Friday, September 12, 2008

The president is coming!

The preparations for the president's visit here are accelerating. Today the main street was closed, as fresh cross-walks were painted. A whole string of projects is prepared for his arrival: a new hotel, stadium, airport, and a renovated culture center. A couple of my students are writing about the projects. I think it's interesting - just in the scope of preparations.

Of course, I've talked to numerous local citizens who are fairly cynical about the visit. People aren't stupid. They know that Azerbaijan has much natural wealth & they wonder why they don't see more of that in the hands of ordinary citizens.

Nonetheless, I'm sure many people are excited about the visit, if only because of the many new projects that connected to it. Of course, Zaqatala isn't alone. This set of ceremonial openings is coordinated across the country, as the nation prepares for presidential elections on Oct. 15. Today I was reading Baku Worker, a government paper written in Russian. The entire paper is devoted to speeches given at these ceremonial events.

The coverage brings new meaning to the words "boring" and "synchophantic." Here is a picture of the president cutting a ribbon. Here is a picture of him at the podium. Here is a picture of him cutting another ribbon. The speeches - particularly the speeches welcoming him - are really embarassingly effusive.

So, these are the examples of journalism with which my students are familiar. I'm not saying it's not journalism - but it is a completely different activity than what I teach.