.

We do not accept funding that we know comes from dishonest sources, was obtained by violation of the law or injustice.

We will make every effort to make the financing of our activity transparent by publishing annual reports.

We do not tolerate plagiarism.

We believe that individuals have a right to privacy. However, the legitimate public interest will always come first if the information related to private life refers to actions that have an impact on society, can lead to the justification of the subjects’ actions, to the credibility of their public opinions, to the value of their publicly expressed conclusions.

We have a clear procedure for verifying information we publish.

  • What we do 

We are a team of multinational investigative journalists working in the interest of citizens.

We publish media investigations about cross-border organized crime, corruption, and other types of injustice and document the impact on society, to help the public make better informed, responsible decisions.

The influence of organized crime on the economy, politics, the business environment, the labour market, and public administration is significant.

Romania is one of the European Union countries where international organized crime networks operate and few citizens understand the real world impact of its activity on their daily lives.

Organized crime knows no country borders. We try to understand and describe how criminal organizations work in Romania and in the wider region.

To cover complex international cases we work with investigative journalists from all over the world.

We are part of the global network of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and collaborate with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

We also develop various multidisciplinary mentoring and training programs related to investigative journalism techniques and the fight against corruption.

  • The principles and values that guide us

Context.ro was created primarily to help develop and improve the standards of investigative journalism.

Our core mandate is to accurately inform the public. We document and write materials honestly with the goal of strengthening democratic values. We want to increase public trust through a balanced media.

We aim to improve the procedures used in investigative journalism, using innovative techniques to increase the overall quality of our work.

We foster cooperation between journalists and collaboration between newsrooms, between other NGOs and entities that promote democracy and the fight against corruption.

Our code of ethics is inspired by the journalistic codes of ethics and The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project guidelines, of the American Society of Newspaper Publishers, the Czech Union of Journalists, the Irish Press Council, the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism, and the European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence.

Annual reports

Annual Report 2022 En

Contact

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