Journalism that Matters

Views from Central and Eastern Europe

by Michał Głowacki (Volume editor) Epp Lauk (Volume editor) Auksė Balčytienė (Volume editor)
©2015 Edited Collection 214 Pages


This collective effort of Central and Eastern European (CEE) scholars investigates and compares journalism cultures in a selection of CEE countries. Simultaneously with dramatic societal and political changes, CEE journalisms undergo a technological revolution and the global repercussions of the economic crisis. According to the authors of this volume, the national cultural factors and traditions play an important role in professionalization and democratization of journalism cultures. The book critically examines some of the identified developments, such as shifting roles and functions of the media and journalists or interpretations of occupational self-regulation as genuine phenomena of CEE journalisms rather than deviations from the Western professional ideology of journalism.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Editors
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be Cited
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Table of contents
  • Editors’ Introduction
  • CHAPTER 1: The ‘Alchemy’ of change of Central and Eastern European media and societies: Auksė Balčytienė, Epp Lauk and Michał Głowacki
  • Introduction
  • Transitions, instabilities and worries – a continuous present
  • Between economy, politics and the publics
  • Journalism cultures in transition and transformation
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • CHAPTER 2: ‘East’ of ‘West’ - Media in Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia and China: Multiple post-communisms and shifting geopolitical realities: Miklós Sükösd
  • ‘East’ of ‘West’: The democratization paradigm
  • ‘West’ of ‘East’: Economic vulnerability and authoritarian backlash
  • Bringing post-communism back: Comparative perspectives and the global (re-) emergence of China and Russia
  • Conclusions
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • CHAPTER 3: The watchdogs that only bark? Media and political accountability in Central and Eastern Europe: Václav Štětka
  • Introduction: the role of media in enforcing political accountability
  • Corruption, media and accountability in Central and Eastern Europe
  • Methodological background
  • Watchdogs that don’t bite? Limited powers of investigative journalism in CEE
  • Fighting corruption in the Czech Republic: changing of the tides?
  • A tale of two countries: enforcing political accountability in the Czech Republic and Slovakia
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • CHAPTER 4: How internet changes journalism: Some trends in the ‘West’ and ‘East’: Péter Bajomi-Lázár
  • Introduction: New vs. old media
  • Internet vs. printed press
  • Civic vs. professional journalists
  • ‘East’ vs. ‘West’
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • CHAPTER 5: Professional roles, context factors and responsibility across generations of Polish journalists: Agnieszka Stępińska and Michał Głowacki
  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Defining professional roles, context factors and journalistic responsibility
  • Previous studies on Polish journalists
  • Study design
  • “Global Journalist in the 21st Century”
  • “Media Accountability and Transparency in Europe (MediaAcT)”
  • Mapping three generations of Polish journalists
  • Selected findings
  • Importance of the media functions
  • Responsibility
  • Context factors
  • Aspects of journalistic autonomy
  • Conclusions
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • CHAPTER 6: Three countries, one profession: On Polish, Romanian and Moldovan journalism cultures: Natalia Milewski, Paulina Barczyszyn and Epp Lauk
  • Introduction
  • Professional education
  • Gender
  • Results
  • Organizational affiliation
  • Professional roles
  • Polish Journalist – Citizen and Disk-Jockey
  • Romanian Journalist-Politician
  • Moldovan Nepotism-Journalist
  • Conclusions
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • CHAPTER 7: Watchdog or underdog: How ethical is Bulgarian media?: Bissera Zankova and Svetlozar Kirilov
  • Introduction
  • Media ethics in Bulgaria: General observations
  • Mirroring the ‘Others’
  • Immigrants and Refugees
  • The Coverage of Roma
  • Investigative journalism and its ethical dimensions
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • CHAPTER 8: Journalism in crisis: The case of Serbia: Miroljub Radojković, Ana Milojević and Aleksandra Ugrinić
  • Introduction
  • Theoretical framework and research method
  • Social context
  • Social and economic status of Serbian journalists
  • Pressures on media and journalists
  • Professional standards
  • Education
  • Sources of information
  • Professional ethics
  • Conclusions
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • CHAPTER 9: Russian journalism as a social lift: Comparing journalistic attitudes in the period of 1992-2008: Svetlana Pasti
  • Introduction
  • Social mobility in Post-Soviet Russia
  • Method
  • Findings
  • Satisfaction
  • Autonomy
  • Resources
  • Social lift signs
  • Openness for educated people
  • Lifting to higher social class
  • Changing age structure
  • De-unionization
  • Occupational mobility
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • CHAPTER 10: Similar – But so different: The practices of press councils in Estonia and Finland: Epp Lauk
  • Introduction
  • Can the fox watch the henhouse?
  • Finland and Estonia in comparison
  • Development of the media self-regulation in Finland and Estonia
  • Compositions of the Press Councils
  • The practices of the Press Councils
  • Codes of Ethics
  • Similar, but so different
  • Conclusions
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • Index
  • Notes about contributors

Editors’ Introduction

Media around the world are nowadays being challenged by social change, the rise of digital ecosystems and practices enabling media users to actively contribute to the process of media-making. The ‘blurring’ border between producers and consumers, technological developments, emerging economic models as well as the rise of creative publics generate both opportunities and challenges for the development of journalism in the fast-changing information society. All of this has an impact on journalism culture, which is complex, diverse and might be treated as a multilayered analytical prism.

