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18.04.2011

Censorship spreads quickly and is inclined to become self-censorship

   

 

Katerina Panova, one of the journalists from Kyiv Post presently on strike in protest at the dismissal of their Chief Editor, Brian Bonner, writes that she wouldn’t wish for anybody to end up in a row between the staff and owner, when you need to choose between money and what is right.

She explains that the Chief Editor refused to remove a contentious interview. “As a result he was dismissed. The editorial office went on strike over censorship.

As the experience of Gazeta po-kievski shows, a battle with the owner, in our case, millionaire Mokhammad Zahoor, is doomed to failure. At best we’ll strike and then fizzle out and give in. At worst they’ll sack us. They’ll find new people immediately, after all the market is full of good journalists, editors, photographers and designers and few good publications”.

As well as the doomed nature of the protest, the journalist admits that she didn’t need such conflict for other, purely professional reasons, that she had projects she was looking forward to.

She explains that she signed the protest nonetheless - because the Chief Editor had supported her against attempts to put pressure and it was only decent, and because of the consequences of caving in.

“It’s no use pretending that it doesn’t affect me as a journalist who hasn’t written about politics for a long time. Censorship spreads quickly and is inclined to become self-censorship. Once you’ve overstepped professional standards, it’s almost impossible to return.

Today we remove a controversial interview with a minister, and by tomorrow I’ll be softening the sharp edges to my apolitical material. I’ll stop speaking with people directly, writing articles by email, basing them on the mindless texts from press services. And then I’ll stop seeing clearly, won’t even try to explain what doesn’t come easily or get to the truth when it’s being concerned. I’ll basically stop being a normal journalist.

You’re not on Maidan now” Mokhammad Zahoor warned us. And he’s absolutely right – we’re far from civic battle. We just want to work without self-contempt..

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