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Parfyonov’s Principled Stand

Tom Fenton has an interesting article in Global Post on Russia’s “Murrow moment.”

Leonid Parfyonov’s stunning speech to Russian TV executives at an award ceremony in November was ignored by Russian state television, but you can watch it on YouTube. His black tie audience listened in deadpan shock as a very nervous Parfyonov said out loud what everyone in the audience, and indeed in all of Russia, knew to be the truth.

Following a post-Soviet decade in which Russian television was allowed a degree of editorial freedom, the Kremlin has turned the nationwide television networks into government mouthpieces. Television entertainment has become slick and professional — mindless amusement for the masses — but news has been put in a straightjacket.

Parfyonov spoke bluntly. “Media stories, and with them all of life, now fall into two immutable categories: those that can be broadcast on television and that cannot.”

Television news has become “state PR,” as it was in the time of the USSR. “These days a national TV channel correspondent’s top bosses are not news makers but his boss’ bosses.”