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11.12.2010 20:37

I'll start straight away:

This morning I visited Oleg Kashin in the hospital. He had undergone another routine operation, surgically restoring, in the literal and figurative sense of the term, the face of Russian journalism.

And another thing, before this attack, Oleg Kashin did not exist, and could not have existed, for the federal airwaves. In recent times he has written about the radical opposition, protest movements, and street youth ringleaders, and these topics and characters are uninteresting for those TV channels.

After the real and imaginary sins of the '90s, there were two points in the 2000s - at the beginning, for the sake of the elimination of the media oligarchs, and then for the sake of the unity of the ranks in the counter-terrorism war - when federal telecommunications were nationalized. Journalistic topics, and with them all the life, were definitively divided into what was allowed on TV and what wasn't allowed on TV. Each politically significant broadcast is used to guess the government's goals and problems, its mood, attitude, its friends and enemies. Institutionally, this is not information at all, but government publicity or anti-publicity.

For a federal television channel correspondent, the highest official persons are not newsmakers, but the bosses of his boss. Institutionally, a correspondent is then not a journalist at all, but a civil servant, following the logic of service and submission. There's no possibility, for example, to have an interview in its truest sense with the boss of the boss: it'd be an attempt to expose someone who wouldn't want to be exposed. At times, one gets the impression that the country's leading social/political newspaper (which is in no way programmed as oppositionist) and the federal television channels talk about different two different countries.

The longstanding techniques are familiar to anyone who was around during USSR Central Television, when reporting was substituted with protocol recordings of meetings in the Kremlin; the text has intonational support when there are canons of these displays: the person in charge meets with the minister or head of a region, goes to the people, holds a summit with foreign colleagues. This isn't news, it's old; a repetition of what's customary to broadcast in such situations. The possible shows lack an informational basis altogether - in a thinned-out broadcasting vegetable patch, any vegetable is going to look like a big deal just by having regularly appeared on the screen.

Our television thrills, captivates, entertains and makes you laugh with all the more sophistication, but you would unlikely call it a civic socio-political institution. I am convinced: it is one of the main reasons for the dramatic decline in television viewing among the most active part of the population, when people from our circle say: "Why turn the box on, they don't make it for me."

What's more frightening is that a large part of the population already feels no need for journalism. When they're perplexed: "So they beat someone - do you think there's so few among us who were also beaten? And what's this fuss over some reporter?" Millions of people don't understand that a journalist takes a professional risk for the sake of his audience. A journalist isn't beaten because of something he wrote, said or filmed, but because this thing was read, heard, or seen.

Everything you read above starting from the story of a beaten journalist was said by former anchor of Russian НТВ and former editor of Russian Newsweek Leonid Parfyonov on November 26 when he was awarded the first ever Vladislav Listyev prize for television journalism.

We now know whose example Georgia is following.

That's all I wanted to say today.

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