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Home / Other / Analysis / MEDIA CITY Open for All

MEDIA CITY Open for All

Millions of viewings and listening, hundreds of comments, likes, and reposts of social network users have been collected into materials prepared by Uzbekistani and foreign journalists in Uzbekistan’s first “Press-Club: Elections.uz-2016” unique platform on the coverage of the elections of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

During the election campaign the press-club, set up by the non-government media of Uzbekistan, turned, according to the opinion of Aga Ikrar Kharun, Editor-in-Chief of the Dispatch New Desk (DND) internet publication, who had arrived for covering the elections, into a truly “media city” for journalists. It is important to note that the lion’s share of these materials was prepared in modern popular formats, which have not been used before in covering the elections or they were used in very limited scope.

MULTIMEDIA PLATFORM FOR NEW OPPORTUNITIES

It is human nature to improve and perfect everything around him. Journalists tend to find themselves in search of information and ways to deliver it in operative and accessible form to their audiences. Nothing can withstand these principles of journalistic professionalism.

What does a journalist need for quality coverage of the most important political event in the country: presidential elections, the course of which is closely followed not only in Uzbekistan but also far away in foreign countries? A clear cut answer to this question was given by non-government mass media. Realizing the responsibility and making use of advanced information-communication technologies, the National Association of Electronic Mass Media (NAEMM), the “Uzbekistan Today” and Uzreport Information Agencies, TV channels “Menim Yurtim”, Internet TV channel “Sevimli-TV.uz”, “Darakchi Inform Service” p.l.c., “Uzbekistan cable television”, “Poytakht” and “Vodiy Sadosi” radio stations, and many other came out with a civil initiative on the creation of a unique “Press-Club: Elections.uz-2016” media platform. Its result was the positive comments made both by national and foreign experts. It is not incidental that the International Hotel Tashkent, one of the best hotels in the city, was selected as the site to hosting the organized press-club, since here settled many foreign journalists, who had arrived in Tashkent for covering the elections.

“Press-Club: Elections.uz-2016” is an indicator of the growing role of non-government mass media in covering the elections,” thinks Director of the National center on Human Rights of the Republic of Uzbekistan Akmal Saidov. “It is an indicator of political maturity of the country, implementation of the best practices in building up a democratic state. Its opening demonstrates an excellent level of the non-government mass media’s preparedness in all aspects for covering the elections.”

“We are open absolutely for all foreign and national mass media irrespective of their forms of ownership. Thus, many journalists, while staying at the press-club, found themselves literally right in the center of election process events in Uzbekistan,” noted the head of the press-club, Chairman of the NAEMM Board, Honored Journalist of Uzbekistan Firdavs Abdukhalikov. “I wish to express special gratitude to the Ministry for development of information technologies and communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the project’s technical support, as well as the International Hotel Tashkent for providing comfortable conditions for the “Press-Club: Elections.uz-2016” successful work.”

So what is the uniqueness of this initiative advanced by the non-government mass media of Uzbekistan? In the first place, they did not refuse the information services provided by the press center under the Central Election Commission (CEC). To ensure that the national and foreign journalists, as well as international observers did not miss all major events taking place at the press center under the CEC, the press-club established an on-line communication with it via teleconference, and also set up a content transfer for 10 regional non-government regional TV studios. More than 80 computers with high speed Internet were installed at the press-club for the journalists’ convenience; and a Wi-Fi link was switched on for a more convenient use of all types of gadgets, which was a matter of principle for prompt dissemination of information with the application of modern formats. All this was sufficient to secure that colleagues representing foreign TV channels broadcast their information live in real time mode. And most importantly – the press-club had worked out an informative program of events, which included briefings and a substantial cultural program, which enabled the participants get answers to the most acute questions arising in the course of covering the elections. And last but not the least, the press-club, which was overcrowded at all times, facilitated the exchange of experience and the reporters’ professional growth.

WHAT TO TELL ABOUT UZBEKISTAN?

Uzbekistan has always approached with special responsibility to the coverage of political events, including elections. This approach was maintained also in the organization of the “Press-Club: Eelectons.uz-2016” activities. It is key to know much about the country itself, its past and present to be able to objectively and accurately cover such complicated processes as presidential elections in the country and provide correct evaluation of the emerging processes.

The press-club participants received first hand answers to all their questions from heads of different level organizations, political scientists, and experienced journalists. About 10 briefings were held to this end in the course of five days devoted to the problems of elections’ democratic nature and their transparency, political modernization of the country, innovative processes in the electoral system and many others. Representatives of the Uzbek parliament, civil society institutions, media sphere and international experts helped journalists to understand the most complicated issues within the framework of those meetings.

At the same time the journalists made use of their chance and, as the saying goes, tried to gain double benefit from each session. First and foremost, they raised the level of their political awareness and filled in their notebooks and voice recorders with information required for preparation of serious analytical materials. Discussions and opinion exchange would not end up even upon completion of sessions. There had always been some reporters who would stay behind after sessions in an attempt to get an exclusive interview somewhere on the sidelines.

“I have been working in Uzbekistan since 2005 and monitored previous elections in the country,” noted Osman Gukmen, head of TRT (Turkey) TV Channel representative office in Tashkent. “The opening of the “Press-Club: Elections.uz-2016” for covering the elections has eased the foreign journalists’ work. There is an opportunity here to simultaneously watch several TV channels, and this place has turned into an important media platform.”

In a word, life in the press-club was in full swing, the atmosphere reigning here attracted more and more journalists, observers and guests. Media people prepared their materials almost in an on-line mode and, within literally several minutes, bright and interesting materials were available in Internet sites and broadcast over the radio and television. And some kept reporting live...

