Russian journalism in serious crisis – expert

File Photo of Russian Television Studio

(Interfax – Moscow, April 9, 2014) Secretary of the Union of Journalists of Russia [UJR] Pavel Gutionov has described the current state of affairs in Russian journalism as the most serious crisis in its entire history.

“Our profession is experiencing the most serious crisis in its entire history. It has even been suggested that journalism will not survive at all,” Gutionov said that the House of Journalist on Wednesday [9 April].

He said that the results of a study commissioned by the government had recently been published, and it included journalism among the professions that are becoming extinct. “We have only been given until 2020 or possibly 2040 to live. I believe the comrades are being a little hasty and engaging in wishful thinking,” Gutionov said, commenting on the results of the study.

At the same time he stressed that the situation in journalism was deteriorating. “In all of the recent years, the state has not adopted a single law to make the position of the press easier. There have, however, been many changes that restrict journalists and make their work more difficult,” Gutionov pointed out.

In his view, this is being done so as to “definitively place the press under the control of officials”.

“Many officials act unwisely and are not qualified for this work. They may bring back censorship and extend it to everything around us. They fight against paedophiles and homosexuals, ban obscenities in print, and have already compiled a list of words prohibited for use,” the UJR secretary pointed out.

He believes that “it is only the collective deputy Fedorov and the collective deputy Mitrofanov” who are creating legislation for journalism, “with the participation of the collective deputy Yarovaya” [reference to MPs Yevgeniy Fedorov, Aleksey Mitrofanov and Irina Yarovaya, the authors of some of the more repressive bills in the current State Duma].

Meanwhile, Gutionov said, all suggestions made by professionals are left without comment, and cooperation opportunities are ignored. “Meanwhile a fully ready draft law on the mass media, which was approved and supported by everyone, has been lying in the State Duma without movement for over six years and for some reason is not being passed,” Gutionov said.

For his part, chairman of the Union of Journalists of Moscow and editor in chief of [mass-circulation Russian newspaper] Moskovskiy Komsomolets Pavel Gusev regards the State Duma’s failure to pass a new bill on the mass media as a positive. “It is very fortunate that the law on the mass media is on the back burner. Imagine what would happen if it were submitted for debate at the present [State] Duma. It would be turned into one hell of a law,” Gusev said.

[featured image is file photo not directly related to article subject matter]