easternEurope_thumbThe end of the Cold War and the collapse of a dozen totalitarian states 20 years ago triggered the emergence of democracy in the region previously known as the Communist bloc. Each country took its own path: Some are now full democracies and part of the European Union, some struggle with fragile democracies and some remain de facto authoritarian regimes.

The practice of journalism in these evolving states is problematic, especially under continuing authoritarianism. In early May, the Nieman Foundation brought together academics, journalists and media experts to discuss the different paths societies and journalism took in post-communist Eastern Europe. Using the Spring 2011 issue of Nieman Reports, “Shattering Barriers to Reveal Corruption,” as a starting point for discussion, the conference explored control over information, the lack of professionalism in mainstream media, the risks journalists face, the development of experimental networks of independent journalists and the industry of media assistance.

The goal of the conference was to generate new ideas for media and information policies in Eastern Europe and other post-totalitarian states.

Visit the Journalism in Eastern Europe website

Session I – Politics, Culture and Civil Societies of Eastern Europe: Framework for Journalism and Media

  • Moderator: Joshua Rubenstein, Northeast Regional Director, Amnesty International USA
  • Timothy J. Colton, Morris and Anna Feldberg Professor of Government and Russian Studies, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University
  • Grzegorz Ekiert, Professor of Government and Senior Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Center for European Studies, Harvard University

Session II – Practice of Journalism: Risks and Barriers

  • Moderator: Gwen Thompkins, East African Correspondent, National Public Radio, 2011 Nieman Fellow
  • Stefan Candea, Freelance Journalist and Co-founder of the Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism, Bucharest, Romania; 2011 Nieman Fellow
  • Maria Sadovskaya, Belarusian Journalist, Master’s Degree Candidate at Columbia University School of Journalism; research related to exiled media
  • Maxim Trudolyubov, Editorial Page Editor of Vedomosti, a Russian business daily; 2011 Nieman Fellow

Session III – Western Aid and Media Assistance: What is Needed Now?

  • Moderator: Nolan Bowie, Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy and a Senior Fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Jerome Aumente, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, Rutgers University, 1968 Nieman Fellow
  • Peter Gross, Professor and Director, School of Journalism and Electronic Media, College of Communication and Information, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
  • Sarah Mendelson, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, USAID