Managers of Russia's new media have informed their journalists that from now on 50% of the news must be positive:
At their first meeting with journalists since taking over Russia's largest independent radio news network, the managers had startling news of their own: from now on, they said, at least 50 percent of the reports about Russia must be "positive."
In addition, opposition leaders could not be mentioned on the air and the United States was to be portrayed as an enemy, journalists employed by the network, Russian News Service, say they were told by the new managers, who are allies of the Kremlin.
How would they know what constituted positive news?
"When we talk of death, violence or poverty, for example, this is not positive," said one editor at the station who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. "If the stock market is up, that is positive. The weather can also be positive."
No word on whether reality intends to comply with this restriction.
Dear News Czar: I am positive that things here are totally screwed up.
So, does the passing of Boris Jeltsin count as positive or negative in the eyes of the Kremlin. And how would an editor know, except by asking a censor in advance? And if that is needed, why even continue the pretense of free media acting under a "publish and be damned" policy...?
When i was last in Russia (ten years ago), it was difficult to find much in the way of true optimism. Perhaps they could find positive blogs to learn how it's done.