This profile was prepared when Štefan Hríb was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Štefan is developing new forms of high quality independent media in Slovakia that both set a new standard of journalism and that cultivate a wide audience. In addition, he is training the next generation of journalists to lead a field that has been struggling for decades in Central Europe to remain relevant and ethical. His ultimate goal is to generate greater engagement of citizens around the core issues that affect their country, particularly among youth. Štefan believes a strong avenue for doing so—and for strengthening free democratic society—is an objective, trustworthy, and creative news source. Since the transition, media in Slovakia and throughout Central and Eastern Europe has gone from state control to corporate control—from generating government propaganda to generating tabloid celebrity stories. Over this time it has lost all credibility and is now regarded as little more than a form of entertainment. Stefan has founded a news journal and several television and radio programs as models for restoring journalism to its role as champion of meaningful democratic participation. His acclaimed weekly periodical Týždeň, is proving that journalism can be high quality, independent, objective, ethical, and still commercially sustainable. His innovation lies in the manner and style with which he presents information, pairing discussions of important social issues alongside other topics with mass appeal. All of his content is digestible and meant to encourage every citizen to think and act. Stefan’s rapid success demonstrates that the audience for quality journalism is not gone—rather, it is thirsty for ideas and avenues for engagement.