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  • Media Representatives Join Strategy of Independent Media Sector in Belarus

    Declaration of the Strategy of Independent Media sector in Belarus for 2019-2024 was signed in BAJ office.

    More than 30 people put their signatures on the document. Anyone who shares the ideas and values articulated in the Strategy can join.

    Media experts Iryna Vidanava and Pauliuk Bykouski

    An expert group of media rep­re­sen­ta­tives has spent almost 2 years to devel­op the Strat­e­gy of inde­pen­dent media sec­tor in Belarus. 

    — Many things affect­ing the media have changed since we start­ed, there have been devel­op­ments that led to major changes in strate­gic plans of the media — Iry­na Vidana­va, media expert and mem­ber of the BAJ Board, began the meet­ing.

    — We began the work on the strat­e­gy on Feb­ru­ary 2, 2017. The first meet­ing was attend­ed by over 20 rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the media sec­tor in Belarus. Since then we have met five times to dis­cuss the con­tent and the exact word­ing of the strat­e­gy. BAJ deputy chair­per­son Ali­na Suravets men­tioned the most active team mem­bers who worked on the Strat­e­gy: Maria Sadouskaya-Kom­lach, Uladz­imir Dzi­u­ba, Siarhei Vahanau, Tat­siana Mel­nichuk, Andrei Bas­tunets, Pauliuk Byk­ous­ki, Vitaut Rud­nik, and Iry­na Nihreye­va from Ukraine.

    BAJ deputy chairperson Alina Suravets


    Suravets says, the sign­ing of the Strat­e­gy should be fol­lowed by cre­ation of a coor­di­na­tion group, the­mat­ic work­ing groups, com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the pub­lic, and mon­i­tor­ing the results of the Start­e­gy imple­men­ta­tion. Among oth­er ideas, there were pro­pos­als to gath­er annu­al­ly to sum up the results and dis­cuss fur­ther plans.

    — The Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists has active­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in the prepa­ra­tion of the strat­e­gy, how­ev­er, it is not the strat­e­gy of BAJ, but of a large num­ber of play­ers on the media mar­ket. BAJ is not the sole own­er of the doc­u­ment, it is owned by the whole com­mu­ni­ty. This is an impor­tant doc­u­ment, as it spells out our val­ues. This is a small, but a very sig­nif­i­cant step to grow uni­ty in our com­mu­ni­ty, — said Ali­na Surovets.

    — What is the inde­pen­dent media sec­tor? — that is the main ques­tion. The inde­pen­dent media sec­tor in Belarus is very diverse, with dif­fer­ent non-state media and all kinds of con­tent — social, polit­i­cal, enter­tain­ment, news, includ­ing niche pub­li­ca­tions, as well as for­eign media tar­get­ing the Belaru­sian audi­ence, and fran­chis­es, reg­is­tered in Belarus. The inde­pen­dent media sec­tor also includes NGOs (mem­ber­ship asso­ci­a­tions of jour­nal­ists, media own­ers and media man­agers), as well as inde­pen­dent con­sul­tants and media experts, ser­vice non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions, adver­tis­ing agen­cies, and oth­er satel­lites of the inde­pen­dent media mar­ket, — media expert Pauliuk Byk­ous­ki explains the tar­get audi­ence of the Start­e­gy.

    Discussing the Strategy. Yahor Martsinovich, Nasha Niva editor-in-chief

    It should be empha­sized that the inde­pen­dent media help peo­ple to con­sume infor­ma­tion con­scious­ly, and to make choic­es based on com­plete and accu­rate infor­ma­tion, and cre­ate a sus­tain­able envi­ron­ment for the exchange of views and for­ma­tion of basic civ­il rights and free­doms.

    «The def­i­n­i­tion of an inde­pen­dent media sec­tor plays the role of a sieve, to some extent. It does let those who do not share our val­ues to join our com­mu­ni­ty — Byk­ous­ki explains.

    The Startegy is to workwith the following challenges:

    - Polit­i­cal pres­sure, restric­tion of free­dom of speech and activ­i­ty of inde­pen­dent media.

    - Lack of fund­ing, small­er funds avail­able in the mar­ket for inde­pen­dent media, while the media mar­ket is dom­i­nat­ed by the Russ­ian media.

    - Per­son­nel prob­lems of inde­pen­dent media: brain drain, low salaries, lack of mar­ket­ing, sales and SME spe­cial­ists, etc..

    - Changes in media con­sump­tion — audi­ences going online, in social media and instant mes­sen­gers, con­tent con­sump­tion on mobile devices, increase in the video and live-stream­ing areas. 

    - Lack of coop­er­a­tion in the sec­tor — weak co-oper­a­tion, neg­a­tive effects of com­pe­ti­tion for lim­it­ed resources (finan­cial, human and oth­er).

