• 2000-07-06
Two hours after the Latvian wire services first reported on the
defacing of the Jewish memorial in Riga, the reports of Latvian VIPs'
attitude to the incident appeared. They stated condemnation and

The next day, leading Latvian newspapers, writing both in Latvian and
Russian reported identically on the topic. Now the reading audience
knows perfectly well what Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Andris Berzins
think on the problem.

Thank you, unknown someone, who raged on the memory of 400 Jews
killed in 1941 and on the feelings of millions of sympathizers living
now. The local wire service journalists wrote two other stories.

It does not matter that the regrets of the president and prime
minister are just the words humans are physically predisposed to
utter. The more telltale fact that police failed to investigate
previous similar acts of vandalism does not matter either.

The number of words is what matters to journalists, since it
transfers into zeros on your account.

After 10 years of "transition," the royalties system in the Latvian
media is still the most popular. The major feature of the dragging on
trial of the "democratization" of the Latvian media is making
front-page news out of VIP utterances. In other words, making good
contacts with the spokesmen and spokeswomen and producing publicity
for the state functionaries and a desirable image for state

It results in two things. First, sources admit only selected press
people, thus creating uneven competition in the media environment.
The General Prosecutor's office is a good example. Second, it
distorts the sense of journalists' responsibility - quoting is
different from writing original news items.

But does it add to the news value?

On July 3 and July 4, LETA reported on prosecutor Laima Muceniece's
trip to Moscow to investigate the Kalejs case in Russia's archives.
We knew when she got in and got off the train. Sorry, but what
results has she achieved?

We learn from the wire services and the leading national dailies what
the prosecutor general thinks about cooperation with Russia, the
extradition treaty with Australia, on Latvia's success prosecuting
war crimes.

And so we read not about what happened, but about who said, thought,
planned, believed, considered, stated, asserted, stressed,
maintained, accused, condemned, emphasized, regretted...

Wait. Have lost the thread. What?