Home > Whatever > Anna Politkovskaya*: Is journalism worth dying for?

Anna Politkovskaya*: Is journalism worth dying for?

* Anna Politkovskaya, known as “Russia’s lost moral conscience,” was a female journalist for Novaya Gazeta in Russia. She was murdered in Moscow on October 7, 2006. The New York Times called her “the bravest of journalists.” Below is the excerpt from the book Anna Politkovskaya – Is journalism worth dying for? – a compilation of her final dispatches.

“Koverny,” a Russian clown whose job in the olden days was to keep the audience laughing while the circus arena was changed between acts. If he failed to make them laugh, the ladies and gentlemen booed him and the management sacked him.

Almost the entire present generation of Russian journalists, and those sections of the mass media which have survived to date, are clowns of this kind, a Big Top kovernys whose job is to keep the public entertained and, if they do have to write about anything serious, then merely to tell everyone how wonderful the Pyramid of Power is in all its manifestations.

The Pyramids of Power is something President Putin has been busy constructing for the past five years, in which every official – from top to bottom, the entire bureaucratic hierarchy – is appointed either by him personally or by his appointees. It is an arrangement of the state which ensures that anybody given to thinking independently of their immediate superior is promptly removed from office. In Russia the people thus appointed are described by Putin’s Presidential Administration, which effectively runs the country, as “on side.” Anybody not on side is an enemy. The vast majority of those working in the media support this dualism…

What happens to journalists who don’t want to perform in the Big Top? They become pariahs…

Is journalism worth dying for? Every time something like the events happen – and in Russia attempts to kill journalists are no rarity – we, the servants and slaves of information, ask ourselves this question. If the price of truth is so high, perhaps we should just stop, and find a profession with less risk of “major unpleasantness”? How much would society, for whose sake we are doing this work, care? In the face of that, each of us makes his or her own choice…

Every successive attack on a journalist in Russia – and by tradition nobody ever gets caught – relentlessly reduces the number of journalists working because they want to fight for justice… As the numbers of one kind of journalist fall, so there is an increase in the number of those who prefer undemanding journalism, reporting which doesn’t involve prying where you are not welcome.

Undemanding media cater for an undemanding public, ready to agree with everything it is told. The more there is of the former, the more monolithic the latter becomes, and the less opportunity society has of seeing what is wrong with the circumstances in which it lives.

It seems we are at a tipping point, and that soon the Government will no longer be breathing down our necks, because they will have achieved what they want: there will be nobody left prepared to lay down their life in order to get at the truth about other people’s lives.

Categories: Whatever
  1. tap
    25/03/2011 at 4:14 pm

    Nobody forces us to be journalists. It’s our choice. So, being undemanding journalists is our choice as well.

  2. tap
    25/03/2011 at 4:22 pm

    Being undemanding journalists or demanding journalists is the question that each of us has our own answer.

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