This profile was prepared when Pavel Cincera was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
In the absence of truly neutral, fact-based environmental journalism in former Soviet countries, Pavel brings into mainstream media the first fact-based online portal focusing on environmental issuesekolist.cz. Pavel recognizes that an environmental movement can only be effective if large numbers of citizens are engaged and involvedand that doing so requires creating an information platform that is objective, credible, and participative.Pavel s web portal provides accurate and real time news about environmental issues. It also provides a discussion platform for readers to share opinions and perspectives as well as an open-source database for users to publish or search for living green advice. Through the experience of interacting with news for the first time, ekolist.cz users go from being passive recipients of news to active users and even generators of news and knowledge. However, the ekolist.cz experience does not stop here. To help users move from participatory online users of news to participatory citizens in society, Pavel has rooted the ekolist.cz community around the shared value of objectivity. From the moment users engage with ekolist.cz, whether they are readers, editors or journalists, they are interacting with unbiased and independent media. Pavel therefore recognizes that an objective, journalistic approach to environmental issues actually serves the ends of environmental advocacy; people are more likely to engage with environmental issues if they understand all sides of the problem.To ensure the objectivity of his web platform, and therefore create a safe space for varying opinions and healthy debate, Pavel develops a strict code of conduct for his editors. He also applies a set of security measures that ensure journalists have the freedom to portray fact-based information. One such measure is a technology that prevents the website from the invasion of search robots sent by other Internet sites. It is the first time that an environmental movement, let alone a citizen sector organization in the region, is applying such commercial IT tools. He also utilizes public opinion applications that allow him to analyze and segment his users, enabling him to reach the most influential groups of citizens.By improving access to Internet-based environmental news, Pavel addresses the broader issue of the role of the Internet as a democratic medium in societies where access to the World Wide Web is limited by the government and by poor technical abilities. By using a nonaligned, concrete and recognized issue, such as environmental protection, and portraying it in an objective manner, ekolist.cz is essentially teaching users how to be aware and active members of democracy. Pavel is now using his journalistic approach to environmentalism to further build the foundations for democracy in other ex-Soviet countries. With his learnings, he has begun to provide technical assistance and knowledge on building partnerships and engaging citizens to citizen organizations in Central Europe as well as in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan.