Tag Archives: RFERL

Behind the Scenes: Aladin Telalagic and Kim Conger

Earlier this month, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) hosted Innovating at the Speed of News, a digital innovation expo highlighting the tools that the BBG uses to reach and engage audiences worldwide. One of the featured innovations was Pangea, a next-generation content management system (CMS), which is used across four of the BBG’s broadcasting networks and was developed by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

Aladin Telalagic and Kim Conger visit RFE/RL’s offices in Washington, D.C.

Aladin Telalagic: “My proudest moment while working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty came when I received an email from André Mendes stating that Pangea was selected to be the platform for shared content management among the BBG’s broadcasters.

I have personally been working on Pangea since 1998 when we published the first version; it is now in its sixth edition. One of the reasons why Pangea is so useful is that it’s tailored for journalists. We set up three teams that looked at the CMS of the other entities and analyzed them for their technological, usability and financial elements.  Technological considerations included the scalability and reliability of the CMS, usability looked at how the user would interact with an agency’s website and the financial team considered the costs of content management.  We wanted to make sure that everyone’s voice was heard and that all opinions were taken into consideration.  As a result, Pangea is efficient and user-friendly.”

Kim Conger:  “I have worked on the Pangea platform with Aladin since 2005. It has been very rewarding to be a part of a product that has such an impact on RFE/RL’s — and now the BBG’s — mission. The RFE/RL Digital team is a very talented group of people who enjoy what we do and work very well together. We’re like a family and are fiercely protective of that. Aladin and I work very hard to get the right people with the right talent and temperament to get the job done.”

Aladin: “In addition to enabling content sharing, Pangea also makes economic sense. In this atmosphere of sequestration, we saved BBG over $1 million.  The websites are also more responsive to users.

Pangea provides the backbone for around 200 of the BBG broadcasters’ websites, including those of Voice America, Radio and TV Martí, and Middle Eastern Broadcasting Networks.  It also hosts the Global News Dashboard, mobile platforms for each entity and Showcase.  The tech team regularly updates Showcase with new training materials and design planning tools. The various BBG agencies can use the site to train themselves to use Pangea and see what their agency’s site would look like on the Pangea platform with their own branding.

The BBG has also accepted our vision for the development of mobile software.  We have spent two years analyzing the Android and iOs markets for RFE/RL and the other agencies are cloning our code to use.

On a personal level, the selection of Pangea was also very gratifying. I joined the team in 1999 as a maintenance engineer, moved up to department programmer, and now I work as the Director.  My team is very dedicated and put a lot of time and energy into the project.

I also feel personally accountable for the security of the websites hosted by Pangea.  When the Russian Government attacked RFE/RL’s website, I worked more than 24 hours to block their interference. It’s our responsibility to protect the data on the servers.  The language services, clearly, are a target.”

Kim: “The BBG has faith that our team is up to the challenge. We are meeting that challenge and it’s gratifying.”


Aladin Telalagic, Director of Internet Technology, and Kim Conger, Deputy Director,  helped create Pangea, RFE/RL‘s best-in-class content management system. Pangea now serves four of the BBG’s broadcasters. By migrating content into a shared management system, BBG has improved coordination and interoperability among our broadcasters, reduced systems duplication, and expanded in-house capability.


Voices from the Field: Irina Gotisan

The Vaclav Havel Fellowship is a joint program between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that is inspired by the former president’s belief in the transformational role of journalism in challenging tyranny. It provides direct work experience and mentoring at RFE/RL’s Prague headquarters to journalists from countries in RFE/RL’s broadcast region where media freedom is stifled. More information about the program can be found here.

Irina Gotisan, left, talks with other 2013 Vaclav Havel Fellow Tahmina Taghiyeva, center, and John Todoroki of the Prague Freedom Foundation, right.

“Before receiving the Vaclav Havel Fellowship at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, I was a reporter at the national TV channel from the Republic of Moldova, Moldova 1. A reform was in progress here when I joined the news room in May 2010 that was attempting to transform the outlet from a propaganda tool by the former ruling Party of Communists to a genuine modern news room, competing with private TV stations.

I was conscious about all of the difficulties at Moldova 1, but I wanted to be part of this reform and contribute.

