Latest News from Transitions (TOL)

Past Events

Getting to know the new neighbors

No matter what country you come from, it’s always good manners when new neighbors move in to invite them over to get to know them and let them get to know you.

It was in this spirit that Transitions and its partners put together the culmination of our

Next in Line project with a series of panel discussions to let journalists from prospective EU members speak with journalists from current EU states about the realities of the EU’s enlargement policies. The events took place in front of audiences in each of the capitals of the four Visegrad countries.

Four journalists from Albania, Serbia, Turkey, and Bosnia (Besar Likmeta, Igor Jovanovic, Deniz Ergurel, and Danka Savic, respectively) traveled in pairs to participate in these talks and spend time in the newsrooms of partner publications and visit think tanks and national parliaments.  Besar and Igor went to Warsaw and Prague, while Deniz and Danka visited Budapest and Bratislava.

Deniz, a journalist from Turkey and secretary general of a media association, said the experience was eye-opening. “I spent the whole week meeting with very interesting people and seeing places that I have never had the chance to see in my life,” he said. “I really appreciated this opportunity.”

Deniz was also prolific in writing about his experiences with the Next in Line project

in Hungary and in Slovakia for his personal blog (in Turkish). He was particularly impressed by local alternative funding models for news publications, such as Piano Media’s paywall system, and thought that these may also be applicable back in Turkey.

The event in Prague with Besar and Igor was live broadcast on the Next in Line website, and video from the discussion can still be seen here. The Next in Line project, co-funded by the EU and the Erste Foundation, is a journalism project aimed at bringing candidate and potential candidate countries for EU membership closer to audiences in Central Europe and other member states.

TOL Middle Europa columnist gets top European prize

We’re thrilled this month to announce that Martin Ehl, one of our longtime contributors and columnists, won this year’s Writing for Central and Eastern Europe prize, awarded by the APA – Austria Press Agency in cooperation with Bank Austria.

Martin, the foreign editor and columnist at the Czech daily Hospodarske Noviny, was given the award this month in Vienna for a series of pieces he wrote for his newspaper that TOL translated and published as part of Martin’s weekly column, Middle Europa. Martin’s insightful, and sometimes brutally clever, writing has been a staple here at Transitions Online, and we look forward to his column as much as many of our readers. Martin won for two pieces: “No Longer So Powerless” in February and “Moving the Goal Posts” in May.

The award goes each year to journalists and authors whose work encourages European integration and does it in style. “Martin Ehl shows us how entertaining sophisticated, high-quality journalism can be,” jury chairman Ambros Kindel said in a press release, explaining this year’s choice.

“It my first journalistic prize ever, so I am very pleased,” Martin told us. “Because I got it abroad and on the basis of a decision of an international jury, I consider it to be truly European,” he said. “And thanks to TOL, I feel I have a real international audience and good editors, who give me feedback helping me to improve my own work.”

Helping them say it in their own words

We here at TOL are huge supporters of the idea of giving journalists around the region the tools to get their stories out. Whether they are professional or citizen journalists, they should have the skills and the means to say what they want, how they want to say it.

That’s why this month we’re proud our Central Asian team is releasing a localized version of the popular blogging platform WordPress into Kyrgyz. With this localization, bloggers can publish in their native language. The team is in discussions with the WordPress community to get this version included in theofficial localizations list.

So far this project, supported by the United Nations Democracy Fund, has seen the completion of several localizations of Skype, including into Kyrgyz and Uzbek (and soon Tajik/Farsi), but this is the first time WordPress has been localized into any of these languages.

The Kyrgyz translation, like its Skype predecessor, was coordinated by Bishkek journalist and former TOL intern Ilya Lukasz. We featured Ilya in our newsletter a few months ago, and we’re glad to see him continuing with his great work. Last year, Ilya gave an interesting interview to (Russian) on the process of localization and why it’s so important.

Localization matters in the region: without it users are forced to choose between English or Russian, which poses geopolitical as well as practical issues, by giving the appearance that users are aligning themselves with the English- or Russian-speaking world.

With the release of WordPress in Kyrgyz, local bloggers now have a third option: their own language.

Featured Articles

Transitions Online ( often showcases the work produced through our grant programs.  Some of the highlights from October include the following stories:

1 October 2012
The Hardest Working Man in (Kazakh) Showbiz
Barely out of film school, a dogged young director brings a fantastical production to the country’s screens. Fourth in a series.
By Dariya Tsyrenzhapova

5 October 2012
In Moldova, HIV and Closed Doors
People with HIV/AIDS face the kind of ignorance and discrimination, even from their doctors, that should by now be history.
By Natalia Ghilascu

10 October 2012
Uzbekistan’s Hidden Theaters
Some of Central Asia’s best theater is going on behind the scenes – and over considerable odds.
By Dengiz Uralov

12 October 2012
Jailhouse, Rocked
A prison abuse scandal in Georgia has brought down an administration and brought up uncomfortable questions about the justice system.
By Maia Edilashvili

18 October 2012
Is Recent Violence in Kazakhstan Linked to Succession Struggles?
Implausible explanations, an information vacuum, and a credibility gap give rise to political theories.
By Askar Erkebaev

19 October 2012
In Albania, Madrasas Even the Secular Love
A Turkish-based Islamic movement committed to interfaith dialogue, globalization, and making money is changing the face of the country’s school system.
By Ky Krauthamer

22 October 2012
The Prankster of the Belarusian Opposition
Paval Vinahradau has devoted most of his young life and considerable sense of humor to challenging ‘Europe’s last dictatorship.’
By Alaksandra Dynko

24 October 2012
In Kyrgyzstan, Political Satire Is a Hot Ticket
In the turbulent Central Asian nation, only satirists are allowed to openly joke about top officials, making political comedians and the shows that highlight them more popular than ever.
By Dina Tokbaeva

25 October 2012
Teachers in Double Jeopardy
A new law to purge Russian schools of criminal offenders is destroying the careers of many valued educators.
By Galina Stolyarova

31 October 2012
Dressing for Success in Tashkent
While much of Uzbekistan picks cotton, fashion-forward designers show a different side of the country, with the Karimov regime’s support. A TOL slide show.
By Dengiz Uralov

Current Projects

Azerbaijan and Moldova
Promoting the use of new media and social media among journalists, civil society organizations, and young people.
Training journalists to cover issues related to the environment.
Central Asia
Promoting the use of Internet media and new media techniques to produce, promote, and distribute new forms of content.
Improving the quality of environmental investigative journalism while increasing the impact of the environmental movement in Russia.
Education Reporting
Using distance learning courses, workshops, and other resources to improve reporting on education-related topics.
Roma Multimedia Training
Training Roma and majority community journalists in multimedia story-telling, with a special focus on Roma issues.

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