Sanctity of Motherhood

“It is easier to read articles that have just one point of view”

“It is easier to read articles that have just one point of view”

Andrey Murashov, Deputy Head of the Press and Media Agency of the Arkhangelsk region, welcomed the participants of the round table.

Andrey Murashov opened the session of the round table saying that there is a lack of systemic approach in their work. According to the speaker, there is a good example of cooperation – “Children are not strangers” programme. “Pomorye” STVRC broadcasts this programme with support of child protection  and custody services of the Arkhangelsk region. “This collaboration experience should be supported by the State order or law about the grant system” – he believes. Andrey called the programme about orphans in search for parents a strong system. “I think we should  develop in this direction. We should create more humane content. My wife was crying when she saw the programme “Children are not strangers” for the first time” - he finished this welcome speech. 

Elena Stolyarova, Assistant Professor of the Department of Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations of the Higher School of Social and Humanitarian Sciences and International Communication, told about the research in the field of social issues based on materials from different press. The research was conducted by students of the Department. In the research on “The portrait of Russian family in the contemporary press” students calculated the amount of materials about family which were published within a year; they also assessed the quality of the materials. Following the results of the research the students of the Department expressed their feelings that mass media create their own picture about the society which in fact does not correlate with the reality. 

“It is necessary to develop sections with experts’ opinions related to family matters, the issues concerning babies’ birth.  Many editions have this topic; they have plenty of stories about people’s lives. A lot of texts about family are mainly information materials about the Russian law” – said Elena.  In their works the students focused on bad quality of the content. Quite often they just take press-releases from the police related to criminal cases. “Our students expressed their opinion that soon the relationships people see in “House-2” TV show will be treated as normal. Mostly all the scandalous but extremely popular TV programmes  are the propaganda of anti-family values and low moral standards” – she explained. According to the results of the Faculty’s research, “Pravda Severa” newspaper and “Arkhangelsk” newspaper appeared to be the most family-oriented local papers. The editorial policy of “Pravda Severa” is to show the positive image of a large family. Besides, their materials are presented with different genres. Such an approach is based on the state policy.

The students noticed that “Domashny” TV channel is particular for its family-oriented approach.  “We would like to have something like that in the Arkhangelsk region as well” – said Elena in her closing speech. After the report a discussion was held. Elena told the participants that in most cases the press in the Arkhangelsk region is writing about family problems; in some cases they offer the solutions for the problems. Alexander Gatilin told about social research works which show that regardless of the real situation people create the image of an ideal family as a traditional family with several children.

Svetlana Manevskaya, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Arkhangelsk region, had the next presentation. She told that the budget of the Ministry comprises the means for cooperation with mass media. Such a policy is absolutely reasonable; the joint project “Children are not strangers” has huge feedback from the society. Svetlana Manevskaya  assured the participants that the policy of interaction with the press will be continued. According to her, such a policy resulted in significant decrease of the amount of orphans in the Arkhangelsk region in recent years. Every year 500 new orphans appear in the data base. 75% of these orphans are social orphans, it means they have their parents who are alive. There are about  900 orphans in the data base. Since 2013 the amount of the orphans decreased by 20%. Within a year 70% of the children find new families. Over a thousand of substitute families are large families. The challenging aspect of the Russian situation is that the data base of orphans includes difficult children; teenagers, brothers and sisters, disabled children.

The successful project of the Ministry and the press is the agreement with the First channel about video-passports of orphans that can be broadcast by the channel. Svetlana told that out of 93 children whose video-passports were presented in “Poka vse doma” TV show (“While everybody is at home”) 70 orphans were adopted.

 “The topic related to orphans is not always covered objectively.  Journalists  should understand that 70% of children are difficult teenagers, boys. In order to accept such a child a person should be a mature and experienced parent. People should not adopt children without thinking” – explained Svetlana sharing her point of view.

