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Why newspapers are not trusted

Jun 18, 2010


A round table in Arkhangelsk, co-sponsored by the regional N. Dobrolyubov Science Literature Library and Russian State Press University, has discussed the issue of public trust of the media.


Mediator Yevgeny Bakhanov, director of the Institute of the Modern Press Market, challenged reporters to take on the responsibility for people’s mistrust of the newspapers. But journalists disagreed. For example, Valentin Ivanov said that “many other news sources have appeared, such as web publications, which respond to various events much faster than the print media and enjoy a fairly high degree of trust”.

An exchange of views followed on why the level of people’s trust of media-published information is steadily declining and what needs to be done to restore it.

“Journalists themselves are to blame,” Yevgeny Bakhanov said. “At the beginning of perestroika the newspapers decided that advertisers were more important to them than the readers. So we sold the newspapers, sold our journalistic ethics, and betrayed our readers and our profession.”

Among other reasons participants mentioned imperfection of the Russian laws regulating relations between media founders and journalists, and the declining level of journalistic professionalism.

Vladimir Fedorenko, a secretary of the regional Communist party committee who attended the round table, commented: “I was very much surprised by the Moscow guest’s suggestion that the reasons for lack of trust in the media should be sought within the journalistic community itself. Let me remind you that twenty years ago the newspapers did not start earning money of their own free will; they were forced to survive in a country plunged by its rulers into wild capitalism. Considering that the state today is often the main media owner, it is quite logical that editors pursue a policy of serving the authorities and turning journalists into obedient ‘state order’ executors. I think mistrust of the media is rooted in the lack of interest on the part of the bureaucrats at all levels in having the newspapers provide comprehensive and unbiased coverage of what is going on in society.”

Significantly enough, the round table was not attended by a single government official.


Tamara Ovchinnikova, Glasnost Defense Foundation staff correspondent

Arkhangelsk

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