Journalism professor publishes new study on press freedom
Aug. 31, 2012 - Edward Alwood, professor of journalism, published a study in the summer edition of the International Communications Research Journal titled "Speak No Evil" that examines press freedom in Bulgaria. He conducted the study while teaching at the American University in Bulgaria as a Fulbright Scholar.
Several of Alwood's students in Bulgaria helped him retrieve articles from newspapers and translate the articles into English. They also served as translators whenever he interviewed Bulgarian journalists who did not speak English. They were excited to learn how academic research is conducted and they learned some things about their own country that they had not known.
Bulgaria adopted constitutional protection for the press in 1991 after the fall of communism. The country reaffirmed that protection when it joined the European Union (EU) in 2007. But this study found reports of attacks on 45 journalists between 1991 and 2011. One journalist had acid thrown in her face. Another was attacked by a group of thugs who beat him with hammers. The journalists had worked on stories that criticized either the police or the Bulgarian Mafia and the attacks were retribution.
The findings of the study are important because they show that EU membership failed to stem a rise in crime and corruption aimed at the press. Though Bulgaria claims to have a free press, my study argues that threats of physical attacks, bombings, and even murder aimed at journalists stifle press freedom. However, it also found that EU membership ultimately may produce financial pressures that will convince Bulgaria to provide journalists with greater protection.