Friday, February 03, 2006

What is Soviet Style Journalism

Edward Lozansky from Intelligent.ru writes about Pravda on Potomac.

During the Cold War the most vicious anti-American propaganda was carried by the Soviet newspaper Pravda, founded by none other than Vladimir (Nikolai) Lenin. The language used by Soviet journalists and commentators was so rude and hysterical that even people sympathetic to the Communist cause were turned off by it.

Since then, things have changed dramatically. That Pravda is out of business and the new Russian mainstream media have become quite civilized. This is not to say they are now very pro-American; some articles are quite critical of the US. However, the language used by Russian journalists is pretty professional, no longer resembling that of the Soviet times.
Ironically, in this zero-sum game it is now certain Western newspapers that have picked up the old Soviet style and use the tone and manners reminiscent of the good old Pravda vocabulary. The leader in this linguistic exchange is obviously the Washington Post. Read the Post’s Op-ed Editor Fred Hiatt’s articles on Russia, and you if have any nostalgia for agitprop you will be back in your element.


Johnson’s Russia List # 9327 carries two WP articles on Russia. One is signed by Mr. Hiatt, and the other is the editorial most likely written by him as well. As I went through both pieces I felt as if I were back in the USSR reading Kremlin propaganda stuff. Looking at some of the quotes: “…using energy revenue to prop up friendly dictators,” “buying a German ex-chancellor,” “clique of former KGB agents” — one can almost see Hiatt foaming at the mouth. He is also very unhappy with Bush for getting ready to go to St. Petersburg in July for the G-8 summit and for not giving orders to Putin on how much to charge for Russia’s natural gas.

I naively thought that America was trying to teach Russians to use free market mechanisms and that WTO is demanding that Russia use market prices for gas. A few clicks on Google showed that the real gas price these days is around $450 per 1000 cubic meters. Russia’s latest offer to Ukraine is almost half of that, but Mr. Hiatt believes that it is too high and demands that the White House jump both feet first into the gas war.

Dr. Edward Lozansky graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics & Engineering, and received his Ph.D. in theoretical and mathematical physics from the Moscow Institute of Atomic Energy. After graduation he worked as a nuclear physicist in leading research institutions in Moscow and was also a Professor of Physics at the Military Tank Academy. In 1975 he lost all of his research and teaching positions for publicly criticizing Soviet foreign and domestic policies. Subsequently, in 1976 Dr. Lozansky moved to the United States where he did research and taught at the University of Rochester, NY and American University in Washington, DC.

Dr. Lozansky is President of the American University in Moscow, the first private university in Russia which he founded in 1990. He is also the founder and President of Kontinent USA Media group which publishes newspapers, magazines and books. Dr. Lozansky is the author of 12 books and over 400 articles in the areas of science and humanities.

6 comments:

Tim Newman said...

A lot of western journalists bashing Russia now are the same ones who used to praise the Soviet Union. They are generally left-wingers who mourn the death of communism and gleefully point to every failing in a Russian under capitalism.

I'm not sure if this Hiatt chap falls into that category - probably not - but it is fair to say that journalism is pretty poor around the world these days; western journalism concerning Russia is particularly bad; and Russian journalism concerning, well, anything is equally bad.

My publication of choice is The Economist. I've found them to be as informed and objective as any, and I find I haven't gone too wrong subscribing to it.

Anonymous said...

Hahahahah The Economist! Objective ! Hahahahha !!! If I could only find the article where they describe the french-canadian political party "Bloc Qu?b?cois" as a "neo-fascist nationalist organisation" and the Liberal Party as a socialist party ! Socialist ! Hahahahah! If that's what you call objective, you have a serious lack of knowledge about the WORLD.

Oh my god, thanks for the laugh !

W. Shedd said...

Almost all media points of view in the US are very conservative. Much of this is due to American's being fed-up with our domestic form of liberalism, which doesn't really have much to offer. When we gaze across the Atlantic at France's 10% unemployment, muslim riots, high taxes, and 30 hour work week ... we don't see much to be emulated there.

That being said, I feel that Konstantin and the sources he quotes, completely miss the boat on the Western Media. No credible western politician or media source objects to Russia increasing the price of its gas to match market prices. But the methodology employed by Putin and Gazprom are blatantly heavy-handed and amount to black-mail. For Putin to smugly announce on New Years day, that the gas was being shut off ... was a calculated performance designed to push Ukraine and to please the Russian public.

As to some of your other quotes ... Russia is propping up Alexander Lukashenko with a gas deal. He is at best authoritarian and at worse a dictator. And it certainly does appear that Gazprom bought a German ex-chancellor. Putin and many of those he surrounds himself with are former KGB (Bush Sr. was ex-CIA also, for that matter).

You can love your country and still criticize it, Konstantin. You too often come across as believing that Russia is a perfect place. This is very Bush-like. Most every other Russian I know freely acknowledges that the Russian government is very corrupt, at all levels ... to a greater extent than in the West. Much of this is economics ... but it exists just the same. Some even seem to take a perverse sort of pride in this fact.

I won't even get started on the Russian government and its tactics in Iran. Again, the Russians that I know think Putin is crazy to be arming Iran and only a fool thinks that Iran has no nuclear weapons ambitions.

Anyway, I expect you to rabidly deny any of this as being even slightly factual.

Anonymous said...

I concur; W. Shedd’s rabid denials of facts are undeniable. Nothing new there…

Tim Newman said...

If that's what you call objective, you have a serious lack of knowledge about the WORLD.

Reluctant though I am to attempt to engage in sensible debate with somebody who has so effectively demonstrated an unwillingness or inability to do so, I'm going to ask which publications you consider to be objective.

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