Following up on my previous post on Kazakhstan, below is what I learned from my conversation with two professors at KIMEP University.
1. Libel is a huge issue for the media because burden of truth falls on the defendant. Not only do they have to prove that what they are saying is true, they also have to prove that there was no harm caused to the plaintiff (person who filed the suit). Ouch.
2. The general attitude towards journalism is very similar to the Wild West.
3. If you’re a journalist, you’re also an activist. If you’re an activist, you’ve probably been arrested at least once.
4. The state media has its own kind of self-censorship. All reports by ALL state media is the same. They call it standardization, consistency.
5. Newspapers are not big on attribution.
6. There’s no pluralism, no middle ground, with the media. You are either pro-government or you are the opposition media. And if you’re the opposition, well the government is going to try very hard to shut you down.
7. The Internet is still less regulated than print or broadcast. That being said, state media dominates and broadcast is the most prevalent source of news. More than newspapers (shocker).
8. The government and businesses have no sense of accountability. As a result, they treat the media – state and independent – as public relations instruments. Ergo the clampdown on critical voices.
I finally finished writing my text story on the media environment in Kazakhstan. I tried getting in touch with various people in the state media. I even tried to get in touch with the President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s press secretary. I also called the embassy in D.C. No dice. I turned in my story, but I’m still going to try to get the state’s voice.
I spoke to a Kazakh blogger a few days ago and she told me that the state media has a tendency of painting the country as a paradise. She called it propaganda. So now I REALLY want to speak to someone from that camp. Maybe they don’t see it as propaganda. Maybe they genuinely believe in their message. Or maybe they just don’t care about the message as long as they have a job. I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to them. And I really, really want to.