Thursday, April 21, 2005

Also at Abdymok today, a very interesting Kyiv Post interview with Mikhail Kukhar, editor of the Kievskiye Vedomosti business section:

[...] kp: how would you assess ukraine’s economic miracle so far?

mk: i’m extremely disappointed by chances that have already been missed because of the left-wing thinking of new government leaders.

we began the year with 12 upbeat articles expecting improvements in each sector of the economy. they were all upbeat, odes to bold new plans announced by the new authorities. but the euphoria began to wear off a month and a half later.


kp: what approach would you have advised?

mk: a liberal one. some one who thinks liberally solves an economic problem based on his level of education and ideology. if you walk up to jeffry sachs, or to george soros, or the georgian economy minister kakha bendukidze and say, “we have this ownership problem with krivoryzhstal, can you help us sort it out?” they would probably advise, “let them keep it.” of course, they would agree that the full price wasn’t paid for the plant initially, but i don’t think they would make a public fuss about ownership rights because that would deter foreign investment – something ukraine’s government needs to pay out salaries and pensions. to put people’s standard of living in jeopardy because of a conflict with [former president’s son-in-law viktor] pinchuk is silly.

for socialists, on the other hand, what’s most important is social justice. “those who have not paid enough must pay.” it’s like ancient rome. let the world cave in, but justice must be done.


kp: why do you think coverage of economic news in ukraine remains so mediocre?

mk: because the media market here is not mature and the variety of publication formats remains limited. it’s the same in the czech republic and poland, where i recently took a look at business publications, the same ones i held in my hands 8-10 years ago. today those publications are chock full of advertisements, floating in money. the level of journalism, meanwhile, has hasn’t improved much.

kp: does the low level of qualifications explain the lack of a polemic between competing publications?

mk: what media here suffer from most is the acute lack of professional reporters. just ask any editor of any business publication what his biggest problem is and the answer will be “qualified journalists.”

unfortunately, conditions for competing for market share on the basis of content do not yet exist.


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