NYU Prague Hosts Journalists from around the World

The collapse of the Iron Curtain led to the sudden creation of free media – so what does the media in post-Soviet countries look like today?
Over 50 journalists, scholars, and media analysts from around the world met at NYU Prague last week to talk about this question – and many more – at a conference entitled 25 Years After: The Challenge of Building the Post-Communist Media and Communications Industries.
The conference was co-organized by two Prague-based NGOs: Keynote and the newsmagazine Transitions Online. Jeremy Druker, Professor of Social Media Networking at NYU Prague and the co-founder of Transitions Online, explained their motivation for organizing the event: “Academics and working journalists don’t often mix. So we decided to create a rare opportunity where researchers on the media’s transition would sit side-by-side on panels with journalists experiencing that very transition from the inside.”
The variety of countries represented brought extremely different perspectives: in addition to numerous delegates from the Czech Republic, there were also speakers from Poland, Hungary, Belarus, Serbia, Italy, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Albania, Romania, Georgia, Austria, Belgium, France, Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Canada, and the US. Their professions were also divergent, including professors, the senior communications manager of Google, activists, journalists, and analysts.
The shadow of Russia and her influence over post-Soviet countries loomed large in discussions. Keynote speaker Jeffrey Gedmin, former President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, noted that “Communism is not coming back, but history is coming back to this part of the world.”
Jiri Pehe, Director of NYU Prague, said he believes that media is more balanced and more pluralistic than it was initially after the fall of Communism, but it is now especially vulnerable to the rise of local oligarchs who are buying up media organizations. “You can establish democratic institutions quickly, but it takes a few generations to establish a democratic culture,” said Pehe. “We aren’t over the stage of post-Communism at all.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *