Democratic backsliding and the public’s demand for reliable sources of information during the coronavirus pandemic in Central and Southeast Europe have made the search for ways to support media freedom more urgent than ever before. Emergency measures enacted in response to the pandemic in Hungary and Bulgaria have created an intimidating environment for journalists and threatened fundamental rights, including the freedom of speech, while Romania’s strict quarantine provisions have led to accusations of official infringements on individual rights and freedoms.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) relaunched its programming for Bulgaria and Romania in January 2019, and is in the process of launching a Hungarian digital service. What challenges does the coronavirus crisis pose now and in the future for already-embattled independent news outlets in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, and how are these renewed RFE/RL Services working to support free media and provide a credible middle ground for local news consumers? With help of our discussants, the webinar offers critical insights and assessments on these key questions.