A journalist’s efforts to dismantle the Soviet Union’s legacy of media censorship in his country

AJ Contrast
AJ Contrast
Published in
9 min readMay 30, 2019

Lithuania isn’t known for having a strong independent media tradition, but a group of journalists — who are ready to take risks — are changing that.

If you’ve been familiar with our work at Contrast, you already know that we take great pride in fostering, supporting and growing a global network of 360 video journalists and innovative storytellers.

Karolis Vyšniauskas — a journalist from Vilnius paving the way forward for independent media and relational journalism in Lithuania. © Ilmė Vyšniauskaitė

This has led us to the work of Karolis Vyšniauskas — a journalist who is paving the way forward for independent media and relational journalism in Lithuania. (A key concept behind relational journalism is the notion of relational engagement: journalism that focuses on engaging with people as members of communities, not just as “audiences.”)

Lithuania, a country of nearly 3 million people in Eastern Europe, has spent half of the 20th century under the Soviet Union rule, which meant severe restrictions on speech and press freedoms. During this time, journalists’ voices were controlled by the government and independent publications were essentially non-existent. Since Lithuania’s independence in 1990, the country has generally enjoyed high levels of press freedom but some journalists — like Karolis —have been pushing further towards higher quality independent storytelling.

Karolis is a dedicated member of Nanook, a journalists’ collective aiming to “reinvent journalism in the Baltics.” Nanook is made up of 15 young journalists — filmmakers, photographers, and writers — who all began their careers after the country’s 2008 economic crisis. They’ve already produced some great work about their country. Their very first project conducted in 2016 — an in-depth multimedia feature on what it’s like inside Lithuania’s only women’s prison — was published on Al Jazeera.

The nearly 15 journalists that make up Lithuania’s Nanook collective. © Nanook Multimedia

At Nanook, Karolis hosts and edits Nyla, the first Lithuanian podcast supported by its listeners. In Lithuania, podcasts are a relatively new phenomenon. Despite the country’s unfamiliarity with this…

AJ Contrast
AJ Contrast

@AlJazeera's immersive media studio. VR/AR/360. Pioneering storytelling and technology empowering award-winning journalism. Email: contrast@aljazeera.net