Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
The mainstream media in Tajikistan is struggling to stay relevant in the online age, according to an expert discussion convened by IWPR this week.
Nuriddin Karshiboev, the chairman of the National Independent Media Association said that only state-run outlets had the resources to survive.
Characterising the current state of independent media as “catastrophic,” he said that they were forced to “act as poor beggars… [as]…only a few donors wish to work with media and support them”.
Karshiboev also criticised local standards of journalism, noting that even basic skills such as fact-checking were often viewed as a novel phenomenon.
A recent IWPR study found that that Tajik journalists commonly use social media as a source of information, a trend Khurshed Atovullo, the head of the Centre for Journalistic Investigations, attributed to the difficulty of accessing data in Tajikistan, particularly from state bodies.
Numerous international organisations have criticised the freedom of the press in Tajikistan, and the problem is exacerbated by the lack of resources available to independent media outlets.
Journalist and analyst Nurali Davlatov stressed that the print media was in particularly bad shape and chronically understaffed, describing some operations as run by just one person.
“This man is editor, correspondent, and anything else he can be,” he said.
His colleague Khilvatshohi Mahmud predicted that within two years there would be no more independent print media left in Tajikistan.
“Even now, the circulation of most Tajik newspapers is not more than 1,500. Journalism loses its role in society,” he said.
Media consultant Nabi Yusupov agreed that the mainstream media had suffered in recent years, noting that it had “lost its position due to popularisation of the internet in the country”. With rare exceptions, he continued, established media outlets had failed to monetise their website to the extent that they could become self-sufficient.
Yokub Khalimov, a student at the CABAR.asia Media School, said that poor resources also extended to lack or quality of training
“Most donors teach journalists new methods, but they forget about the basics of journalism. This significantly reduces the level of professionalism among the journalists,” he concluded.
Guldastasho Alibakhshov, another CABAR.asia School of Analytical Journalism participant, said that public “demand” meant that unverified information shaped the “supply” of the fake news in social media.
Participants agreed that education was key and called for new programmes to be developed for students of journalism.