More diversity through alternative media projects

Panel discussion on alternative journalism models

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The "Article 10 ECHR Task Force", named after the European Convention on Human Rights, is dealing with media freedom and media legislation in South East Europe. At the invitation of the KAS Media Program, the experts from ten countries met and debated about perspectives for alternative media projects in the region. The workshop took place 14th to 16th of September in Sofia.

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(from left) Gelu Trandafir, Communication Director of Freedom House Romania; Thorsten Geissler, KAS Bulgaria Director; Christian Spahr, Head of KAS Media Program South East Europe; Prof. Dr. Johannes Weberling from Viadrina European University in Frankfurt (Oder); Miranda Patrucić from the "Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project" (OCCRP)

(from left) Gelu Trandafir, Communication Director of Freedom House Romania; Thorsten Geissler, KAS Bulgaria Director; Christian Spahr, Head of KAS Media Program South East Europe; Prof. Dr. Johannes Weberling from Viadrina European University in Frankfurt (Oder); Miranda Patrucić from the "Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project" (OCCRP)

Christian Spahr, Head of the KAS Media Program South East Europe, opened the seminar and expressed his concern regarding the further decrease of trust in media in the region. Nevertheless, many independent media initiatives have been started in the last years. Spahr was optimistic that these projects would contribute to more transparency in politics, economy and society.

Prof. Dr. Johannes Weberling, founder of the task force and professor for media law at Viadrina European University in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, shared his view on increasing media diversity through new media projects. In this regard, new legal forms for media were also discussed. The legal form of a cooperative such as the "European Cooperative Society" (SCE) was introduced as a possible alternative for media. Prof. Dr. Weberling outlined that the principle of cooperatives "one member, one vote" should be implemented in the internal structure of such projects. Members would be involved in the decision-making and influences from outside could be eliminated more effectively. While in Germany the idea of cooperatives has Christian and liberal roots, the term "cooperative" is rather being associated with the communist past in South East Europe. Therefore, the concept should be brought in a new context in order to be successfully applied in the region and in the media sector.

Panel discussion about alternative business models for quality journalism

Alternative media projects run by NGO’s or associations already exist, but sustainable funding is difficult. The participants agreed on the fact that a long-term business model needs to be found in any case; only in this way independent reporting could be guaranteed. Different kinds of revenues can be combined: from private or public sources; international organisations could be also involved. Such mixed funding could bring more neutrality. "A huge challenge is to convince citizens to pay for quality journalism," commented the Hungarian media expert Dr. Gábor Polyák.

On 15 th of December a panel discussion took place in the framework of the seminar with the aim to introduce this topic to a broader audience. Prof. Dr. Johannes Weberling, KAS Bulgaria Director Thorsten Geissler, investigative journalist Miranda Patrucić from the "Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project" (OCCRP) in Sarajevo, as well as the international editor of the Bulgarian media platform "KlinKlin", Ruslan Trad, and Communication Director of Freedom House Romania, Gelu Trandafir took part in the debate. The discussion was moderated by Christian Spahr.

More in the event report.

Author

Manuela Zlateva

Publication series

Event Reports

published

Bulgaria, September 15, 2016