Field of Research: The effects of donor activity on the freedom of the media in post-communist East and Central Europe and Central Asia
Before starting his research at Freie Universität, Krisztian Simon used to work as a journalist at Magyar Narancs, a liberal political weekly in Hungary, and published in a number of other Hungarian, German and English language publications. He also worked for the Brussels-based Green European Foundation think tank, UNDP in Lao PDR, the European Commission in Luxembourg, and the Eurasia Foundation in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. He holds a Master of Arts degree from the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University in the City of New York.
In democratic (and democratizing) societies, journalists and media workers are the watchdogs of human rights and democracy. Training journalists and strengthening the freedom of the media is therefore an important component of international development programs. According to estimates $645 million has been spent on media development in the year 2010, which was approximately 0.5 percent of the amount spent by donors on international development. Nevertheless, no convincing evidence has yet been submitted regarding the sustainable impact of these media related activities on the freedom of the media, or on the capacities of journalists. My dissertation will therefore aim to explore the local conditions under which media development programs and journalist training can be set up, and under which they can achieve sustainable outcomes. In order to do this I will survey media workers, donors and NGO workers in a number of countries in the former Soviet Union and Central Europe. I also aim to make a claim that increased spending on media freedom projects and journalist training contributes to an increased score on press-freedom indices. But this impact is only short-term and reversible.