President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Vsevolod Leonidovich [Bogdanov],
You head the country’s biggest journalists’ association. What is it I want to discuss with you today? Above all, I want to talk with you about the extent to which the Union is fulfilling its main function of assisting journalists to carry out their professional duties, and about any related questions that you might wish to raise.
President of the Russian Journalists’ Union Vsevolod Bogdanov: Thank you very much for finding the time to meet. We prepared very thoroughly for this meeting. We have a whole pile here of issues that we would like to raise.
With more than 100,000 members, our Union is not only the biggest in Russia but also the biggest in the International Federation. We recently held our congress and there we discussed issues in two areas. One, of course, was the media market’s legal and economic organisation, looking at everything from postal services to digital television. Second was the social status of journalists. We have many problems in this area, including murders of journalists, sometimes difficult relations with the authorities, and the declining prestige of our profession and of journalists in general in our country.
People used to gather at street newspaper stands to read journalistic essays, current affairs commentaries and feuilletons, but these genres have vanished from Russian journalism today. In the past, powerful essays and articles could have a real impact on our lives. Today, unfortunately, much has changed and the press writes, prints various things, but does not always have any real influence on life and politics.
Dmitry Medvedev: Perhaps this is a change for the better. I remember the days when, in the greyness and rigidity that surrounded us back then, any bold article produced such a vivid flash. But now life itself has become so much brighter that even the most talented articles and essays perhaps don’t reach their readers as fast as they used to. Perhaps this is just a sign of the times?
Vsevolod Bogdanov: I share your optimism, but if journalism was working now as it did in the past, we could address many issues a lot more successfully. You could say today that we journalists are participating poorly in building our country’s social and political life. Take the national projects, for example, or the fight against corruption. What you said about the need for a systemic approach was good. But if we got journalists involved in this work too, this systemic approach would produce better results.
Dmitry Medvedev: I agree with you here. This is indeed so. There are a number of cases where the authorities and the public in general could achieve the desired results more quickly if journalists reacted faster and with more substantial publications.
Vsevolod Bogdanov: I think the authorities can count on journalists in this respect, and journalists will start taking a new view of their place in society. One very good formula has it that good media is when the nation talks to itself. If we can reach that level we would perhaps be able to achieve more together.
Dmitry Medvedev: Let’s discuss the concrete steps we can take then to achieve this.