Investigative journalism in Central and Eastern Europe: autonomy, business models and democratic roles

2016-09-09T11:00:17Z (GMT) by Vaclav Stetka Henrik Ornebring
This article presents a comparative study of investigative journalism in nine countries in the Central and Eastern European region (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia). The purpose is descriptive and analytical. Descriptively, the article charts the presence and provision of investigative journalism across the region and inventories and assesses the various funding forms that exist against the background of the recent (2008-2009) financial crisis. Analytically, the article focuses on assessing the relative autonomy (defined as autonomy from external actors) and effects (defined as the removal from office and sentencing of political actors revealed to be engaged in legal and moral transgressions, commonly various forms of corruption). The article finds investigative journalism across the region in general to be weak in terms of autonomy and effects, but stronger in countries that have had more stable and richer media markets (notably Estonia, Poland, and the Czech Republic). The article further finds that in some countries (notably Romania and Bulgaria), alternative news online sources play an increasingly important role as providers of investigative journalism.