UK-born Michael Bird has been in love with eastern Europe ever since watching Elton John's video for 'Nikita' and falling for the border guard with 'eyes like ice on fire'.
After travelling extensively through the ex-Communist region during the 1990s in search of this woman - in vain - he settled in Bucharest, where he is now a journalist, writer and TV presenter who specialises in long-form features on major social, political and business issues in southeast Europe.
For The Black Sea he has travelled to Ukraine, Romania, Georgia and Moldova to investigate the impact of problem drug use on fragile economies, including recording the stories of addicts and survivors of substance abuse.
For his work for The Black Sea covering the HIV epidemic in eastern Europe, he is winner of the 2014 Award for Best Initiatives of European Online Investigative Journalism, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (European University Institute, Florence, Italy).
Major projects he has worked on include Football Leaks in 2016/2017. This is a series of articles from the largest leak in sports history undertaken in a cross-border project with European Investigative Collaborations spanning 14 countries, leading national media outlets and over 60 journalists. In 2016, he has also worked on Eurocrimes, a data journalism project revealing the nationalities of criminals in 25 EU countries.
Previously his work has appeared in the Independent on Sunday, Politico, Tagesspiegel, Ukraine Today, Design Week, the New Statesman, EU Observer, Druglink magazine, Business Insider, The Diplomat - Bucharest and throughout the national press of Romania and the Republic of Moldova. He has reported for Deutsche Welle, and been interviewed on Romanian protests in 2017 for the BBC and Al Jazeera.