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Danger! Men at work

European legislation and free expression in Hungary

The European Union’s new directive on Audiovisual Media Services may not be all that it is cracked up to be. On the contrary, under the guise of protecting vulnerable groups from hate speech, it may have the unintended consequence of allowing national governments to indulge in a little censorship. Something his region is only too familiar with, warns Péter Molnár, a specialist on freedom of speech from Hungary.

The fate of the controversial and outspoken Croatian weekly “Feral Tribune” is an object lesson in what happens to a publication that refuses to toe the government line or bow to the tyranny of the market. In his editorial for the final issue of the paper, Viktor Ivancic describes how a lifeline was thrown out only to be inexplicably withdrawn.

The iconic Serbian broadcaster B92 was founded in 1989 in the expectation of a new era of media independence. But Serbia had reckoned without Slobodan Milosevic. With rare exceptions, the media became a key part of his nationalist propaganda arsenal. Along with other courageous publications and individuals, B92 survived the war into the new, more open media climate. But like society itself, the media bears the scars of war, writes B92 founder Veran Matic.

A shifting media landscape

An interview with Miklós Haraszti

In his time, Miklós Haraszti has been writer, journalist, human rights activist, politician and academic. Under the communists, he co-founded Hungary’s Democratic Opposition Movement and was editor of a samizdat magazine. After participating in the round table negotiations that led to the country’s first free elections, he became a member of parliament. Today, he is the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. On the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, he speaks to Judith Vidal-Hall about the shifting media landscape in the post-communist countries of Europe.

A Mediterranean media climate

The struggle for journalistic autonomy in Slovenia

Even before ’89, Slovene journalists and civil society were fighting for the right to free expression and a media free of government control. This earned critical journalism great credibility and led to a situation in the 1990s, rare among other post-socialist countries, in which the media was protected from market forces by public subsidies. In the last decade, however, this has turned into political interventionism that, together with commercialization, stands between the Slovene media and true autonomy, writes Marjan Horvat.

Us and them?

Croatia: Mafia, media and murder

The initial probe into the murder of Nacional editor Ivo Pukancic in October 2008 indicated a disturbing level of entanglement between the criminal underworld, high-level politics and the media in Croatia. Several arrests and an informal state of emergency later, there are still no convictions. Journalist Drago Hedl, himself the recipient of death threats in November 2008, looks behind the scenes.

The enemy within

Roma, the media and hate speech

Despite European Union legislation on the subject, Europe’s Roma remain the victim of discrimination and abuse, as much in the media as in society at large. In Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, not to mention Italy, it is the media that more often than not instigate the witch hunts.

Handmaiden of democracy or everybody's football?

The media in central and eastern Europe twenty years after 1989

Those in central and eastern Europe who, after 1989, took the commitment to free expression seriously, and who saw the media as the handmaiden of democracy and the conventional watchdog on political and commercial power, today have become targets for new and subtler forms of censorship, writes Eurozine guest-editor Judith Vidal-Hall.

Hey Jude

Media self-regulation in Romania

Media self-regulation has many advantages over the more intrusive forms of state legislation, argues Ioana Avadani. Not only would it help raise professional standards in Romania, it might create greater responsibility towards the public that now trust journalists so implicitly.

From patriotism to plurality

The Polish media journey

In many ways, Poland had a head start on other countries in eastern Europe. But after an ebullient beginning, the post-1989 media there appears to have lost its impetus for reform. Media law has yet to catch up with the facts on the ground and constitutional assurances of free expression are not translated into legal independence. Nevertheless, locally owned Gazeta Wyborcza continues to set the standard for journalism throughout eastern central Europe.

A documentary about the Prague Spring created the impression that the revival of the nation in the 1960s was driven wholly by the reform communists, writes Adam Gebert. Why was no platform given to those “who were never the least bit involved with the communist ideology”?

In their efforts of marketing and conversion, both globalization and the religious are forms of total war disguised as peace. The total or global nature of this disguised war leads to what Leonard Lawlor calls “the problem of the worst”.

Russian philosopher Michail Ryklin’s new book “Communism as Religion” explores how the militant atheism of the Bolsheviks, far from rendering religion obsolete, created a new faith. Here he talks to “New Humanist” editor Caspar Melville about the religiosity inherent in western European intellectuals’ admiration for the Soviet Union, including Russell, Koestler, Benjamin, and Brecht.

Panopticism is waning; panspectrocism is the nascent social diagram that organizes our lives. Heineken and Wal-Mart use pattern recognition and computer-assisted predictions of future behaviours to secure their markets. Google, the panspectric corporation par excellence, tells us that the company wants to know what you’ll want to do tomorrow. This brings renewed poignancy to Gabriel Tarde’s contagion-centric thought, write Kullenberg and Palmås.

The reports on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction decided that the US invasion of Iraq could start. Today, we know that these weapons were fiction, an image produced to justify the war. Discussing Hannah Arendt and the Viet Nam war, Cathy Caruth shows that this type of political imagery has a long tradition in the US.

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