Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy: Now we understand our values better

After four years of Belsat work its directorship and employees have renewed the list of values declared and advocated by the independent channel.
1. Freedom and independence of exchange of ideas and opinions.
2. Truth as pursuit of knowing the present posture of affairs.
3. Political democracy and equality before the law.
4. Right of man to choose their own path.
5. Faith and spiritual values.
6. Independence and sovereignty of Belarus.
7. Culture and language of Belarus at home and abroad.
8. History and European roots of Belarus.
9. Tolerance and respect for rights of minorities and outstanding Belarusian traditions in this field.
10. Diversity of opinions.
11. Non-conformist attitude and initiative.
12. Civil society formation and civil solidarity development.
Belsat Director Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy tells about the channel’s values and their sense.
According to the ground plan, Belsat TV was to be a common TV channel which informs Belarusians of news in their native language and works for the sake of Belarusian democracy. Why has the list of its values been expanded so much?
In fact, we have not added any items to it. We have just voiced some moments which were indisputable. When a company has developed it is time one set particular goals. For the first two years we had been building this unprecedented project from scratch, later our work was devoted to its development and survival. Taking into account this experience now we have an opportunity of creating our image and mission in the viewers’ eyes.
What way were the values set up?
It was a creative process, so called brainstorm. A great deal of Belsat journalists and directors gathered together and discussed under the supervision of our coach Leszek Melibruda, a business psychology expert, which thing is number one for us. We were setting out the priorities, i.e. the things we all can accept. Such list can not appear as a result of voting. We needed consensus so that each could put their name to the list.
You have named twelve Belsat values. In your opinion, which of them are the most crucial?
It is not me who set them in hierarhic order; I was also against imposing my view to the employees. Opinions may slightly vary. The values can be classified by four fundamental issues.
The first group is the issues associated with the broadly defined concept of freedom.
Indeed. We put “freedom and independence of exchange of ideas and opinions” first. It is of central importance to us because we are developing a television channel, or a mass medium. If you ask me, “truth as pursuit of knowing the present posture of affairs” is an aspect of first-rate significance. We are not talking about truth in the philosophical sense of the word; what is meant here is desire to show reality. A journalist saying only “Mr X said something but Mr Y said differently” does not provide information to his readers or viewers in a proper way. All mass media must be aimed at checking facts. As a rule, a reader or viewer can not do it on their own because of a certain situation or their whereabouts. They are not able to clear something up and we must do it for them and instead of them. Therein lay journalists’ respect for their reader and viewer.
As usual, Belsat stresses its traditionally democratic profile.
We are not admirers of any Belarusian political party or definite politician. We popularise equality before the law and the human right to choose own path. The question of faith and spiritual values provoked a heated dispute. We are not a religious organisation. Nobody is expected to be a believer. Nevertheless, we give weight to spiritual values. Belarus inherited communists’ indifference to religion, which brings incredible primitivism to the conception of man and his needs. In the course of the dispute we concluded that Belarusians are in want of spirituality. Its absence causes people to believe in absolutely fabulous things such as astrology, fortune-tellers, etc. What we wanted to stress is that man is a creature needing spiritual life. However, it does not mean that we are eager to promote some definite views of religion.
Since the very beginning promotion of the Belarusian language has been a hallmark of Belsat TV…
It is one of the aspects of our mission, which is grounded on supporting ideas of independence, sovereignty, language and cultural improvement in Belarus. These issues are essential for a country’s existence. In the context we place emphasis on the European roots of Belarus. Tolerance and respect for rights of minorities are also in focus. Belarus is a country where various cultures, religions, different ethnic groups’ traditions and languages have mingled, where the East borders on the West. We believe that tolerance as a value which is worth creating.
The values related to citizenship are mentioned as well.
Belsat TV popularises the values which Belarus lacks: for instance, nonconformist attitude and civic engagement. We do not want that the state and its bodies will be the only model for Belarusians what was a characteristic feature of the Soviet system. The post-communist societies are divided very much; that is why we lay stress on the formation of relations and civil solidarity development. In the countries of the former USSR the state did not consolidate its people, everyone lived on their own. People fended only for themselves. All post-Soviet societies are having difficulty renewing civil relations.
What way do the values manifest themselves in the channel’s work?
We are going to pay special attention to programs promoting the values above. I mean social and political journalism and documentaries. We would like the values to be in the functioning of Belsat TV and our workers remember them all the time.
What way could Belsat viewers show their attitude to them?
We are about to conduct a campaign in Facebook. We are going to ask thousands of our followers which of the values above are the most impotant to them. It is expected to be a very interesting social experiment. We would like to know which thing is above all for them: ideas of freedom, political issues, the development of civic achievements or at last the popularisation of national ideas.
The fifth anniversary of the channel’s birthday is coming on. What are your prospects?
We are to develop the channel, particularly its information sector. We are currently working on the introduction of live broadcasting. Then, we have an intention to become a patron of Belarusian independent cinema, i.e to work with experienced authors, bring youth up, make and promote independent documentaries. We dream of the first independent Belarusian series… Our documentaries were awarded at Polish and international festivals. We would like to become more socially useful. Even now we support a number of cultural events; our educational programs in History and Belarusian will be published as study aids for teachers and pupils.
Conducted by Jakub Biernat
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