Belarus in Focus: Even experienced journalists know only Lukashenka and Chyzh

‘Solidarity with Belarus’ Information Office (Warsaw) presented the results of the contest for foreign journalists Belarus in Focus in Minsk.

The coordinator of the project Alexandra Kirby says that the main idea of the contest is to analyze events in Belarus through the eyes of foreign journalists, their publications in foreign mass media, and to see how adequate they are to the real status quo. This year the contest has been held for the second time and gathered 36 journalists with 60 articles about Belarus from 16 countries – even such exotic as Indonesia and Costa-Rico.

“Meanwhile, one should admit that materials about events in Belarus very often look improbable, they are full of stereotypes. In order to spare foreign readers from these stereotypes about Belarus, one should collect such materials, assess them and allow a possibility for Belarusian journalists also share their information about the country with their foreign colleagues,” says Alexandra Kirby.

An online guide about Belarus was created for foreign journalists within the project – here you can find a fact file, contacts, addresses of the most famous and influential people of Belarus.

One of the winners of this year’s contest Laurent Vinatier also shared his views about Belarus: “Texts of European journalists about Belarus have lots of clichés, like “part of Russia”, “last dictatorship”, “lack of democracy”. To tell the truth, when they are not in the text, it is difficult to convince the editor to publish the material about Belarus,” said Laurent Vinatier.

Notably, after the presentation Laurent Vinatier confessed that in fact he knows little about the country. He recalled a failed attempt to take an interview from the well-known businessman Yury Chyzh. And he addressed his colleagues with quite a wide-spread question: “What else can be written about Belarus?”

The presentation closed with a speech of the deputy chair of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), chief editor of the Internet newspaper Salidarnasts (Solidarity) Aliaksandr Starykevich:“If we feel pains for our country, we often tend to think that all the others feel the same. However, one should realize that very often there are much more significant events in the world. In the meantime, one should remember that it was the pressure of the media, including the foreign media, which has stopped many negative processes in Belarus. Firstly, it is disappearance of people. It has become impossible to give a short shrift to the opponents of the authorities when it started to be reported all over the world. So, we all need such projects like the contest Belarus in focus.”

Belsat, following

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