Russia Ranks 149th In World Press Freedom Index
There are still journalists in Russia, but is there journalism? – expert opinion
May 3 marks World Press Freedom Day, which was proclaimed on December 20, 1993 in a special resolution by the UN General Assembly. Since 1997, the UNESCO Prize for Press Freedom has been awarded on this day..
In addition, messages from the UN Secretary General are published annually on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. In his last video message dedicated to this day, UN Secretary General Antonio Guteris said: “Without access to transparent and reliable information, full-fledged democracy is impossible. Without freedom of the press, it is impossible to create fair and impartial institutions, to hold leaders accountable and to bring the truth to the authorities. “.
The correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America” decided to find out how popular World Press Freedom Day is in the Russian Federation.
“The Union of Journalists is exclusively engaged in serving the interests of the authorities”
Sociologist and publicist Igor Yakovenko believes that another date related to the press is more relevant for modern Russia. Namely – January 13, the anniversary of the publication of the first Russian newspaper – “St. Petersburg Vedomosti”. “It happened in 1703, and since then the entire press in the country has remained state-owned. For example, if the United States of America has never had state media, and now they do not. And in Russia, if any sprouts of a non-state press appeared, they were trampled underfoot. And starting with Lenin’s decree “On the press” they were destroyed, it would seem, finally. But in 1990, the Soviet law was adopted, and a year later – the Russian law on the media, and, it seems, a certain renaissance of a free, non-state press began. And then everything was trampled down again, “he made a short historical excursion in an interview with the correspondent of the Russian service of the Voice of America..
As for the essence of the issue, according to Igor Yakovenko, journalism in Russia is over. “However,” he adds, “it would be strange to deny the presence of journalists in the country. There are a sufficient number – and there are even a lot of them – of good journalists in Russia today. They can be enumerated for a long time – these are my colleagues who publish together with me in “Daily Journal” and on “Kasparov.ru”, and those who sometimes come to “Echo of Moscow”. I’m not even talking about Novaya Gazeta, Znak.com, those who work for Radio Liberty, and so on..
But journalism is not an individual who can work in any country, but a certain field, a certain form of public consciousness, which as a whole somehow influences society. Journalism is a kind of communicative environment, and it certainly doesn’t exist in Russia, it has disappeared. Journalism is when if something happens, then solidarity actions take place, as we once published Obshchaya Gazeta, where a large number of logos appeared, indicating that we together oppose something.
And that journalism, which appeared as a phenomenon in Russia in the second half of the 19th century, does not exist in the country today. Because anything can happen, but there are no actions of solidarity, and journalists do not act as a united front. Because the Union of Journalists is exclusively engaged in serving the interests of the authorities, and nothing more, and any attempts to create other forms of journalistic solidarity are currently impossible in Russia, ”Igor Yakovenko believes. And one of the main reasons for this state of affairs, according to the interlocutor of the Voice of America, is that the entire media field in Russia is occupied by the state..
“Young people are only interested in who will be ahead of whom, and not what who will write”
Alexei Simonov, President of the Glasnost Defense Foundation, believes that the situation in which there are professional journalists, but there is practically no journalism as such, is very typical, at least for the last five years..
In an interview with a correspondent for the Russian service of the Voice of America, he clarified: “For the time being, journalism in our country is preserved in separate patches that still exist in this space, and they themselves do not even know exactly why they exist. For example, “Novaya Gazeta”, or the TV channel “Rain” “.
At the same time, Alexei Simonov does not believe that freedom of the press is impossible in Russia in principle: “The fact that there is no freedom of the press in Russia now is for sure. But the people of my generation hoped for those who were born and raised after the mid-80s, that is, the so-called “non-whipped generation”. But this generation was approached by the Internet, and it plunged into a sea of technical excellence and ceased to be interested in content. By and large, young people are only interested in who will be ahead of whom, and not what who will write “.
As for the significance of the Press Freedom Day itself in modern Russia, Aleksey Simonov proposes to conduct a small sociological study. “At least ask your friends if they remember what day is celebrated on May 3. Didn’t you ask? So, you know for sure that as soon as you inform them about it, they will slap themselves on the forehead: “Oh, really!”. This means that there is no holiday, there is nothing to celebrate! And this is true, you can’t say anything here, ”concludes the President of the Glasnost Defense Foundation..
“When preparing this issue, I talk with a lawyer more than with journalists.”
The editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta in Petersburg, Diana Kachalova, believes that one of the main problems of the modern Russian press is self-censorship. “Of course, there are still publications that objectively cover what is happening in the country. But, alas, their number is decreasing. And at the same time, the authorities learned to behave smartly enough: when this or that publication was “reformatted”, then, almost never it was about political censorship, but only about a “dispute between economic entities”, or something else of the same kind. “, – she said in an interview with the correspondent of the Russian service” Voice of America “.
And she clarified that the only exception is the recent incident with the St. Petersburg observer of the Kommersant newspaper Maria Karpenko, who was fired for publishing on the Rotunda Telegram channel, because, according to the head of the Kommersant publishing house, Vladimir Zhelonkin, they contradicted the editorial policy of the publication “.
And as an example of “reformatting” Kachalova mentioned the newspaper “Delovoy Peterburg”: “it seems that the publication is the same, the logo is the same, even some journalists are the same, although there are few of them, and the publication has become completely different. And those journalists who continue to honestly do their job are faced with a huge number of problems that our state has created for them. I mean the completely insane laws that have been adopted in Russia in recent years. And when preparing the next issue, I talk with our lawyer more than with journalists, “said the editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta in St. Petersburg..
At the same time, many of the new laws restricting freedom of the press are applied selectively, that is, pro-government journalists are allowed, for example, to use so-called “profanity” on the air. “And when we posted a recording of one theatrical performance on the site, where it was about freedom and independence, it turned out that there, somewhere in the 50th minute, one of the characters uttered the“ forbidden ”word, then they just dragged me to Roskomnadzor “, – testifies the interlocutor of the” Voice of America “.
But the saddest thing, according to Kachalova, is not even this. If we take on faith the division of Russian society into the conditional 86% “pro-Putin” and 14% “dissenting”, it turns out that the opposition minority watches, reads and listens to the liberal press, which occupies a very narrow segment in the total volume of mass media. “And as a result, we – these same 14% – communicate within a vicious circle and retell to each other what we have known for a long time and even learned by heart. And none of the sufficiently civilized media is able to go out and talk with people outside this circle, “concludes Diana Kachalova, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta in Petersburg..