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Lack of climate change media coverage in Kyrgyzstan

June 14, 2010

Poor environmental reporting in Kyrgyzstan is due in part by lack of interest.

Kyrgyz journalists don’t cover climate change because of Russian propaganda, general disinterest and prohibitive expenses, said Nurzat Abdyrasulova, director of the civic environmental foundation UNISON. 

“Last time, the most popular Russian TV channel showed a documentary that claimed that climate change is just speculation and a lie. After such programmes, many journalists in Kyrgyzstan become convinced that they should not pay attention to this problem and report on it,” Abdyrasulova said.

“They also think that climate change is a product of fantasy from scientists. No journalist has deep knowledge about climate change,” she added. 

Lack of interest is also suffocating climate change reporting. A seminar for local journalists organised by UNISON in the beginning of April, aiming to help them report on climate change, stimulated little interest. 

“It was really hard to get journalists to take part in the three-day training, [even though] it was led by experienced journalists and scientists, was free-of-charge and even paid for provincial journalists [to come],” Abdyrasulova said. “After confirming their participation they didn’t come and we called them many times to remind them about the event, which was very disappointing.”  Read more…

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Kyrgyz journalism training is too ‘Soviet’ claims AUCA department chair

May 3, 2010

Journalism training in Kyrgyzstan is entirely based on Russian universities’ programmes and is outdated both in content and technically, said Aleksei Gurkin, chair of journalism and mass communications department at the American University in Central Asia (AUCA).

“In most cases the curriculum that is being used here is largely based on the curriculum being used in Russian universities. In the best scenario it will be the Moscow State University, and in the worst one of those peripheral universities in Russia. The problem is that the Russian style of journalism is very specific. And the people who develop curriculums are those who are followers of this specific model of journalism,” said Gurkin.  “A lot of materials and the way of teaching itself are outdated, because substantial resources are required to update the programmes continuously. And in our case we don’t have even our own learning materials”. 

The main problem with using the Russian curriculum and learning materials is that nobody tries to adapt them to local needs and even understand what is really needed. “We basically take Russian programmes and transplant them here, which is not always the best option. The best practices come from other countries and in this case it is Russia; however they need to be adapted to local needs and this is something that is missing. It plays a negative role in terms of how in tune we are with contemporary developments in the media world,” added Gurkin.

According to Gurkin, Kyrgyz journalism still contains a lot of details borrowed from the Soviet school of journalism because it mostly copies the Russian way of doing journalism. “It is not appropriate at all. We are lagging behind current tendencies of journalism”.

In AUCA teachers use an interdisciplinary approach; however they have to struggle with the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education which condemns them for not complying with state standards. As AUCA uses an American style of teaching journalism as opposed to state standards based on a Russian one, there is a reason for conflict.

“We believe we are preparing students who are more adaptable to a modern media environment and a modern journalism profession”, said Gurkin.

Lack of technical resources is another problem which affects the journalism teaching process. If, for example, students are interested in broadcast journalism they often have no opportunity to practice gained skills using modern video, editing or sound equipment.  “They often end up applying for jobs in the local TV channels and start to use equipment they have just seen for the first time in their lives,” added Gurkin.

The lack of younger professionals also is a big issue for journalism departments in Kyrgyzstan. In the Kyrgyz National University, most of the teachers used to be journalists in the Soviet Times, more than 20 years ago. It affects enormously the quality of education, according to Gurkin.

“When something happens in Kyrgyzstan foreign journalists come here and do things themselves rather than working with local journalists or commissioning to them to produce something. That is not because most of them don’t speak English or that some of them cannot produce material up to standard to be published by the foreign media. It is because they simply have no contacts abroad and are very local-oriented,” said Gurkin.

Aleksey Gurkin also said how prestigious and popular among potential students the journalism profession is. If you are interested please listen to his short interview below.

Kyrgyzstan Public Averted from Reading Environmental News

April 29, 2010

Kairat Moldoshev

Environmental issues in Kyrgyzstan are not covered by Kyrgyz-speaking journalists, but by Russian-speaking media that are mostly based in the capital Bishkek, according to Kairat Moldoshev, a leading Kyrgyz environmentalist.

Kairat Moldoshev, who recently taught local journalists how to report on climate change during a seminar organised by the Civic Environmental Foundation UNISON, said that most of the population in the country have no access to ecological information.

“In Kyrgyzstan people think that fall-out, snow-slips, and light frosts occur by the will of God,” Moldoshev said.

This is because Kyrgyz-speaking journalists do not cover environmental issues and most of the people speak only Kyrgyz, especially in the provinces. They can not obtain such information from the Russian-speaking press who actively report on environmental developments. That is why most of the Kyrgyz population is not environmentally aware.

