Media in the New Democracies of Postcommunist Eastern Europe
journal contributionposted on 2016-01-29, 00:00 authored by P. Kostadinova
The relationship between media and democratic societies is extremely complex and multifaceted, with media performing several functions - dissemination of information, fact-checking, and accountability ‘watchdog’ (to name a few) - that are of importance for both new and established democracies.1 Yet, the role of media in a democracy depends greatly on the extent to which the former, and journalists who work in news outlets, are free from government and other influences, and can offer independent, critical, and diverse perspectives. Moving beyond such normative assertions, this paper discusses three aspects of media freedom - legal protections, ownership, and content - in the eleven postcommunist countries that are now member states of the European Union (EU) - Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. As part of this discussion, the paper provides a snapshot of the limited political communication research on the region that focuses on links between media and political outcomes. The paper also draws preliminary conclusions about the role of communist legacies in explaining the diversity of media freedom across this set of countries, and it concludes with a proposed research agenda for postcommunist media studies.