    - Lack of fund­ing, rsmall­er funds avail­able in the mar­ket for inde­pen­dent media while the media mar­ket is dom­i­nat­ed by the Russ­ian media, while onine plat­forms (Google, Youtube, Face­book, Yan­dex) dom­i­nate the glob­al media mar­ket.

    - copy­right infringe­ment by mem­bers of the media sec­tor — the mis­use of some­one else’s con­tent, lack of self-reg­u­la­tion in the field of copy­right.


    Discussing the Strategy. Iryna Vidanava,  Pavel Sviardlou, and Pauliuk Bykouski

    The Strategy defines the following priorities, building on the challenges:

    - Over­com­ing legal and polit­i­cal restric­tions on the free­dom of speech;

    - Strength­en­ing the finan­cial sus­tain­abil­i­ty of the inde­pen­dent media sec­tor in Belarus;

    - Capac­i­ty build­ing for media per­son­nel and jour­nal­ists;

    - Adjust­ment of inde­pen­dent media to changes in media con­sump­tion;

    - Devel­op­ment of self-reg­u­la­tion in the field of copy­right.

    The following objectives have been set:

    - to mon­i­tor and pub­lish infor­ma­tion on the vio­la­tions of the free­dom of expres­sion in Belarus;

    - to pro­mote the imple­men­ta­tion and pro­tec­tion of the rights and inter­ests of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the inde­pen­dent media sec­tor, and free­dom of expres­sion;

    - to advo­cate for leg­isla­tive changes in the field of free­dom of expres­sion and mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions with a view to lib­er­al­iza­tion;

    - to pro­vide con­tin­u­ous legal edu­ca­tion of jour­nal­ists and edi­tors, and oth­er rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the inde­pen­dent media sec­tor;

    - to strength­en the capac­i­ty of media lawyers;

    - to pro­mote the val­ue of the free­dom of speech in Belarus;

    - to defend the inter­ests of free­lance jour­nal­ists;

    - to build com­pe­tence of media man­agers in the field of con­tent man­age­ment, human resources, finance, and strate­gic plan­ning;

    - to secure the finan­cial sus­tain­abil­i­ty of the Belaru­sian media through inno­v­a­tive approach­es to devel­op­ment of a media busi­ness;

    - to improve coop­er­a­tion between the key actors of the Belaru­sian inde­pen­dent media sec­tor;

    - to improve the sys­tem of jour­nal­ists train­ing;

    - to defend labor and social rights of media work­ers and to facil­i­tate con­flict res­o­lu­tion;

    - to research new trends in media con­sump­tion and inform indus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives about their pos­si­ble impact;

    - to strength­en the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the inde­pen­dent Belaru­sian media in the new envi­ron­ment of media con­sump­tion;

    - to devel­op mul­ti­plat­for­mi­ty;

    - to estab­lish mech­a­nisms for con­flict res­o­lu­tion in the field of copy­right;

    - to pro­vide edu­ca­tion and coun­sel­ing on copy­right and to sup­port self-reg­u­la­tion in this area.

    The doc­u­ment is the result of coop­er­a­tion of var­i­ous actors, includ­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of both large and small pub­li­ca­tions, asso­ci­a­tions and indi­vid­u­als. We have tak­en a sig­nif­i­cant step to under­stand the sit­u­a­tion and now have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to build on this doc­u­ment — believes Pauliuk Byk­ous­ki .

    — The strat­e­gy was cre­at­ed pri­mar­i­ly for domes­tic use Belarus, but, in the inter­na­tion­al are­na, the doc­u­ment can also become an excel­lent foun­da­tion for under­stand­ing the sit­u­a­tion in the Belaru­sian media sec­tor, — Iry­na Vidana­va says.

    — The strat­e­gy can change depend­ing on the changes in the envi­ron­ment. I believe it is a great idea to hold a coor­di­na­tion meet­ing every year and review some aspects of the Strat­e­gy, to keep pace with the time, — Andrei Bas­tunets points out.

    Pauliuk Bykouski and BAJ ex-chairperson Zhanna Litvina

    — I want to con­grat­u­late every­one on the fact that the com­mu­ni­ty has come to a com­mon strat­e­gy and a com­mon vision of the sit­u­a­tion. This is a small attempt to move for­ward in the devel­op­ment of the media sec­tor, — added BAJ ex-chair Zhan­na Litv­ina .

    Pauliuk Byk­ous­ki was the first to sign the Dec­la­ra­tion of the Strat­e­gy of inde­pen­dent media sec­tor in Belarus.  More than 30 edi­tors and jour­nal­ists of inde­pen­dent media of the coun­try signed the doc­u­ment.

    One can read through the Start­e­gy and sign the Dec­la­ra­tion at BAJ office.

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