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Deputy Minister’s Speech on Journalism Sparks Controversy

Kremlin and St. Basil's

JERUSALEM, February 12 (RIA Novosti) – Russian deputy communications minister Alexei Volin explained on Monday that the controversy stirred by his words that journalists were “not tasked with making the world better,” demonstrates the huge gap between how the experts perceive the media and how it works in practice.

Commenting on the speech, the Russian Union of journalists said on Monday that regardless of what officials say, journalism’s main objective remains the same – “to be the eyes and ears of the society.”

Speaking at a conference on Saturday to discuss journalism role in society, Volin said that a journalist’s mission is not to “make the world better, or bring the glare of true knowledge, or put the humanity on the right track,” but to “make profit for those who hired him.” “We should give students a clear understanding: they are going to work for The Man, and The Man will tell them what to write, what not to write and how this or that things should be written, and The Man has the right to do it, because he pays them.”

Volin, who was charged with creating Russia’s state policy for the media when being appointed to the current post in July 2012, told journalists during the International Book Fair in Jerusalem on Monday that his Saturday’s speech was intended to “explain to… the liberal audience how the media works, referring to market mechanisms, but the audience didn’t like what they heard.”

“This huge public controversy is caused by the fact that, unfortunately, there is a huge gap between how the academicians see the media market and the profession of journalist and what happens in practice,” the deputy minister said.

The Russian Union of Journalists said in a statement dated Monday that “downgrading” a journalist’s role in the society was “an old trick in political technology” designed, among other things, to distract the society from its pressing problems.

“Such tricks have little and short-term effect, and this is proven by the history of the 20th and the 21st century. But it does great damage to the state and the society,” the statement reads.

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