Svetlana Agapitova, Children’s Commissioner in Saint-Petersburg, shared her impressions: the authorities began to respond to the materials which are published in the press. According to Svetlana, the state should not focus so much on legislative regulations for mass media materials. According to her, moral upbringing of children is parents’ responsibility.  As an example she told the popular story of Diana Shurygina, the girl who participated in “Pust Govoryat” TV show (“Let them speak”). She came there with her mother and told that she had been raped. Svetlana reminded that according to the law, which protects children from harmful information, parents should give their consent for their child to take part in such a TV show. According to Commissioner, it is impossible to prohibit parents to bring their children to such kind of TV programmes. She reminded about the Code of Journalist which states that a journalist should cover all the aspects of the problem. The task of mass media is to make the people think about the issue. A one-sided point of view attracts young people but Svetlana believes that it brainwashes them. “I have a feeling that for a reader it is easier to read articles where there is just one point of view” – she said.  

Many speakers mentioned the topic of teenage suicides. “Build trustworthy relations with your child” – shared her recommendation Svetlana Agapitova. Tatyana Soboleva, a psychologist from “Nadezhda” centre, said the same. According to her, journalists should listen to psychologists’ opinions more often. It is imperative to invite psychologists to share their expert opinion in materials about children. If a journalist is writing or making a film about suicides or child abuse it is important to place a telephone of crisis hotline at the end.  “While preparing the materials about family journalists should not include comments of people who are in affective state” – said Tatyana.

“Children Board of Saint-Petersburg asked blogger Sobolev, who is a star for teenagers in the city, to be socially responsible and to tell children about dangerous things in Internet” – said the Children’s Commissioner.

Olga Smirnova, Representative of Governor of the Arkhangelsk region on Children Rights, said about the close cooperation with local papers.

“I think many journalists work just like us. Children’s Commissioners consider a case at all the angles. Journalists also try to learn the truth. If we work together with journalists we can expect a positive result. There are some mass media in the Arkhangelsk region which treat the children issues seriously. And we cooperate with them” – she said at the end of her speech.

Alexander Gatilin, Head of Public Relations Department of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, told about projects of “Sanctity of Motherhood”  programme. He said that the family topic is still not included in the list of high-priority topics and tasks of the information policy of federal and regional authorities. For four years the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called holds the All-Russian Contest for Journalists “Family and the Future of Russia”. The prize fund has 1 million Rubles. The nominations include: TV, Radio, printed press and Internet mass media. “We hope very much that you will take part in the contest” – said Alexander addressing his words to the press representatives of the Arkhangelsk region.  He told that after the first contest “Family and the Future of Russia” the Association of Journalists was established at the initiative of journalists for those who cover the family topic.  The Association includes 120 journalists from regional mass media. For members of the Association the Foundation organizes educational and expert webinars. They also plan to launch new online courses in September as part of the large-scale project called “The School of Social Journalism”.  The Foundation organizes educational seminars in the regions which have signed cooperation agreements.  In autumn they will organize such a workshop for journalists from regional and municipal mass media in Arkhangelsk.

At the end representatives of local mass media took the floor: Sergey Nikolayev, Director of “Pomorye” branch; Ekaterina Kurzeneva, “Severny Rabochy” newspaper; Natalia Parakhnevich, journalist from “Pravda Severa” newspaper; Andrey Karassov, director and script-writer, author of “They need us” film.

Ekaterina Kurzeneva, editor of “Severny Rabochy” newspaper, told how the top newspaper in Arkhangelsk  helped a large family. On the New Year’s eve the article with the headline “Father the Frost – a flat-related issue” was published in the newspaper. A journalist visited a family with six children who lived in a communal apartment (a flat several families share). The same year the article was published the family got a three-room flat in a “Khrushchev” house (the type of houses built in the Soviet times), and the governor presented a big vehicle for the family. Some time later the family was moved to a new building. “The material made officials move” – thinks Ekaterina. 

Olga Zyabko

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