Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What's up with Olga Romanova?

Alistair (Ruminations on Russia blog) posted:

MosNews reports that TNT has taken Olga Romanova off the air allegedly because she reported that Sergei Ivanov's son would not be charged for killing a elderly women whilst driving. You would have to look pretty hard to find that piece of news in the Russian language.
It does not mark the end of free speech on broadcast television; it was already dead. It is however, another example of the 5th directorate thugs believing that they can control the flow of news when it proves to be embarrassing. The good news is that the Russian narod are at least 2 steps ahead of the thugs and no longer get their news from the television.

One needs to watch Olga Romanova’s analytical show only once to come to the conclusion – she’s a junk journalist. And it’s absolutely irrelevant if she’s pro-Western liberal or pro-Putin nationalist or anti-everyone anarcho-syndicalist. She’s sloppy, cynical and definitely suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. But her personal problems are of no importance if only she could do – before going on air – such simple things as (1) research, (2) thinking about problem she wants to talk about, (3) looking for logical integrity or (4) writing down some plan of the show. Ok, not the plan but just some notes, like “First, I talk about this and then about that”. I tried to watch Romanova’s show two times and both times I couldn’t stand the test. A couple of weeks ago she was “analyzing” the crash of a Russian MiG in Lithuania. I listened to this delirium for two minutes:

Generals from the Ministry of Defense said there were secrets about the poor MiG but today they said there are no secrets. So one day there are secrets but then they suddenly disappear. What happened to them? How comes secrets become not secrets? I mean secrets should be kept secret. Right? If secrets are not secret they are no secrets at all. No one calls not secret things secret. You know what I mean. But under Putin’s regime secrets suddenly become no secrets in just one day. What if we suppose that they were not secrets but were made secret by someone who loves secrecy?

And this verbal diarrhea goes on and on and on and on… Romanova reminded me a freshman who wrote a 340 words essay and was thinking how broad should be margins so the essay could be 15 required pages long. In comparison with Romanova even Yilia Latynina sounds like a solid quality political analyst. At least Latynina always manages to insert a couple of non sequiturs into her columns. Romanova cannot do even that. But somehow we are supposed to view Romanova as a beacon of free and democratic journalism.

She wasn’t fired from RenTV. She just argued with security at the studio door. Somehow she got an idea that she was fired. She went hysterical, rushed to Ekho Moskvy Radio and gave an interview condemning Putin and his KGB hounds of crushing the freedom speech in Russia. Next morning at least a dozen of American and European newspapers run the story “Romanova is fired from RenTV. Free speech on broadcast television is dead”. I wonder if their readers’ memory span exceeds one week. When for a thousand and the first time they read about total annihilation of free speech in Russia, do they ever think, “Hey! Didn’t I read the very same story five years ago?” Like in a joke: Mr. Pupkin committed suicide by firing six shots into his head. One revealing fact: when it turned out that Romanova’s dismissal from RenTV was a false alarm, not a single Russia bashing newspaper even mentioned it.


Lyndon said...

Thanks for clarifying this story. I haven't had time to keep up with the news in the past few days, and I had some suspicion that the initial reports were blown out of proportion.

I would ask you, though, just because someone's a "junk journalist," does that mean they should they be kept off the air because they threatened to keep covering a controversial story involving a government official's son escaping prosecution? That is the real issue here, not the quality of Romanova's show (or lack thereof).

If I thought she had been cancelled or taken of the air (if that's even what's happened) because her show is no good, that's one thing, but that doesn't seem to have been the reason for whatever it was happened to her.

Konstantin said...

I'm a bit surprised. When did you watch RenTV news last time? It seems that they talk about nothing but that incident with Ivanov's son. Romanova's remark is absurd. Imagine an ORT reporter being fired because he wanted to make a flattering report on Putin's visit to Vladivostok?

Anonymous said...

I don't have much to comment on Romanova's professional skills as I haven't seen her analytical program 24 but here's another take on this controversy:
35% of RenTV's stocks now belongs to Surgutneftegaz... hmmm... I wonder if it has anything to do with Ortzhenikidze trying to shut her up.

And here's Romanova's personal account of the events, how that unfolded in RenTV's studio on the day when she was banned from going on the air:

In this interview to Radio Svoboda, among other things, she talks about her interview with Moscow's chief architect Tseriteli she did the day before the incident.

It wouldn't be fair to point out here that her program "24 with Olga Romanova" recently won TEFI award. Not that it means anything but...

And also, Konstantin, who's in your opinion not a "junk journalist" on Russian TV? Who's analytical programs would you rather watch?

FireBlade said...

You enriched my vocabulary with something very nice - "verbal diarrhea" Thank you very much :-)

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