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WASHINGTON, July 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- IREX's latest Europe & Eurasia Media Sustainability Index (MSI) finds that new media sources are rapidly replacing traditional outlets as the preferred source of news. A decade after online media began sapping the advertising revenue of traditional outlets in the West, these same trends are now washing across the region to the east, undermining business models as they go. See www.irex.org for the full report.
No matter why the audience migrates online or to satellite television - whether in search of content that is cheaper, fresher, more targeted, sensational, or crowd-sourced—the traditional media are left behind with a smaller audience.
As circulation and advertising revenues fall, expenditures on newsgathering, journalist salaries, and training have fallen in step. As such, professionalism and business health have now fallen consistently since 2008. In Bulgaria, one panelist described the competition as "ferocious," with low-quality, free news websites proliferating and leaving a grim picture for traditional journalists and their employers. Several country studies found reporters working two or three jobs to survive, frantically rewriting an original story several ways for several outlets.
Even the advantages typically associated with the new media revolution were questioned, as in Ukraine, where one panelist noted that an increase in Internet news outlets did not create an increase in objectivity.
The most telling evidence of new media's relevance in Eurasia is the attention paid to it by the region's leaders and elites. A court in Kazakhstan shuttered online video news website Stan TV, among others, for covering deadly clashes between striking oil workers and security forces. Other Central Asian governments routinely block new media outlets, the source of nearly all independent news and commentary in that region.
Kosovo and Croatia were the best performers; with Croatia's recent EU accession its performance next year will be telling: Bulgaria and Romania have regressed steadily since joining. Moldova was another bright spot, continuing to improve since a change of government in 2010. Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Belarus remain among the worst performers.
The U.S. Agency for International Development funds the Europe and Eurasia MSI in 21 countries. Other editions cover over 60 countries across Africa and the Middle East. The MSI is a trusted evaluation of global media health, providing donors, media advocates, local professionals, and scholars a decade of rich data.
Jennifer Nevin, Communications Director, IREX