STATEMENT FROM BARENTS PRESS INTERNATIONAL, CONCERNING THE RESTRICTION OF BARENTSOBSERVERS' EDITORIAL FREEDOM
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Native languages mass media in Karelia: on the threshold of reforms
State support is necessarily required for development of the national press in Karelia. The future of the publishing house "Periodica" and republican mass-media in native languages huas ben under discussion for more than a month.
In the end of June at the session of regional Council of representatives of Karelians, Vepsan and Finns the director of publishing house "Periodica" Lidia Rämenen spoke about difficulties in the work caused by insufficient state support. Sergey Katanandov keeping at that time the post of the governor was concerned about independence of mass-media. In his opinion full state financing violates this principle of democracy. Though S.Katanandov said nothing about thet ammount of support which will allow national mass-media to keep confidently in the market but will not diminish their independence. What is in store for "Periodica" in the future? Will the government of Kareliya go on supporting national languages mass-media?
Publishing house "Periodica" is included into the structure of the Ministry of Republic Karelia concerning the national policy and contacts with religious associations. The publishing house was created in 1991. Today it houses six editions: the newspaper in the Finnish language Karjalan Sanomat, the newspaper in Livvian variant of Karelian language Oma Mua, children's magazine in Finnish, Karelian and Vepsan Kipinä, literary and art magazine in the Finnish language Carelia, the Vepsan newspaper Kodima, the newspaper in Karelian language of Belomorskaya Karelia Vienan Karjala. The basic founders of all editions – Legislative Assembly, Karelian Government, the Ministry of the national policy, the Ministry of Education and national public associations.
In 2002 the state committee of Karelia on the national policy noticed that despite financing from the Governments of Karelia, the publishing house's work disposes serious problems. A small number of inhabitants of the republic have a possibility to subscribe to magazine and the newspaper because of the high postage. To subscribe to the Karelian newspaper, for example, in Kalevalsky area manages twice more expensively than in Petrozavodsk. Therefore many readers, especially in villages, refused a subscription to editions in native languages.
Through thorns to success
Newspapers have deficiency of constant readers. Now the circulation of each edition averages 500-1000 copies. Besides, in Karelia the number of those who have good command of national languages and thus could be among subscribers gets smaller.
Despite these sad tendencies, employees of newspapers and publishing house as a whole intend to expand the activity, increasing volumes and periodicity. Children's magazine Kipinä is planned to be published separately in three languages – Finnish, Karelian and Finnish. And they will not copy each other.
It is surprising that the publishing house manages even to declare success at federal level. In spring 2010 "Periodica" became the winner of competition «Best books of Russia» organised by Association of publishers of Russia. T.B.Jashkova's book «Costume of Karelia» was recognised the best in a nomination "Best book promoting development of regions of Russia".
On the eve of reforms
Publishing house's reform assumes resolving of several questions: How will the editions be financed next year? Will they meet the requirements of the time and requirements of readers? How will they promote development of national languages?
Definitively it is not clear whether the publishing house will keep the status of the state enterprise. The financing question is a key one. At the session of Council of representatives of Karelians, Vepsans and Finns the director of "Periodica" Lidia Rämenen declared that in practice the publishing house receives less than is put in the republican target program to support Karelian, Vepsan and Finnish languages in Karelia. Now steady release of periodicals is possible thanks to realisation of this program.
In 2007 the republican interdepartmental commission, having studied publishing house activity, came to a conclusion that the publisher can cover only 10 % of expenses for manufacture of mass-media by incomes of realisation of newspapers and magazines. Besides, since 1998 the publishing house tries to earn money producing books in Russian, Karelian, Vepsan and Finnish languages.
Maria Sakaeva, Info centre FINUGOR
Translated by Tatiana Polkova