College of Communication and Information PhD student Teodora Trifonova and Journalism and Electronic Media Assistant Professor Joy Jenkins were awarded the highly competitive Collaborative Scholars Grant by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. They will be studying the experiences of Eastern European foreign correspondents reporting on the war in Ukraine.
Trifonova, who is from Bulgaria and works as a reporter for the country’s leading TV network, said she wants to explore how journalists from seven countries are covering the Ukraine war because it aligns with her interest in research around foreign correspondents as well as freedom of the press in Eastern Europe. The countries included in this study are Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Hungary, and Serbia, all of which were once part of the Soviet bloc and have been heavily influenced by Russia for decades. While some of these countries are working toward more democratic politics, Trifonova noted many are ranked low on the Press Freedom Index.
“We’ll use a comparative approach internationally, and we’ll investigate working practices of foreign correspondents from small media outlets from these seven countries, but also look at the role of the journalists about keeping the public well-informed about the war in Ukraine and the spread of misinformation and disinformation about the war,” Trifonova said.
Jenkins said most of the grant funding will be used to cover transcriptions for the interviews and Trifonova’s travel expenses to conduct the interviews. She noted one major advantage in taking on this research is Trifonova’s existing contacts with foreign correspondents due to her role as a journalist in Bulgaria, making it easier to recruit participants for the study.
“What distinguishes the project is that it’s internationally comparative and looking at countries that are often overlooked in these types of studies,” Jenkins said. “ We will look at how they are covering a war but with this added challenge of dealing with propaganda and misinformation and disinformation.”
Jenkins said they will also delve into any issues the correspondents may face from political pressure, or from their superiors and their audiences, as they report on the war.
Jenkins and Trifonova will share preliminary findings from their research at the 2023 AEJMC conference in Washington, D.C..