A delegation of 15 journalists from Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia visited the EIJC to discuss the conditions for free journalism in Eastern Europe and to learn about the current research projects of the institute. The exchange between researchers of EIJC and the journalists brought up media concentration and ownership as the biggest threats to free and high-quality journalism in Ukraine and Moldova.
Especially young professionals who are not willing to cover topics of private mainstream media often cannot make a living of their work because investigative or regional political topics are rarely published by private media. Positive development was reported from Georgia: Participants from Tbilisi told the group that after change of government two years ago, press freedom has noticeably increased as officials are starting to accept the function of journalists within a democratic society. Before, authorities often even refused to pick up the phone to answer questions by journalists. These constraints often made it impossible to gather information about state-enterprises, official projects and independent control of these bodies.
Struggling to publish independent journalism, many delegation members from Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia pin their hope on regional news-websites run by journalistic freelancers, which are constantly increasing their audience. However, they see big problems in financing their work, focusing on international cooperation and backup. Participants of the EIJC explained how international journalists-networks, pan-European cooperation and comparative analysis can influence the situation. The meeting was part of a program of the Moldova Institute Leipzig.