Changes in journalism culture in different national environments have been studied for years. The notion of journalism culture has been analyzed by using different perspectives, namely as media ethics, accountability, changes in the structure of profession, generational shifts, relations with politics, public, civil society, and so on. Overall, all of this has become subject of conferences, such as “Matters of Journalism: Understanding Professional Challenges and Dilemmas” organized by the Polish Communication Association and University of Gdańsk in 2012, “The Future of Journalism in an Age of Digital Media and Economic Uncertainty” organized by the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies in 2013 and – more recently – the meeting of Journalism Studies Section at ECREA in Thessaloniki, entitled “Journalism in Transition: Crisis or Opportunity?” Moreover, journalism cultures have become the focus of several international research projects, just to mention a few – “Global Journalist in the 21st Century,” “Worlds of Journalism Study,” and “Media Accountability and Transparency in Europe (MediaAcT).” A large number of comparative initiatives underlined characteristics and features of journalism and included cases from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), which have gone through a lengthy process of free media and journalism development and share some interesting features in relation to challenges faced by contemporary journalism today.

In this collection we take a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to analyze journalism culture in selected CEE countries. The analysis is being conducted with a reference to general features and characteristics of journalism in Central and Eastern Europe; national case studies from Poland, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, Russian Federation and Estonia follow. The salient questions we address are: What are the specific features of journalism cultures in Central and Eastern Europe? ← 7 | 8 → Which external and internal factors have the biggest influence on its development? What are the differences between models of journalism developed in Central and Eastern Europe and Western European countries? And how they might be explained?

All chapters presented here address Central and Eastern European media and journalism changes by combining at least two wide-ranging perspectives – historical and cultural. By observing the particularities of contextual circumstances and cultural variations across the CEE, they also question whether an acceptable combination of those could be revealed to assist Central and Eastern European media to perform its statutory (democratic) functions. As examined and argued by various authors also in this volume, adequate economic market conditions are critically important for the media to safeguard its autonomy and professionalism; nonetheless, other (and predominantly cultural) factors are indispensible to ascertain and support the CEE media in long way to democratization. Hence, all texts presented here critically examine whether some of the identified developments and trends in Central and Eastern European journalism, such as its shifting roles and functions, and the arising importance of semi-alternative communications in the Internet space could be considered as pioneering practices and illustrations also witnessed in other countries around the world.

We expect that this book will interest media scholars and practitioners, but also students of media and communications in the media or in business studies in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. Above all we believe that interdisciplinary research presented in the collection result in the emergence of new ideas and concepts contributing to the understanding of journalism culture in the changing mediascapes.

Michał Głowacki, Epp Lauk and Auksė Balčytienė

← 8 | 9 →


The ‘Alchemy’ of change of Central and Eastern European media and societies

Auksė Balčytienė

Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania

Epp Lauk

University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Michał Głowacki

University of Warsaw, Poland

ABSTRACT: This chapter discusses some specific characteristics of the societal, technological and media change in Central and East Europe (CEE) throughout the past 25 years of transformation. Volatility and flux appear to be among the most predominant characteristics observed in all social fields and forms, including media, politics and relations with the public. Among the most common observations echoed in various studies and also in our book’s chapters, is the conclusion that increasing individualization and social division demean the idea of what is good citizenship. The media and contemporary public spheres are progressively filled with the concerns and preoccupations of people only as individual producers and consumers. Development of media and journalism in CEE countries reflects these characteristics in various ways; journalism and journalists being simultaneously subjects and agents of societal changes. Viewing journalism cultures in transition and transformation, the chapter discusses comparative approach to journalisms in CEE countries and the changing mediascapes.

KEYWORDS: journalism culture; Central and Eastern Europe; transition; transformation; democracy


The discussion in this collection of chapters revolves around the idea that the transitional societies of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) could be perceived as experimental and symbolic laboratories where all the controversies and contemporary challenges of postmodern media can be identified and tested. The post-communist CEE region could be approached as an emblematic example that is in constant flux. It is a region of diversities and mixtures, and, to quote ← 9 | 10 → from a seminal essay by Milan Kundera, represents “(…) a reduced model of Europe made up of nations conceived according to one rule: the greatest variety within the smallest space” (Kundera, 1984: 3).

The contemporary perspective of the last two and a half decades in the CEE region would assess that the period was for most of the countries a time of rapid changes and transformations, and different adoptions and adaptations to new demands and emerging cultures. It was also the time for authentic encounters, inventions and learning.

Societies in change are infused with many possibilities and choices of varying degree. In times of political, economic and social stability, the choices offered to people are limited. In most cases, these are generated within a well-established range of agreed-upon, accustomed and functioning traditions and routines. Whereas a changing society is descriptive for its lack of whichever solid social and ideological base – in times and conditions of change all conflicting views and criteria are bound to exist next to each other constantly forcing individuals to make compromises and decisions leading to difficult and ambiguous choices. Hence volatility and flux appear to be among the most predominant characteristics observed in all social fields and forms, including media and politics.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (November)
Mitteleuropa Osteuropa Multidisziplinarität Journalismus
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 214 pp., 9 b/w fig., 16 tables

Biographical notes

Michał Głowacki (Volume editor) Epp Lauk (Volume editor) Auksė Balčytienė (Volume editor)

Michał Głowacki is an Assistant Professor at the University of Warsaw (Poland). Epp Lauk is a Professor of Journalism at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland). Auksė Balčytienė is a Professor of Journalism at Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania).


Title: Journalism that Matters
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217 pages