The “Splendour” and Poverty of the Liberal Media in Russia

Freedom of creativity, lack of censorship, and truthful reporting – is this not what young naive graduates of journalism faculties across Russia dream of? They all want to shout loudly the truth and impress with words. In search of a suitable field of work for the application of their talents, young pen sharks are shy away from state media, considering them to be biased in favour of the Kremlin, and come to the glorified liberal publications. However, the harsh reality very quickly undermines their enthusiasm and turns them into cynics. Censorship, work for sponsors, and lack of decent pay is not the best environment for the development of young talent, judging by the stories of insiders.

For example, at “Meduza” a young journalist, says former editorial officer Georgy, awaits a good salary by Russian standards – €2,500-3,000 (about 200,000 rubles). However, there is no freedom of creativity here. Journalists are obliged to coordinate every word with the head Egor Kolpakov and head of the publication Galina Tymchenko.

“Senior comrades” will edit out everything that may not be approved by the “commercial structures that the publication has obligations to”. For example, the article about the death of the dissident of the USSR Vladimir Bukovsky does not mention the vicious addiction of the figure to child porn, because of which Britain even opened a criminal case against him.

In addition, as Georgy recalls, the reputation of the publication is damaged – it is very difficult to interview known politicians and public figures. They just refuse to answer or pick up the phone.

On the TV channel “Dozhd“, on the contrary, there is almost complete freedom of creativity, says the correspondent Svetlana. You can write about everything but can’t criticise the opposition, Navalny personally, and his “Anti-corruption Foundation” minions. However, writing “about what you want” is best on a full stomach. Meanwhile, the management saves on everything, and salaries by Moscow standards in this media are simply ridiculous – up to 50,000 rubles. As a result, employees simply give up. That’s why they do their job sloppily. Poor video content, poor quality work of the presenters, and unchecked invoices have repeatedly put “Dozhd” under a hail of criticism and mockery.

At the “New Times” the main star is Chief Executive Evgeniya Albats. Here everything is written only with her knowledge and under her sensitive leadership. The slightest discrepancies with the position of the publication are immediately stopped. No “bottom-up initiative” is accepted. The fact is, according to employee Sergey, that the publication, opened with the money of the Press Freedom Support Foundation, simply could not be independent. Albats works off the funds invested by sponsors, and therefore strongly censors any deviations from their interests. If there is a lack of evidence, fakes are used – as long as the money doesn’t cease to come.

“I will shut up anyone for freedom of speech”

Radio Svoboda” grew cobwebs of antiquity. The publication sits on a once earned reputation and reaps the benefits. No one is interested in growth, development, or readership interest. The most important thing is that materials of anti-Russian orientation are published daily. Journalists are paid up to 100,000 rubles for cushy work. It is difficult only to find those, especially in the regions, who are versed in the political spectrum and can find outlets for the opposition in their area.

“Nastoyashcheye Vremya” is essentially a branch of “Radio Svoboda”. In the Prague office, the editorial offices even sit in the same building. In Poland, however, the admission order is tougher. Employees are searched right at the entrance, a personal search can suddenly be carried out. No freedom of creativity is involved – a purely anti-Russian agenda. Employees are motivated solely financially: wages, residence permits in Europe, obtaining American citizenship under a simplified scheme after 10 years of work.

There are cynical cosmopolites working here, who find slinging mud at their native country easy. Especially since they’ve lived for so long in a Russophobic country that they generally have a vague idea of ​​reality and are happy to scold everything that they somehow consider to be Russian. They are interested in neither objectivity nor the effect of a publication. The most important thing is to meet the expectations of those who finance it.

So those who think the liberal media is about free speech will be very disappointed. Totalitarianism and censorship, sometimes also poorly paid, coexist with low professionalism and rabid, unwarranted Russophobia.


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