Observations of an American journalist in Azerbaijan, Russia and USA.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Class was fine today – but lacked energy. Only five students came. One of the guys is really not interested in journalism. I’m not really why he’s in the class. The other is completely owned by the government. All of the female students are better than the two guys.
One incident illustrates the problem facing just regular journalists here. We’re talking about stories & such. And one woman (the one I like most) describes how she was working on a story about student stipends. Many students only receive half of what they should. It’s common knowledge, and people complain among themselves about it. So – she started to write a story about it. She had talked to many people. The story was ready to go. The day before the publication, the newspaper ran a teaser about it. But publication of the story never came. Someone high up called the editor. This high-placed person said the story shouldn’t be published. So it wasn’t. End of story. The students are still only receiving about half of what they should get for their stipend.
And this is not a huge oil scandal or anything. This is a very concrete matter of people not getting something that they are owed by law. And the newspaper can’t write about it.
Tomorrow, I’m hoping to get more students. Even high school students would be good. The journalists who are already working in the system are in general disillusioned, cynical, apathetic or corrupt. Or all of the above. (The top photo is taken from a Sheki street. The others: a photo of the low hills on the road to Sheki & a shot of the waterfront of Baku at dawn.)