Journalists from Eastern Europe are all too familiar with trying to navigate political leaders and their cronies have fostered a culture of propaganda and falsehood in a bid to silence independent media. More than thirty years after the collapse of communism, they have learned how to survive in a hostile climate where corrupt officials and media repression have been the norm. The Covid-19 pandemic along with the 'infodemic' of misinformation posed new challenges to journalists in the region, where vaccination rates are some of the lowest in Europe. So, we ask what can Western media learn from journalists working in a hostile media environment? Could journalists in Eastern Europe help colleagues in the West better navigate a turbulent political and media landscape? What are the obstacles to building niche and independent media in countries with little history of that? What was the role of the media during the wave of pandemic-related disinformation?