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What happened to the news quality in the States and in Britain in the 1980s (and perhaps earlier) and 1990s is happening now to Eastern and Central Europe. So while we may have more people here in the west who have grown up to mediocre news coverage, and the fusion of news and entertainment, in the east, this phenomena is just unfolding.
European readers will not be surprised to learn that Newsroom Magazine’s widest overseas readership is Europe. Not just western Europe, but Eastern and Central Europe as well. More the point, while Newsroom’s overall European readership continues to grow, the number of visitors from former Soviet bloc nations might better be described as exploding.
Earlier this year, the growth in Newsroom’s European readership was the subject of an internal discussion. Our conversations led to compelling new insight into why — largely provided by Newsroom Magazine contributor George Manev who grew up in what is now known as The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We thought Manev’s analysis worthy of sharing with our world-wide readership.
When Publisher Robert Butche wondered why Eastern and Central European readers significantly outnumber those from Spain, Italy, France and Germany, Manev spoke about his roots based on having become bi-cultural by way of his educational experiences at Michigan State University.
Thoughts On Newsroom Magazine’s Growing European Readership
In the last decade, entertainment values have spread far beyond U. S. media. American culture and media are felt world-wide. No one should be surprised that failing journalistic standards that have so badly damaged American news media — especially broadcast — travel elsewhere. Let me assure you that the entertainment values afflicting American media are already spreading across Central and Eastern Europe.
Some of the reasons for increasing numbers of Central and Eastern European readers could be the lack of local media who talk about the issues that newsroom magazine covers — especially in their own respective languages. With the implementation of Newsrooms translation capabilities, people are a click away from and easily able to choose and read what they want – so convenience matters. Some of it could be that the breadth of subject matter, and clarity of presentation — especially in its coverage of the downfall of news, investigative journalism, relevance, probity etc — rings true to readers in the east than in the west.
What happened to news quality in the States and in Britain in the 1980s ( and perhaps earlier ) and 1990s is happening now to Eastern and Central Europe. So while we may have more people here in the west who have become accustomed up to mediocre news coverage, and the fusion of news and entertainment, in the east, this phenomena is still unfolding.
Cultural And Historical Roots
Another point to consider is that recent historical events matter – a free, relevant and probative press has been the bedrock leading to political, social and economic change in eastern and central Europe. The fall of the Berlin wall and its effect on Europe for example, still feels like yesterday in many of those countries. As such, the topic of news and its evolution, is of unique importance to those in the east. I do not want to diminish its importance in the west, but cultural values, rule of law, working democracy and the comfort of life, to name a few, are common here in the west. So common, they tend to make us somewhat more loyal to our government — yet increasingly mistrustful of the media that covers it.
In contrast, in the east, concepts of confidence in government are far less developed, and as such the media is still viewed by many as the main watchdog over their own ( often corrupt ) governments. This paints the media as a more trustworthy resource of information. That is at least the perception.
Thus, public interest of what happens to the news media, to those in the east, especially in such important places as in the United States, should not be surprising. Because what happens with the news here, will be exported to other countries. Decisions made by powerful people in relevant places easily resonate throughout the globe in a geopolitical, social and economic sense, and as such, a vibrant media which informs the decision makers and electorate to the best extent possible is of an immense importance.
Issues Of Responsibility And Accountability
Trusting one’s own government is in a sense a good thing, if power is not abused, but if it is, it can catch people off guard and by the time they awake ( including the media ) to what is going on….say an emperor having no clothes phenomenon…it may be too late.
Keep in mind that the public realization of those in power requires a trustworthy, relevant and probative media. The problem is to avoid promoting what economists call a moral hazard in those who govern — in which there is abuse of power. For there is a clear threshold at which people ( who start with high truest in government ) turn their backs or openly challenge authority by way of probative and relevant questions.
Exactly what a free and independent press ought to be doing.