Access to information in hands of media
By Viktar Korbut
Delegations from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Venezuela and India attended the event in Minsk, with Moscow — the fair’s honourable guest — enjoying a separate stand. The Moscow media have taken part since the very first year but this was their largest delegation, comprising leading newspapers (such as Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Izvestia and Literaturnaya Gazeta) alongside magazines and book publishing houses.
The Belarusian Information Ministry and Moscow’s Department of Mass Media and Advertisement signed a co-operative agreement for 2011-2012, with the Muscovites officially inviting the Belarusians to attend their future book and printed media fairs. Moscow journalists are also to attend the Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk this year, reporting on the 20th International Song Contest.
Opening the Mass Media in Belarus exhibition, Belarusian Information Minister Oleg Proleskovsky noted that our present times are unique for the country’s media. “In late April, Grodno hosted a large seminar, gathering regional mass media. The results of the Zolotaya Litera (Golden Letter) contest have been concluded, with the Televershina event is next in line. A traditional media forum is soon to be organised, in addition to a summer school for CIS journalists. We welcome all those who write objectively and honestly about Belarus,” he said.
Alexander Lukashenko’s welcoming speech was read by the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, Alexander Radkov. It acknowledged that printed media is ‘a fourth power’ playing a key role in guiding public opinion. He noted: ‘The duty of each journalist is to report on carefully considered, true information, while recognising their level of responsibility for each word pronounced, for each shot and piece’.
Belarus is progressing in the global information field, with more active Internet users registered countrywide. Over 30 percent of Belarusians surf the global web on a regular basis, while each district newspaper now has its own Internet site (due to the attentions of the state). “I believe that this offers a unique possibility for Belarus, when district newspapers can be read online in Argentina, the USA, Canada, France and Australia — all over the globe,” said Mr. Proleskovsky.
Belarus’ State Programme for Mass Media Development until 2015 focuses on the complete transition to digital TV broadcasting. This applies not only to TV channels, but to all content, allowing digital broadcasts from different sources to be united, efficiently interacting while providing users with access to global and local information resources.
Experts believe that printed editions of Belarusian newspapers will still be desirable, as Western tabloids are, with printed versions of Belarusian daily and weekly papers focusing on analytical reviews and reports. New editions continue to be annually registered in the country. However, over the past five years, the state media budget has not been raised, encouraging editions to cover their own costs. Meanwhile: none of the major national newspapers has seen its circulation fall, while many regional newspapers have even increased their circulation.
The MT reference:
1,364 printed and 240 electronic mass media editions are registered in Belarus, with publications released in Belarusian, Russian, English, German, Ukrainian, Polish and other European languages. Nine information agencies operate in the country. Since early 2011, 32 new printed and 3 electronic mass media editions have been registered in Belarus.
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