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04/15/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/15/2019 16:40

Havel Fellows Address Challenges Facing Journalists In Eastern Europe

WASHINGTON - Speaking at the National Endowment for Democracy on April 3, five Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellows from Eastern Europe cited the expansion of media literacy programs, training and education for journalists, and increased support for local news outlets, as measures that could help sustain independent media in their countries.

The Fellows, from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Russia, were welcomed to the NED by President Carl Gershman, who said 'we have to be alert to how important it is to defend freedom and democracy, especially in the five countries that are represented by the Havel Journalism Fellows.'

Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček affirmed the importance of journalism to any health democracy, declaring that 'support to independent media...is the best answer to some of the trends we have witnessed in recent years, like fake news, disinformation, and renewed propaganda activities.' The Foreign Ministry of the Czech Republic is a partner in the fellowship program.

While in Washington, the Havel Fellows also visited the Washington bureaus of CNN, NBC/MSNBC, and Al Jazeera; met with senior journalists at the Washington Bureau of Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism, the University of Maryland's Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, and the National Press Club; and met with senior staff at the U.S. Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the office of Rep. Francis Rooney, as well as the U.S. State Department, in addition to numerous think tanks and NGOs.

Launched in 2011 with the support of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dagmar and Vaclav Havel Foundation Vize97, the Václav Havel Journalism Fellowship (VHJF) is inspired by the late Czech leader's belief in the transformational power of free speech, and builds on RFE/RL's legacy of promoting more open societies through journalism. In 2014, RFE/RL and the ministry launched a similar program, the Jiri Dienstbier Journalism Fellowship, for aspiring, independent-minded journalists from the western Balkans.

About RFE/RL
RFE/RL relies on its networks of local reporters to provide accurate news and information to 34 million people in 26 languages and 22 countries where media freedom is restricted, or where a professional press has not fully developed. Its videos were viewed over 2.6 billion times on Facebook and YouTube in FY2018. RFE/RL is an editorially independent media company funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Joanna Levison in Prague ([email protected], +420.221.122.080)
Martins Zvaners in Washington (
[email protected], +1.202.457.6948)