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#17 - JRL 9311 - JRL Home
From: "William Dunkerley" <wd@publishinghelp.com>
Subject: Re: JRL 9308, Western journalists critical of Putin
Date: Fri, 2 Dec 2005

The Russian president has steadily eroded press freedoms in this county. There is a reawakening of journalistic self-censorship. Press freedom in Russia is vanishing. These stinging indictments from several Western media outlets characterize the negative way in which many journalists have reported on the Russian press. The great irony of it all is how wrong the Western media have been about the Russian media.

What theyve failed to report is that from the start of the Russian Federation, there was no legal possibility for media companies to become financially independent and trustworthy. Putin has not steadily eroded press freedoms. There was no free press in the first place thanks to Yeltsin-era laws. They thrust the media into the clutches of politicians, oligarchs, and others willing to make up for media financial shortfalls in exchange for the opportunity to color the news.

Then, in mid-2002, the Putin administration changed the laws to permit media financial independence. How many Western journalists reported on that? Indeed, that was the year when Western journalists uncritically quoted Freedom Houses declaration that the Russian press had just gone from partly free to not free. Here was a milestone year in advancing press freedom in Russia. But the same old, negative, and, yes, inaccurate theme was presented. It defies reason, and makes one wonder why. Can any JRL readers explain this one?

(William Dunkerley (wd@publishinghelp.com) is a media business analyst and consultant based in New Britain, Connecticut. He has worked extensively in Russia and other post communist countries.)