July 01, 2009

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Vladimir Mukusev was the first to talk about repressions, the KGB, informers and defense lawyers, and his TeleBridge with Phil Donahue is still fondly remembered throughout the former USSR. Over his 35-year career in journalism, Mukusev has hosted live broadcasts, worked as a cameraman and director, hosted programs for youth and investigated the disappearance of his colleagues in conflict zones. And he was the first Soviet recipient of an Emmy award. As a deputy to the Supreme Soviet, he brought a court case against the Powers That Be, called for burying Lenin and initiated Russia’s first law on the mass media. Mikhail Gorbachev reportedly swore and threw his slippers at the television screen when Mukusev and his Vzglyad program came on. Today, Mukusev teaches journalism to St. Petersburg students. Un-loved by the Powers That Be, for more than 10 years he has been forbidden from appearing on national television. He was interviewed for Russian Life by Anastasia Osipova, during his visit to Rostov-on-Don to lead journalism master classes.

In one of your master classes, you said that “contemporary Russian television has prostituted itself.” What is your opinion of the situation with print media?

When it comes to Russian mass media, you really cannot use words like “all, no one, always, never.” Our media are as varied as the journalists who work in them. In the master class, I was talking about trends. The closer the media is to power, the more their situation is akin to that of a “client” or a “call girl.” This primarily relates to the biggest media outlets: the two major television channels. Across the rest of the media landscape, I could name dozens, if not hundreds, of excellent journalists, examples of true selflessness, bravery and professionalism. And we should not forget that, over the last 20 years, we have buried more than 200 of our colleagues – they died because they were journalists.

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