It’s been an exciting but bumpy ride for the independent press in Eastern Europe in recent years. In the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, things got a bit bumpier this summer: The editorial staff of the Riga-based Baltic Times, an English-language newspaper that covers all three countries, quit en masse in late July because they hadn’t been paid in four months and say they were being forced to write articles that favored advertisers, reports Latvians Online.
The encouraging thing is that they did what used to be nearly impossible: They launched a rival publication within weeks.
“Baltic Reports, which was officially launched today [August 25], is an independent online media portal established by former staff of the Baltic Times,” editor Kate McIntosh wrote in an e-mail to supporters.
“We had a disagreement with Riga staff journalists” was the understated characterization of the dispute by Baltic Times managing editor Sergey Alekseyev in an e-mail to Latvians Online. Alekseyev said the publication will continue.
In announcing their resignations, the ex-staff at the Baltic Times acknowledged financial pressures played a role in the drama–but so did journalistic standards: “While we appreciate that these are hard times economically for business and companies, we felt that it was no longer possible to continue to produce a professional product under such circumstances.”