The 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.