Starr Forum: Autocracy’s Assault on Press Freedom

Thursday, February 03, 2022 at 12:00pm to 1:15pm

Virtual Event

Experts discuss the threat to free media in Central and Eastern Europe and what it means for the West

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Thirty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, freedom of press is under siege in Poland, Hungary, and Russia. A strong undercurrent of anti-democratic sentiments permeates the public life of all three countries, jeopardizing the integrity of facts and consequently the integrity of elections. To authoritarian regimes, independent journalism is almost synonymous with crime. The crackdown on free media has intensified over the past years and should be viewed as a harbinger for the rest of Europe and the US. The panelists offer not only their regional expertise, but their personal experiences of practicing journalism under such challenging conditions.  Read more



Ada Petriczko is a freelance journalist and foreign correspondent from Poland, covering women’s rights, social justice and culture. She was awarded the 2021 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship by the International Women’s Media Foundation, which provides research opportunities at MIT and further journalist training at the Boston Globe and the New York Times. She holds degrees from Goldsmiths College in London, the University of Warsaw, and the Polish School of Reportage.



Valerie Hopkins is the New York Times' Moscow correspondent. Until recently, she was South-East Europe Correspondent for the Financial Times, based in Budapest. Before moving to Moscow, she spent a decade covering the Balkans. Her work has also appeared in The GuardianThe AtlanticThe Washington PostForeign PolicyMother JonesPolitico Europe and elsewhere. She has an MA in journalism from Columbia University and a BA in international relations from the College of William and Mary.

Paulina Milewska is a media expert and a lawyer.  She works as senior advisor for the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom. She is currently a PhD researcher at the European University Institute in Florence and Fellow of German Marshall Fund's Rethink.CEE program. She used to work for the biggest quality newspaper in Poland - Gazeta Wyborcza and she worked on a joint project with the US Embassy in Warsaw. She has served as a board member for various NGOs. 

Veronika Munk is a Hungarian journalist, founding editor-in-chief, and head of content development of one of the largest Hungarian independent online news dailys, Telex. She was the deputy editor-in-chief at Index online news daily, where she has worked for 18 years, until she quit in July 2020 with her 80+ colleagues because the conditions for their independent journalistic operation were no longer in place. She has a media studies PhD and teaches courses on journalism at ELTE University, the largest Hungarian university.

Co-sponsors:  MIT Center for International Studies (CIS)


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