12 to 18 September 2015, Potsdam, Germany

Since 2009, the European Union has maintained political, economic, and social relations with the countries of the Eastern Partnership – Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan – with the goal of promoting and further expanding these relationships. However, none of these countries can today be described as flawless democracies. Most of them are authoritarian regimes, in which democratic structures serve largely as a facade. Media conditions in these countries reflect this situation; instead of free media independent of state influence, there are pseudo-free media organisations that are in reality directed by the state, and which try to manipulate the population on behalf of their governments’ interests. In addition, there are institutions that appear from the outside to be independent (so-called GONGOs, or government-operated non-governmental organisations), which try – often successfully – to disguise the authoritarian policies in their countries and present them in a better light.

The situation in the Ukraine is somewhat different. The prominent role played by propaganda in the political-military conflict between Russia and the Ukraine has become increasingly clear. “In the war of words, Ukraine has become the battlefield. Russian propaganda is Putin’s sharpest weapon,” writes DIE ZEIT. American historian Timothy Snyder has described how – and how dramatically – Russian propaganda has distorted the world’s picture of Ukraine, and what role the media has played in this regard. But on the Ukrainian side too, the events in Ukraine, Russia, and Crimea are filtered through propaganda with an anti-Russian, pro-Western viewpoint.

For journalists from these nations who want to avoid producing propaganda or serving as a government mouthpiece, work in their home countries is difficult. The information environment is generally far from transparent, with propaganda difficult to distinguish from genuine news. Opportunities for training and career growth are modest, and the degree of repression and threat is high.

Project goal

The M100 Young European Journalists Workshop 2015, encompassing all the countries of the Eastern Partnership but with a particular focus on Ukraine, examines the use of propaganda instruments and the manipulation and intimidation of journalists, as well as the effects on the reputation of the media, on the population at large, and on the relationships between the countries. The goal is to teach participants (a total of 25 from the above-noted countries as well as Germany, all between the ages of 18 and 26, please find the application call here) how propaganda functions and what its objectives are, how it can be recognised, how to verify information (including within social networks), and how as journalists they can defend themselves against propaganda, co-optation and manipulation by governments and lobbyists. Participants will also share their own experiences, discussing threats and influences they may be exposed to in their own work, and the way that propaganda functions and is deployed in their own countries. The workshop is taught by the political scientist, journalist and Co-Director of the Institute of Media and Communications Policy, Dr. Leonard Novy, and the journalist, author and award winning film maker Christian Stahl.

The project strengthens networks between these countries’ civil societies by bringing together young journalists to exchange experiences and be trained in the processes of democracy, press freedom, the freedom of speech, and the craft of journalism.

The M100 Young European Journaliusts Workshop is an initiative of the city of Potsdam and Potsdam Media International e.V.. It is supported by the Federal Foreign Office and takes place in co-operation with the European Youth Press, YanukovychLeaks and the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.


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