Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a private, nonprofit, multimedia broadcasting corporation that serves as a surrogate media source in 28 languages and in 23 countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and Ukraine.
With headquarters in Prague, 17 local bureaus (including Moscow, Kabul, Kyiv and Islamabad), and more than 1,000 journalists throughout its broadcast region, RFE/RL’s proximity to its audiences facilitates the production of compelling, locally-oriented programming in a cost-effective manner.
Reaching more than 23.6 million people each week, RFE/RL provides what many people cannot get locally: uncensored local and regional news, responsible discussion, and open debate via radio, television, and digital media. In addition to traditional radio reporting, RFE/RL is modernizing to compete successfully in the rapidly-changing media realm. Over the course of the last year, RFE/RL has expanded its TV and video operations, livestreamed political protests and other newsworthy events, and broadened its best-in-class digital journalism operations to ensure that RFE/RL reporting is accessible to audiences across platforms.
- Budget: $92.1 million in FY2013
- Employees: 487
- Languages: 28
- Mobile Apps: available in 24 versions on Apple iOS and Android
RUSSIA: The Russian Service investigated and reported on Russia’s “troll factories,” interviewing a St. Petersburg blogger who spent two months generating comments on Internet forums in order to perpetuate a pro-Kremlin dialogue online. RFE/RL’s Moscow correspondent also reported on the Kremlin’s young army of “cybersnitches.”
UKRAINE: The Ukrainian Service’s investigative TV program, Schemes, airing in Ukraine spotlights corruption and holds officials accountable. Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau is reviewing materials gathered by the Schemes investigative team on some 15 cases to determine whether it should take action. Some of the most prominent Schemes investigations have dealt with the palatial residences of Yanukovych-era oligarchs, questionable land deals involving current President Petro Poroshenko, murky insurance contracts held by the state railway that drove up passenger ticket prices, and an investigation of the head of Ukraine’s traffic police that led to his resignation.
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan Service correspondents were among the first media on the scene of the brutal March 2015 mob lynching of a 27-year-old woman outside of a prominent mosque in Kabul. The Service went on to provide continuing coverage for the balance of the year of the controversial legal proceedings against mob leaders and participants, and the massive protests demanding justice for the victim and increased attention to the challenges faced by all women in Afghanistan’s deeply traditional society.
PAKISTAN: Radio Mashaal launched a weekly program, Towards Peace, aimed at promoting dialogue and democracy as a means of conflict resolution in the tribal regions of Pakistan. The program talks to experts, tribal leaders and other relevant stakeholders to examine ways to achieve political goals, settle disputes and solve problems through non-violent means.
MOLDOVA: Throughout the month of August 2015, the Moldovan Service, in partnership with Association of the Independent Press and UNDP Moldova, conducted a bus tour of 20 villages and towns in Moldova, as part of its project Here is Free Europe. RFE/RL journalists conducted discussions with guests, local authorities, and listeners on the problems they face, with the goal of empowering local citizens and to demonstrate the difference between independent journalism and propaganda.
NORTH CAUCASUS: As a step toward restoring Chechnya’s literary heritage, much of it destroyed during the 1940 Soviet deportations or the Russo-Chechen wars of the 1990’s, the North Caucasus Service launched an online library available for free to users with both text and audio versions of classics selected from Chechen poetry and prose, as well as works from contemporary authors.
AZERBAIJAN: The Azerbaijani Service provided extensive coverage of investigative journalist and RFE/RL contributor Khadija Ismayilova’s trial, which began on July 24. An investigative report found that since Ismayilova was detained on charges of incitement to suicide last December, no one else has been charged with the same crime – despite the fact that local media have reported at least 50 suicides in the intervening seven months (including seven among soldiers) and another 10 suicide attempts. On July 29, Ismayilova was honored at the National Press Club’s annual journalism awards with the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award.
UZBEKISTAN: In September, the Uzbek Service reported on the use of forced and child labor in the country’s massive annual cotton harvest, which has been noted by many human rights groups. The Service posted stories on the government forcing people to cancel private events and weddings, as they would be seen as a “distraction” from cotton harvesting, and on teachers being forced to pick cotton, or having to pay the equivalent of $160 to hire someone else to go to the fields in their place.
BALKANS: The Balkan Service’s multimedia feature commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, when more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces, received an overwhelming response from the international community. Faces of Srebrenica was an attempt to collect photos of all the more than 8,000 victims.
ARMENIA: The Armenian Service provided comprehensive coverage of the protests in the Armenian capital of Yerevan over the government’s decision to spike up electricity prices. On June 23, the Service was on the ground near the presidential palace when riot police used water cannons in an effort to disperse the protesters. Journalists, including RFE/RL correspondents, were targeted by police for beatings, were detained, and had their equipment confiscated. Despite the interruption to its live coverage, the Service continued to cover the protests as they evolved over the course of the week, providing breaking developments, analysis and interviews with protestors
Correspondent Janyl Chytyrbaeva received a “Highly Commended” award in the category of “Best Investigative Radio Documentary” from the Association for International Broadcasting for her report on women who had been victims of rape during the ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan in June 2010.
RFE/RL journalist Janarbek Akaev was voted Kyrgyzstan’s best TV presenter for the second year running, in a competition sponsored by Kyrgyzstan’s most popular newspaper.