As a reporter at Moldova 1, I mainly covered political topics, and I produced short informative reportages during electoral campaigns. It was difficult to try to regain the confidence of Moldova 1’s viewers. Sometimes it was difficult to obtain interviews. Sometimes when I tried to speak to people in the street, they would refuse to talk to me because of the microphone I was carrying, saying that I was representing ‘the Communist’s TV.’

The new management together with a new team of editors, presenters and reporters had to work hard to restore the public trust in the main news program, Mesager – The Messenger. The task was difficult enough because some colleagues who used to work at the station during the communist regime and embraced Communist ideology tried to resist the reform. Despite the resistance, the efforts of the new team to regain the confidence of our public and to present truthful journalism at the public national channel were appreciated by the EU, the OSCE, and the U.S. State Department, as well as local media NGOs.


Seda Stepanyan, center, joined Gotisan and Taghiyeva in the studios of the Washington, DC bureau of Bloomberg News on April 8, 2013. The three women won 2013 Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellowships.

The Vaclav Havel Fellowship represents a good opportunity for me to know more about documentary films. Even though Radio Free Europe produces short video features and not documentaries, but I have the possibility to learn more about how to identify an interesting topic, how to shoot and how to edit the video. Also, a very interesting experience for me was the radio journalism, because I only knew how to do television reporting. Through this fellowship, I met a lot of interesting persons.  I visited new places in the world, and I enriched myself not only professionally, but also spiritually.

After this fellowship I plan to bring my contribution to developing the new advocacy and production department at the Independent Journalism Centre back home. I also want to improve my skills and knowledge in documentary production.       

I hope that, one day, the Moldovan mass media will be appreciated as a free one in the Freedom House reports. I am also optimistic that one day the journalists from my country will be more courageous and will do more investigative materials about corruption and social issues and, after that, the persons responsible for some wrong doings, especially politicians, will be punished.

I hope that journalists will not allow anybody to influence them and that our politicians will understand that mass media is a watchdog and not a puppy with which they can play games.


Irina Gotisan, a journalist specializing in visual media and documentary film, is fulfilling her fellowship in Prague with RFE/RL’s Moldova Service. From 2010-2012, Gotisan worked as a reporter covering political and social issues for TV Moldova 1, a national, public television channel. A recipient of the Chisinau Press Club’s “Hope of the Year” award in 2010, Gotisan has held several journalism internships, including one with AICI Network, a media program funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). In 2006, Gotisan joined the International Relations faculty at “Perspectiva International” University in Chisinau, where she taught courses on globalization and international relations. Gotisan is a 2012 graduate of the Television School in Bucharest, Romania and holds a Masters degree from the Academy of Public Administration in Chisinau.

RFE/RL Celebrates Havel Fellows, Discusses Press Freedom in Eastern Europe

 David Kramer directs questions to the Havel Fellows Gotisan (left), Stepanyan (center) and Taghiyeva (right) during a panel discussion April 9


Media freedom was celebrated last night as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty held a panel discussion entitled “Media Freedom in the European Neighborhood: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova” last night, April 9, 2013, at the Embassy of the Czech Repulblic that featured this year’s recipients of the Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellowship.

Havel fellows, Seda Stepanyan from Armenia, Tahmina Taghiyeva from Azerbaijan, and Irina Gotisan from Moldova, served as panelists and discussed the freedom of press in their own countries. The event was moderated by David Kramer, President of Freedom House, which compiles an annual report, Freedom in the World, on the state of global freedom.

The Fellows also presented videos that they had produced, demonstrating their excellent journalism and multimedia skills.  Following the presentations and a round of questions prompted by Kramer, the discussion was opened up to the audience.

Gotisan responded that she and the other Fellows could be optimistic about the future because they are, “young and smart” when an audience member asked about the potential for increased freedom in Eastern Europe. Each of the Fellows agreed that the legacy of the Cold War and their nations’ transition to democracy still play a role in the level of freedom enjoyed, but they were also enthusiastic that programs like the Havel Fellowship helped to encourage objective journalism.

Fellows Gotisan and Taghiyeva discuss press freedom with John Todoroki of the Prague Freedom Foundation


This is the second year in which Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has awarded the Havel Fellowship. This year’s recipients have extensive experience working in journalism in their home countries.  The program is open to promising journalists with English fluency from the Russian Federation and the European Partnership Countries: Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova.  Fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis and offer on-the-job training alongside RFE/RL’s seasoned professionals.