The media have played, and continue to play, an important role in the process of liberalisation and democratisation that has taken place in the ex-Communist countries of East and Central Europe, and the former Soviet Union, since the early 1990s. However, the extent of the contribution varies from country to country, depending on how the media are owned and organised, relations with government, and other factors.
As part of the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium, the workshop The Media in Transition: Lessons from Eastern Europe was held in Potsdam on September 8. It was co-organised by the Weidenfeld Institute for Strategic Dialogue, the Reuters Foundation and the Wincott Foundation. The purpose of the Potsdam workshop was to bring together working journalists from several of the transition countries, along with observers and media experts from Western Europe. The aim was to share experiences and to discuss how best the media can assist the liberalisation process. Apart from a long journalistic experience in their home countries, the participants have received training and conducted research in journalism at Oxford under the auspices of the Wincott Foundation and the Reuters Foundation.
The workshop has been planned as a first step in what will be a continuing dialogue and network, involving further workshops and participants from a wider group of practitioners from different parts of the region. These workshops would be designed to produce a stock-taking of the transition process – in its economic, financial and political aspects – and of the activities of the media in the countries concerned. They would generate practical lessons that could be transferred to other countries, which are going through transition processes – for example, in the Balkans, around the Black Sea and in Central Asia. As part of the ongoing exchange between the participants, an online forum has been created on the website of the newly established Reuters Institute for the Study of International Journalism in Oxford.
Results of the workshop were presented by Daniel Popica during the plenary session of the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium on September 9.