Nieman Conference Examines Media Freedom in Eastern Europe

By Seitz, Jonathan | Nieman Reports, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Nieman Conference Examines Media Freedom in Eastern Europe


Seitz, Jonathan, Nieman Reports


"One couldn't be there without recognizing that most of the citizens you met were tethered to their nation, like pigeons tethered to a string. ... State-controlled television, radio and newspapers were delivering this steady stream of propaganda, hearsay and innuendo."

That's how Gwen Thompkins, NF '11, summed up her experiences with Eastern Europe and its media when she lived in the former Yugoslavia from 1988 to 1990. And although she was speaking about Eastern Europe as it was before the fall of communism, not all of the region's new private media owners have given up on the old state model for news.

To continue the conversation started in the Spring 2011 issue of Nieman Reports, "Shattering Barriers to Reveal Corruption," the Nieman Foundation held a conference--"Journalism in Eastern Europe: Who Controls the Media?"--on May 6. Academics, journalists and media experts shared what they and their colleagues in the region go through to report--or train others to report--the news in Eastern Europe.

"It's very rare that you have all these people in the same room together--working journalists and academics," said Romanian journalist Stefan Candea, NF '11, after the conference. "Journalists can learn new things from scholars, and the scholars can learn a lot from hearing about the reality on the ground, not just from statistics. …

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