One of the topics of discussion at the session was “Democratic nature and transparency of elections: implementation of the norms of international law in the national legislation and international cooperation” and it raised the question of absence of debates in our country. It turned out that not only some of our compatriots supported this opinion, but also the guests of our country, foreign journalists, in particular. All the speakers of the session, including representatives of political parties, arrived at the opinion, that the debates were conducted solely in a format, quite peculiar for our republic.

“Debates are a wonderful opportunity to express one’s opinion. In the Western understanding debates mean arguments and insults, while in the East they assume a diplomatic dialogue with the constituency, within the framework of which the candidates provide the electorate information about their programs in the spirit of mutual respect. Hence, there is no reason to state that we do not have debates as such; they are simply not expressed in the form of squabbles. The debates are conducted not for the sake of debates after all, but with the objective of shaping the public opinion and win the trust of the people,” concluded the discussion specialist of the Institute of Monitoring the Current Legislation under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Karinae Javakova.

The statement on the introduction of ICT into electoral process made by Minister of Justice of Uzbekistan Muzraf Ikramov also spread through the media. He said that an active work was currently being carried out on the implementation of ICT into the electoral process, “the electronic register of voters will be created by 2018,” he stated.

Summing up the above statements and published materials based on the speeches made by the speakers the answer to the main question: why the world is watching closely the elections in Uzbekistan, becomes evident. Today, Uzbekistan is a country with a rich many centuries’ old history, which has played and keeps playing an important role in securing the geopolitical and economic stability in the region, and is one of the major cultural centers of the world civilization. All this arouses great interest of the international community.

There are many things, which are better to be seen once, as the proverb has it. Probably, the entire beauty of traditions and customs, which make up an impressive part of the country’s image, can be related to them. The organizers of the ‘Press-Club; Election.uz-2016’ had also taken care about it: five cultural programs were organized for a wider acquaintance of foreign journalists as well as international observers, who had arrived in the country, with its culture and traditions. One of them was a reception given on behalf of NAEMM at which the tables were laid not by the chefs of fashionable restaurants but by journalists working at regional non-government TV stations. They presented dishes, which represented most vividly the gastronomic preferences of their regions’ residents, and every guest could taste and assess all the subtleties of the Uzbek national cuisine. Journalists from regional non-government TV studios were able to demonstrate not only their culinary, but also their high professional abilities within the framework of the National social advertizing contest held here with the participation of creative groups from all the regions of the country. International experts selected the best ones in different nominations. One of them, Fyodor Plotnikov, head of the All-Russia State TV and Radio Broadcasting Company’s Central Asian bureau, noted that “the social advertizing is a complicated genre, while a political one is twice as complex and is more responsible. I assessed commercial videos, which invite to Uzbekistan and provide an opportunity for a person in the course of a relatively short period of screen time to see, get interested, fall in love and take a decision that one has to come to visit this country. I am not for the first time here. Having watched these commercials I could see for myself what was it that the youth is trying to build here on the foundation of the Uzbek classical television. And what they do is right. The guys are full of creative ideas and ability to use modern technology.”

Presentation of a number of colorfully illustrated albums, which provide detailed information on the historical heritage of the Uzbek people and modern Uzbekistan, was held at the press-club. For example, the Republican International cultural center presented the book “Uzbekistan is our common home” in the form of a concert. The book provides the latest information about 150 ethnic cultural centers of the country that play an important role in the preservation of traditions and customs of representatives of different ethnic and sub-ethnic groups living in the Republic.

Yet another presentation was devoted to the book “Guardians of Centuries Old Traditions (People’s craftsmen of independent Uzbekistan)” prepared and published by the “Uzbekistan Today” Information Agency. It had aroused special interest among foreign guests, which was not surprising. This glossy publication on which the team of authors had worked for about four years is full of the masters’ photographs, as well as items of traditional types of craftsmanship, the secrets of production of which have been kept for centuries and handed down from one generation to another. They literally allow to plunge oneself into the atmosphere of creative craftsmen’s workshops, and to have a close look at those pieces of art.

A concert program prepared by the creative troupes of the “Baynalminal” Republican Interethnic Cultural Center, a fair-exhibition of artisan products and performance of folkloric groups perfectly complemented the presentations.

NEW FORMATS

Creative process remained the main point over the entire five day period of the press-club activity. In general, several thousand articles, info news, interviews and analytical materials were prepared by representatives of different countries’ mass media. Along with the output of traditional information mass media – printed, internet sites, radio and television - the press-club became a factory for production of exclusive output for social networks.

Selfies of journalists, who had taken an active part in the activities on setting up and organization of the press-club, were its first information releases. These materials enabled the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networks to assess the technical excellence of conditions created for journalists two days before the official opening ceremony. Photo, video and short information reports from the press-club were continuously lodged in social networks during the subsequent days. They reflect Uzbekistani journalists socializing events with their numerous foreign colleagues, who worked here and participated in cultural undertakings. The apogee of the press-club operation were photos and videos lodged in the social networks with images of the moment of announcing the results of elections and the victory of the candidate from the Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev in the course of online relay from the CEC.

National and foreign TV channels simultaneously broadcasted their live reports from the “Press-Club: Elections.uz-2016”. The UzReport-TV channel relayed direct live information materials and reports on a daily basis. Correspondent of the “Russia-24” TV channel Robert Frantsev reported about the pre-election situation and elections in Uzbekistan to viewers in Russia from the first day of the press-club operation.

The activity of the “Press-Club: Elections.uz–2016” turned into a bright manifestation of the national mass media’s readiness to work with the use of the most advanced modern technologies and enabled foreign journalists to get acquainted with the social media output produced by their Uzbek colleagues aimed at raising the political activity and literacy of the population.  
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