ESTONIA. Critical junctures in the media transformation process.



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




The structural conditions (media laws and organizations, general and professional education) provide good preconditions for deliberative communication in Estonia. Since the 1990s, Estonia has been characterized by a high degree of freedom of expression and information, rapid tech-nological development in terms of media consumers as well as news providers, and a relatively high degree of media literacy as well as efficient education system (e.g., high results in Pisa tests; University of Tartu has reached among the top 250 universities in the world in 2022). The critical junctures that have the strongest impact on the developments in journalism domain relate to Estonia’s independence in 1991 and consecutive transformation of the whole media system. The next critical juncture took place in 2004 when Estonia joined the European Union. There are also other major changes concerning journalism and media, that have determined the Estonian path of development. Estonia's small media system and journalists’ job market are vulnerable as the number of em-ployers is limited; resources are also scarce for investigative journalism and thorough data processing. In the second half of the second decade of the 21st century, pressure on freedom of expression and transparency has increased step by step. Changes occur gradually and may go unnoticed. In particular, journalists are standing for the transparency of society. The risks are increased by a situation where data on the situation is collected not in the public interest but in private interests. The data on media usage are collected by private companies with the purpose of selling it to advertisers and media companies. Therefore, the existing data consist of the statistics about the consumption of various programmes and channels. There is no knowledge about the other aspects of media usage, for example, the composition of media rep-ertoires of diverse groups of media users, which is vitally important from the perspective of deliberative communication. At the same time, since the second half of the second decade of the 21st century, the press has overcome the economic crisis, the number of digital orders has risen, and many agents are involved in supporting the development of children's and young people's media literacy.