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In 1989 the Berlin Wall came down signalling the beginning of the end of the post World-War-Two settlement that had divided Europe and created the Cold War. The communist world crumbled over a few years, but at a cost. There was a bitter war in the Balkans, shorter, but equally bitter conflicts in the Caucuses as well as in Central Asia. The Soviet Union fell apart leaving in its place new states varying in size from huge countries like Ukraine to the tiny states of the Baltic coast and Kyrgyzstan in far Central Asia. There was also enormous poverty as unemployment soared and incomes collapsed. It was expected that the region – a word often used by those working anywhere between Poland and Kazakhstan – would quickly embrace democracy and be market led. Aid poured in to facilitate that. Some countries in Eastern and Central Europe either fully or partially developed democratic institutions, and the market, especially in those countries seeking EU membership. Nevertheless, despite efforts by western donors, not all countries took equally to such developments. Some, like Belarus or Turkmenistan, developed authoritarian regimes, far worse than anything that had gone before. Moreover, in many countries there developed nostalgia for the former Soviet regime, as poverty increased and pensions lost value. Of considerable concern was the state of the press, radio and television and how the media was to be transformed from one that served the state and the Communist Party to one that would operate as one of the pillars of democracy. This concern led to programmes designed to develop the media and professionalise journalism. This writer was involved in a number of these programmes. 8 My introduction to the countries of the former communist regimes was through media development, training and education: I taught ethics to young journalists in Croatia, worked with journalists in Macedonia on establishing a code of ethics, worked with journalists in central Russia on journalism and journalists’ rights, and in Belarus on basic reporting. Later, I was involved on journalism education in Bulgaria, Ukraine and Azerbaijan and, more recently, with issues around children’s rights and journalism practice with UNICEF in Turkey, the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia. I have chosen seven articles and a number of pieces of journalism for this submission. The work represents a number of years work in media development and also attempts to put the issues in some historical context.
Foley, M. (2013). The press, democracy and history: journalism and democracy in transitional societies. Doctoral Thesis. Technological University Dublin. doi.org/10.21427/418g-j581