28 Jan 2014

How Russia Is Censoring Reporting On Sochi Olympics Controversies

Russian state-controlled media outlets, which include the nation's largest television networks and news agencies, are unlikely to air reports questioning the country’s costly preparations for the games, the concerns of LGBT athletes, or the environmental impact of drastically changing the landscape in Sochi -- essentially, anything that doesn't help project the image Putin wants for the Olympics.


In CPJ’s report, an unnamed Sochi correspondent for a Russian news organization recalled filing three stories to editors in Moscow. The first cast doubt on authorities’ claims about a journalist arrested for narcotics possession, while two others looked at dysfunction at a newly built Sochi residential complex for the games and a major storm expected to hit Sochi. All three were rejected in Moscow.

“You may have a storm, a twister, and even a 9-Richter-scale earthquake; still, we have to write that all skies are clear over Sochi,” the correspondent recalled her editor saying. Censorship in authoritarian countries can be overt, as when negative stories are spiked, or more subtle, creating a climate where journalists self-censor out of fear of risking their livelihoods.

“Nobody calls me; nobody says to me what I should or should not write about,” Svetlana Sagradova, the editor-in-chief of a local business magazine, told CPJ. “But I know what the topics that would anger the authorities are, and I have imposed self-censorship when it comes to those. Because -- one move by the prosecutors -- and my publication could lose its license.”

Since many Sochi-based news outlets receive funding from the government, it’s expected that Olympics stories that upset the Kremlin could lead to funds getting cut off.

The World Post