26 May 2017 By Marius Dragomir
For ten years, the Russian government has built media across eastern Europe. They are becoming a fearsome player in the region’s media market.
Last March, far-right British activist Jim Dowson told the Guardian that the website Patriotic News Agency, which he had launched in July 2016 to spread pro-Trump propaganda, has bases in Hungary and Serbia. He said that other such platforms are also based there.
5 June 2016 By Marius Dragomir
The news media industry has been faced with a profound crisis for more than a decade now, and peoples' dwindling trust in journalists has much to do with it.
May was a nightmarish month for the 500 staff of Mega, the oldest privately owned channel in Greece, as the station was faced with closure following mounting debts, mostly to banks. In the end, the three families that control the channel - Psiharis, Bobolas and Vardinogiannis - agreed to increase Mega’s capital to save the channel from bankruptcy.
But the Mega crisis is illustrative of a much bigger problem that Greek journalism has been facing for years: the collusion between media and politics. Most of the country’s mainstream media was established by businessmen merely as PR channels for their other companies. Politicians don’t touch them as they enjoy the positive coverage; and owners fund the media through profits made in other companies.
It doesn’t come as a surprise, then, to see Greece at the bottom of the heap when it comes to trust in news organizations and journalists. Only one in five trust the news in Greece and a paltry 11% trust journalists, according to a survey run in 26 countries worldwide by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ).
Greece is not alone. Journalism has a growing trust problem in many other places.
2 May 2016
The Czech server Motejlek.com is a rare success story of paid online news. The departure of its founder is likely to harm the site - and, to some extent, independent journalism, too.
The founder and head of the Czech business news website Motejlek.com, journalist Miroslav Motejlek, quit at the end of April, dealing a blow to the profitable website whose exclusive content, available only to paying customers, has been based mostly on information from his sources.
The website, which Mr Motejlek launched in 2008, is a rare success story of paid online news in this Central European country where most publishers, struggling amid a glut of free information on the internet, are reluctant to charge for content, fearing readers would opt for free alternatives.
19 January 2016 By Marius Dragomir
The Internet has become the new heaven for unheard voices, new forms of commerce and limitless communication across eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. But who owns the companies providing this service? Many of these owners are unknown, others are linked with politics and some are dubious characters embroiled in criminal investigations.
A decade ago, the internet was the realm solely of the progressive, technically savvy, often nerdy youth in many countries of eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. But today, people who in the 2000s didn’t even have a computer regularly browse through their favorite news sites, email and buy their groceries online.
Since 2000, internet usage in the Czech Republic has skyrocketed from less than 10% to nearly 80% of the population in 2014, according to data from World Bank. In less advanced economies such as Bulgaria, it has jumped as well to some 56% in 2014 from a mere 5% in 2000. Even in some slowly growing markets such as Armenia, over 46% of the people used the service in 2014, a gigantic leap from a mere 1.3% in 2000.
But who is behind the telecom groups that provide this service?