Fourth Estate

“The Fourth Estate” is a television series, which addresses the clash between power and media, thus showing the many faces of politics and journalism.

In the twelve episodes, viewers can trace an actual journalistic investigation, the main protagonists being politicians and journalists, while the plot is based on facts and events, which seem familiar due to the documentary background of many of the discussed plots. The story is built around the life of a newspaper, which endeavours to work by pursuing its own rules for independent journalism in a society overtaken by dependencies. The investigation leads to a clash between the outside and the personal world of reporters and they come to realize that they will have to choose between taking part in manipulation or stand up against it. What happens onscreen repeats life – cutthroat fight for power, dirty political games, hits below the belt, disclosure of information, pressure and desperate journalistic resistance. Illegal wiretapping, espionage, discrediting sex affair evidence, racketeering and scam are genre approaches that keep the viewers on the edge of their seats.

The series is a political thriller in which the role of secret services in manipulating social and political processes exceeds the criminal twist in the plot. The series shows the dependence of the Bulgarian political system on yet operating mechanisms of former communist secret services in Bulgaria. Viewers are ushered into the intense world of a team of journalists where ambition, competition, dependence on the past and quest for truth are dearly paid for. “The Fourth Estate” newspaper they work for wages a long and exhausting battle to expose senior government officials and their corrupted schemes. “The Fourth Estate” raises a number of ethical issues in the course of its twelve episodes: how far do we tend to go to reach our goals, what can or can’t we forgive a journalist, can a noble end justify foul means and how the media and politicians communicate between themselves in a country where it is necessary to fight so that “journalism shall remain the public voice”.

The characters in the film are the “heroes of our time”, figures, who will be invariably perceived as prototypes due to the specifics of our modern history. Viewers will see a cast of stars playing the lead roles: Hristo Shopov, Deyan Donkov, Atanas Atanasov, Samuel Fintsi, Mihail Bilalov, Ivaylo Geraskov, Vladimir Penev, Vladimir Karamazov, Mila Parusheva, Ani Papadopolou, Snezhina Petrova, Svetlana Yancheva, Alexandra Vassileva, Dessi Morales, etc.

“The Fourth Estate” is a series structured in seasons of twelve episodes each. Every season adds up another piece to the puzzle of a large-scale journalistic investigation. The main characters remain the same from a season to season, yet they have to solve different cases. Despite the fact that the script had been written and filming ended in March 2013, it is the topical context that holds the attention of viewers till the very end of the story, along with the intensity of dramatic narrative. Since June, Bulgarian civil society has been engaged in daily protest activities and the political situation in the country adds value to the project. The first season addresses issues that have not been handled so far in a Bulgarian TV series: which are the mechanisms applied to manipulate society; the schemes used in reference to the files held by the former communist secret services and the people who take advantage of those files; who is wiretapping who and why; how is the modern political Frankenstein born; what is the invisible face of political game and what is the role of media and reporters in the general picture.

“The Fourth Estate” title has been picked out as a challenge to Bulgarian social and political system, where journalism has to regain its importance and autonomy. The arguments for the creation of the series from a year back say “if the series draws the viewer into a civil response, it will indicate that we have disturbed the “silence that makes us accomplices and kills democracy.”

When the series premiered, it stirred unprecedented professional and public debate because of the issues and subjects addressed in it.


Sevda Shishmanova

Журналист в новините, актуалните и публицистични предавания на БНТ. Репортер, международен кореспондент, коментатор, ръководител на екип и автор на документални филми. Автор на статии във вестник “Капитал”. Режисьор и продуцент.



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