The first time our group met, we discussed our interests for choosing the countries we did. Our experiences with the culture, both living in the countries and interacting with the people, were our primary foundations in picking Lithuania, Czech Republic, and Croatia. As we individually performed research on each country, we began to explore a range of fields. When coming up with a group topic for our final presentation, we combined our research findings and found commonalities between the three countries. Our topic concentrates on the transitional phases of media systems, primarily journalism, during post-communist years as we strive to challenge assumptions about Eastern European countries.
We begin with Egle’s search, prompted by one question in mind — “Where is Lithuania today?” To her, the biggest challenge about answering this question was that the scope of a country’s media environment can be quite vast, even if the country is small. However, after digging around the Global and Transcultural Communication research guide, she found Freedom House. She used the information she found there, adding a bit of insight from her previous research, to formulate more thoughts.
After the dismemberment of the Soviet Union in 1992, only one country – Lithuania – was ranked by freedom house as Free. It has retained this status, and within the last twenty years, Lithuania joined NATO and the European Union. However, all is not flowers and butterflies in this previously oppressed gem of a country. While the media enjoys almost unrestricted freedom, many Lithuanian citizens are dismayed by what they see. The pluralistic political system in Lithuania is drenched in corruption, which is constantly reported upon. Furthermore, since Lithuania is such a small country, a significant part of the media comes from foreign sources. For proof, one could check any major news source (www.delfi.it and www.15min.it). Together, in the minds of Lithuanians, this paints a picture in which the country they live in is corrupt, while other nations are interesting and entertaining. To add to this, 83.5 percent of the population is of Lithuanian origin. Ultimately, this adds to many young Lithuanians yearning for a way out, even though their country is in comparatively good shape, at least as far as their freedom is concerned. But who can blame them? With unrestricted access to the internet, and usage of internet increasing from 35 to 62 percent of the population within the last 6 years, Lithuanians have many places in the world to pseudo-explore.
Continuing with the Czech Republic, Gabby used EBSCOhost via the Media, Culture, and Communication tab on NYU Bobcat. In her previous research she searched for articles under Czechoslovakia. This time she used the Czech Republic as her keyword in order to find information on post-communist media (i.e. after Czechoslovakia split). She searched “Czech Republic and newspapers” and found two articles best relating to our topic. The first article illustrates the struggles Czech media faces post-Communism, while the second article shows Czech journalism in a positive light.
“Learning the Role of Democracy” reports 10 years after the Velvet Revolution and shows evidence that the Czech press has yet to mature into the institution they need to retain and strengthen their new democracy. Author John Hopkins found that Czech commercial television and investor-owned newspapers are increasingly attractive in their production values, serving high on sensation and low on facts. Many Czech journalists are not prepared to serve the new democracy. Hopkins explains that several former Communist journalists are still at work. The other group of journalists is those who entered the newsroom after 1990. Because they did not have older colleagues to guide them, many of these journalists are young and inexperienced.
“For Soviet Medals to Dancing Garfield” illustrates the operations of “Rude Pravo”, the Czech Republic’s daily newspaper. The article reveals the complete transformation Rude Pravo took post-Communism. It is one of the nations leading sources of news and the only major paper in the country operating without the aid of foreign capital. Editor in Chief Zdenek Porybny has given several face-lifts to the newspaper, ending all relations to its Communist past. Porybny replaced the Soviet medals of the paper’s banner with a dancing Garfield. The paper’s most recent change was dropping “Rude” from its name to become just “Pravo”. The reason for this name change was due to Porybny’s desire to drop the word “red”, as Rude Pravo means “red justice”. When Czechs look at their daily paper, they no longer see red, erasing ties to its Communist past.
Croatia, as the Czech Republic, has had quite a history, transitioning through a variety of regimes, political parties, and even enduring a tough civil war, making it a great candidate to perform research on media transitions. Petra began her search process by finding articles under the Media, Communication and Journalism tab under research guidance on the Bobst website. The primary keywords used while searching for articles in the Communication and Mass Media Complete database were “Croatia and Newspapers.” Though a general search, she found a number of interesting articles that stimulated her search even more.
The first article by, Karol Jakubowicz, compared the press freedoms within the countries of Eastern Europe in 1995. This laid the foundation for the rest of her search process. Furthering her search, she found a 1998 newspaper article by Sascha Brodsky explaining lawsuits some newspapers faced for what was assumed to be libel against the Tudjman regime in the mid 1990’s, right after the war. This connected to the topic because it showed that even though journalists had been under governmental control for some time, they were ready to make the transition into real journalism, attempting to live in a democratic society. No more are the papers writing what the government wants them to, they are becoming more independent.
The Third article, written by Mato Brautovi, was about the development of online news in Croatia through the 1990’s, which is a great article challenging the assumptions of the development of Eastern European online news. Online news in Croatia started in 1993, during the war, and is still developing. HRT, the national TV and radio station, was the first to start online journalism in Croatia 1994. This can be compared to the first online news that came from a Palo Alto Weekly newspaper in California in 1994, illustrating the fact that Croatia was not far behind in the their online developments as was and still is assumed. Currently, 45% of Croatians trust online journalism; making it the third most used form of media in Croatia.
With our research, we can see that these Eastern European countries have not only grown tremendously in their expansion of media through their transitional phases, but have also maintained reputable statuses in their quest’s for free journalism, continuously pushing forward.
Brautovi, Mato. “Razvoj Hrvatskog online Novinarstva 1993-2010” (“Development of Croatian online journalism 1993-2010”). Medianali, Vol 4 (2010). No. 8. Communication & Mass Media Complete. March 23, 2012
Brodsky, Sascha. “The Press in a New Democracy Battles a Tough Enemy: Lawsuits.” Columbia Journalism Review. Nov/Dec 1998. Viewed: March 24, 2012. <http://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu:9451/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=b0943165-5407-4543-bcce-0be9e1a6d1a5%40sessionmgr15&vid=4&hid=126>
Hopkins, John D. “Learning The Role Of Democracy.” Quill 88.1 (2000): 42. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2012. http://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu:9451/ehost/detail?vid=3&hid=126&sid=5e8385a3-1347-4444-9769-5db06f36bc87%40sessionmgr12&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=ufh&AN=2746190
Jakubowicz, Karol. “Media Within and Without the State: Press Freedom in Eastern Europe.” Journal of Communication. Vol. 45, Issue 4. Published: Feb. 7, 2006. March 23, 2012. <http://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu:30845/doi/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1995.tb00758.x/pdf>
Kayal, Michele, and Suzan Revah. “From Soviet Medals To A Dancing Garfield.” American Journalism Review 17.10 (1995): 14. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2012. http://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu:9451/ehost/detail?vid=6&hid=126&sid=5e8385a3-1347-4444-9769-5db06f36bc87%40sessionmgr12&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=ufh&AN=9512105549
Puddington, Arch. “Promise and Reversal: The Post-Soviet Landscape Twenty Years On.” Freedom House. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/special-reports/promise-and-reversal-post-soviet-landscape-twenty-years>.
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