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Russian journalists mark professional holiday on Sunday

January 13, 2013, 2:23 UTC+3
Journalism remained one of the most dangerous professions
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MOSCOW, January 13 (Itar-Tass) - Russian journalists will mark a professional holiday on Sunday – Day of Russian Press. This date is timed to coincide with the publication of the first Russian printed newspaper “Vedomosti” (News) in 1703. It was established by Tsar Peter the Great. In 1991, Russia’s Supreme Soviet transferred the holiday, which had previously been marked on May 5, the birthday of the Soviet newspaper “Pravda”, to January 13 at the request of the Russian journalistic community.

The first Russian periodical came out under the title of “News about military and new affairs worthy of being known and remembered that has occurred in the Moscow state and other neighboring countries.” The newspaper had a circulation of just a thousand copies and was published only in Moscow and St. Petersburg under various titles: "Vedomosti" (News), "Rossiyskiye Vedomosti” (Russian News) and “Moskovskiye Vedomosti” (Moscow News).

The Moscow Union of Journalists congratulated Russian journalists on Day of Russian Press. “Several leading publications have marked jubilee anniversaries this year. The newspapers “Izvestia” and “Gudok” saw their 95th anniversaries; the newspaper “Pravda” marked its centenary jubilee. The list also includes the Young Guard publishing house, magazines “Krestyanka” (A Peasant Woman) and “Asia and Africa Today” and “On Action Post”; The Tverskaya-13 newspaper celebrated its 20th anniversary and the TV Center Channel marked its 15th birthday,” the Moscow Union of Journalists said.

According to the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications, Russia has over 90,000 officially registered media outlets, of which 40,000 are newspapers. Experts find it hard to say exactly how many of the registered publications see the light regularly but they put the figure at no more than 60%. The newspapers “Kommersant”, “Vedomosti” and “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” have been the most quoted newspapers in recent years. The most acclaimed entertainment publications include “Argumenty I Fakty” (Arguments and Facts), “Komsomolskaya Pravda” and “Moskovsky Komsomolets”.

Pavel Gusev, the editor-in-chief of the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, the head of the Moscow Union of Journalists and a member of the Russian Public Chamber, told Itar-Tass that journalism remained one of the most dangerous professions. He said that the recent murder of TV journalist Kazbek Gekkiyev, the presenter of the “Vesti. Kabardino-Balkaria” news program of the republican branch of the Russian State Radio and Television Company on December 5 last year was one of such high-profile crimes.

"Media representatives often face threats,” Gusev emphasized. According to the figures released by the Glasnost Protection Fund, instances of exerting pressure on journalists by means of threats increased to 55 in 2012.

"Unfortunately, as a rule, police does not perceive threats made to journalists as a sufficient reason to start an investigation,” Gusev said. He believes that denationalization that hasn’t yet started remains one of the thorniest problems for the media. ”Regional media outlets that are financially dependent on the local authorities are involuntarily deprived of an independent editorial policy,” Gusev stressed, adding that budget infusions into state-run media created imbalances in the market and were a hindrance to competition.

Gusev called for the creation of a National Federation of Russian Press that could unite non-profit organizations in the media industry and defend the rights of journalists.

The Russian Public Chamber believes that such a federation would allow numerous non-profit organizations to stay autonomous and independent and would give them a chance to unite and become intermediaries in the journalistic community’s dialogue with the authorities and civil society.

A public opinion poll carried out by VTSIOM on the eve of Day of Russian Press reveals that Russians have increased trust in journalists over the past two years. Respondents who were asked to assess the journalistic profession by several parameters were inclined to consider it socially important.

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