“Kyrgyz-speaking media don’t provide ecological information because there is no interest from the public. People are more interested in the coverage of celebrities’ lives – who marry whom, how many cars were used in the wedding of the star singers, for example.  But they are not interested in the information about fall-out, snow-slips, or light frosts that directly affect their welfare, lives and safety. It is not clear for me why?” Moldoshev said. Read more…

Marat Tokoev: “There are hidden efforts not to let materials on environment appear in the media”

April 24, 2010
An unstable political situation caused by two revolutions, one of which took place in 2005 and the other one just several weeks ago is one of the reasons why environment is not on the agenda.

The social and economic conditions of the people are the main topics covered by journalists. They are reluctant to cover environmental issues because the people living in extreme poverty cannot think about the environment, said Marat Tokoev, chairman of the Public Association Journalists (PAJ), a union for journalists.

Because of small staff numbers and scanty earnings, journalists concentrate on producing analytical materials, news, and comments on all the topics without any limitations. This usually affects the quality of journalistic output, Tokoev added.

“There are two different types of environmental reporters: One of them doesn’t have a deep knowledge of the environment and the other one does but does not have the necessary journalistic skills for good reporting,” he said.   Read more…

Swine Flu coverage in Central Asia

April 15, 2010

Power Presentation included quantitative and content analysis of swine flu coverage in five Central Asian states.
Swine flu coverage in Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan crisis: what happened and what is ahead?

April 10, 2010

Kyrgyz entering the otherwise-closed capitol lawn following citywide protests in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on April 7th, 2010. The severely damaged capitol was left unguarded for several hours on the morning of April 8th.

Another page of history opened in Kyrgyzstan after a bloody uprising forced the president Kurmanbek Bakiev to flee the capital. Clashes in the capital, Bishkek, and other towns left 84 dead and more than 1,500 hurt, the health ministry said.

Violence initially broke out in the provincial town of Talas on Tuesday and spread to the capital Bishkek, where demonstrators marched on government buildings, and another town, Naryn, on Wednesday.

Events were developing rapidly. Thousands of demonstrators in Talas and Naryn stormed a government building and imposed their own “people’s governor”. They demanded the resignation of Kurmanbek Bakiev.

Late on Tuesday, riot police sent from Bishkek took over the building. But very soon the protesters re-took the building, by throwing stones and petrol bombs at the riot police. Portraits of President Bakiyev were set on fire.

Later that day, the government announced the situation was under control. Many opposition leaders were detained. A state of national emergency was declared by president Bakiev.

But unexpectably the protesters started to storm the national TV and radio company, police headquarters, the general prosecutor’s office and the parliament building in Bishkek. They broke through a police cordon and marched towards the main government building. As the protesters approached it they were met with a fusillade of stun grenades and live rounds.

Later on Wednesday, opposition leaders arrested the day before were released. After storming the government office they have dissolved parliament and taken power. It declared new goverment with interim leader Roza Otunbayeva, an ex-foreign minister, who urged President Kurmanbek Bakiev to resign but in a statement quoted by 24.kg news agency he has refused.

Mr Bakiev came to power five years ago in a same way organising protests and so called revolution. Being in Jalal-Abad region in the south of the country now he blames opposition for the violence. He also told BBC that he was afraid to come back to the capital because he will be killed by the protesters.

Read more…

Kyrgyzstan in rebellion

April 8, 2010

An opposition-captured vehicle burns near the capitol building during citywide protests and riots in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on April 7th, 2010. Guards can be seen to the left of the smoke.

Opposition protesters appear to have overthrown the government of Kyrgyzstan for the second time in five years after riot police officers fired on demonstrators on Wednesday.

84 people were killed and more than 1000 wounded in clashes in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, according to an official with Kyrgyzstan’s health ministry. By day’s end, opposition leaders declared that they had formed a new government called people’s government.

Ex-Foreign Minister, Roza Otunbayeva, told the BBC that new defence and interior ministers had been appointed. Ms Otunbayeva said the interim government would remain in power for six months and draw up a new constitution. She is expected to address parliament later.

Speaking to reporters, she said Mr Bakiyev had returned to Jalal-Abad, in the south of the country, to try to rally support.

“We want to negotiate his resignation,” Reuters news agency quotes her as saying. “His business here is over.”

According to opposition members, Mr Bakiev left the capital and went to his home town Jalal-Abad to look for people back him.

Embedded below is a video of protests that were uploaded to a new YouTube account, set up on Wednesday, by someone using the screen name “gogimanov.”

Reaction worldwide

The United States said it deplored the violence and urged “respect for the rule of law”. It also said it believed the government was still in control.

Russian PM Vladimir Putin denied that Moscow had played any role in the unrest, saying it was a “domestic affair” and that there should be “restraint”.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the protests showed the “outrage at the existing regime”.

A spokesman for Ban Ki-moon said the UN secretary general was “shocked by the reported deaths and injuries that have occurred” in Kyrgyzstan.

“He urgently appeals for dialogue and calm to avoid further bloodshed.”