Lessons from Other Transitions: Challenges for Independent Media in Europe and Eurasia

On July 28, CIMA hosted a roundtable discussion to examine lessons learned by the media development community in Europe and Eurasia after major political, social, and economic transformation. The event emphasized progress and decline in the media landscape in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, and Ukraine, among other countries in the region.

The exchange among participants highlighted how local civil society organizations, donors, implementers, and policymakers can practically apply experiences and lessons learned from these countries to inform media development initiatives and programs. Speakers, listed below, noted that political change can wreak havoc and create major reversals on hard-won gains by independent media, as in Macedonia and Hungary. Thus, the need to adapt quickly to changing conditions in a country is extremely important. Participants also focused on the need for stronger media literacy programs and for constant attention to implementation of media laws, particularly access to information laws.

The event coincided with the 10th anniversary of the IREX Media Sustainability Index (MSI) for Europe and Eurasia, which analyzes the strength and viability of the independent media sector in 21 countries in the region. Presentations were followed with questions from the audience.


Meg Gaydosik

Myroslava Gongadze
Voice of America 

Tamar Gurchiani
National Security Archive

Anastasia Mirzoyants

Rich McClear (via Skype)

Leon Morse

Moderated by:

Nadia Diuk
National Endowment for Democracy

About the speakers:

Meg Gaydosik is the senior media development/rights and tolerance advisor for the Europe and Eurasia Bureau of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In this capacity, she provides advice and assistance to USAID missions on indigenous media development programming, freedom of expression, and access to information issues. Prior to joining USAID in 2006, Gaydosik worked for 11 years as an on-site media development consultant or project manager in nearly all of the Balkan and former Soviet Union countries. In 2003, she was awarded a Knight International Press Fellowship and served in Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. Gaydosik is a former commercial television station manager from Fairbanks, Alaska.

Myroslava Gongadze is a journalist and television anchor for the Voice of America’s Ukrainian service. She has won numerous awards for her accomplishments as a journalist, including her reporting on the eve of the 2004 Orange Revolution, and as a champion of democracy and independent media. The widow of slain investigative reporter Heorhiy Gongadze, she fled Ukraine in 2001, and has labored tirelessly to bring her husband’s case to justice. She won a landmark negligence ruling against the Ukrainian government from the European Court of Human Rights in November 2005.

Tamar Gurchiani is a visiting fellow at the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington, DC. She has been working for the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association for six years. There, she coordinates several projects focusing on transparency and accountability issues, including the Georgian Media Legal Defense Center, which is part of the association. Gurchiani has published several reports on freedom of information issues in Georgia and has contributed to reports for Studio Monitor (an investigative journalists’ group) and the Georgian Regional Media Association, among other media organizations. She has served as a trainer on human rights for the Academy of the Ministry of Interior of Georgia, for which she developed a training manual for police. Gurchiani also conducted several trainings and seminars for the Legal Education Support Foundation, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Council of Europe, among others. She earned her master’s degree from William and Mary Law School and her bachelor’s degree from the Department of Law at Tbilisi State University.

Josh Machleder is Internews’ vice president for Europe and Eurasia programs. Machleder has 12 years of experience in international development, including five years working for Internews as a country director and, later, regional manager in Central Asia, and two years in Southeast Asia. He has worked for the Open Society Institute, IREX, and was an Alfa Fellow in Moscow in 2005–2006. Prior to working for Internews, Machleder worked in TV and radio production in New York. Machleder holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Columbia University. He speaks English, Russian, Hebrew, and French.

Rich McClear is the chief of party for IREX’s Serbia Media Assistance Program, where he has focused on moving the program’s traditional media partners into new media platforms, including working on ways to monetize news organizations’ websites, helping local TV stations produce live local coverage using mobile phone networks, and delivering radio and TV over the Internet and through mobile phone applications. McClear has worked with IREX for more than 14 years, including running the Serbia media program from 1999 to 2001. He also headed media development programs in Albania, Montenegro, and Slovakia and worked as a consultant for IREX in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. McClear has been a broadcaster for more than 45 years, and before joining IREX he developed community radio stations and networks in northern Minnesota and Alaska. He earned his master’s degree in speech communications from the University of Minnesota and bachelor’s degree in political science from St. Olaf College.

Leon Morse is an international media development specialist with more than 10 years of experience working with and living in developing countries. At IREX, he manages the Media Sustainability Index and was part of the team responsible for developing the MSI’s underlying methodology. His past work with IREX includes managing USAID-funded media development projects in several southeast European countries, including Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. He is well versed in press freedom issues and the state of media development around the world, particularly in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.

About the moderator:

Nadia Diuk serves as vice president of programs for Europe and Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). For more than 20 years prior to her appointment as vice president, she supervised NED programs and strategies in what was then known as Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and, later, as Eurasia. Prior to her appointment at the NED she taught Soviet politics and Russian history at Oxford University; was a research associate at the Society for Central Asian Studies in England; and was editor-in-chief of the London-based Soviet Nationality Survey. Diuk is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She earned her master’s degree in Russian and East European studies and her doctorate in modern history from St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford.

*Note: Meg Gaydosik’s comments will reflect her own opinions and experiences. They will not represent the opinions or policies of USAID.