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Roman Skrypin  Channel 5 remains true to its motto

 

Channel 5, the only Ukrainian TV station that remained true to its motto, Honest news, before, during and after last years Orange Revolution, has been awarded a prize, For Journalism and Democracy, by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

 

Roman Skrypin, Channel 5s chief editor and newscaster, went to Washington, D.C., USA, where at a ceremony, held within the framework of the 14th annual Parliamentary Assembly session, he received the prize. Upon his return to Kyiv, at Channel 5s general meeting, a noble decision was taken to use the prize money for establishing a fund which would award prizes to budding journalists who have been working in journalism less than twelve months, and to university students majoring in journalism.

Mr Skrypin was interviewed by Maksym PROTSKIV, WU senior editor.

 

Mr Skrypin, first of all, let me on behalf of our magazine and of myself congratulate you on being awarded the prize For Journalism and Democracy. Was it your first visit to the USA?

No, the fifth. And I can tell you that, with the exception of Washington and San Francisco, I did not like anything I saw in America.

How would you describe the atmosphere of the ceremony?

It was very interesting to observe the manner in which the world views and mentality of the people taking part, manifested itself. Among the participants were parliamentarians for the countries of well-established democracies and of the countries of the former Soviet Union. The former showed a genuine interest in everything we said, and the latter seemed to have come to the Assembly meeting just to be present there, with no particular interest in what was happening. They did not take part in discussions, kept yawning without even trying to conceal their yawns. By contrast, the Ukrainian participants, in spite of the fact that Ukraine is also a post-Soviet state, behaved differently, taking an active part in all that was happening. Ukrainian representatives delivered their reports, asked and answered questions. We could clearly see for whom it mattered what was happening in the world, for whom it was part of their life and work, and for whom it did not matter much. The people of this later category seemed to be quite indifferent to the fact that it was a Ukrainian TV station that was being awarded.

Are there any new ideas that are going to be introduced at Channel 5?

We are basically an all-news station. In addition to news shows, which are telecast every hour, we show documentaries, interviews, analytical programmes, and discussions of controversial issues. We are doing our best to develop and introduce new ideas, but there is a lack of highly professional journalists in this country and it makes things more difficult for us. Incidentally, this lack of professionals in many spheres is a serious problem in Ukraine

I am a host of a news and analytical show Chas (Time) and I am not quite satisfied with the format, which should be expanded. We want to use more of background information and more facts. Id like to make Channel 5 as presentable as glossy, high-quality magazines but the problem is that we, in contrast to magazines, are on the air every day. We are working hard to improve the content of our broadcasts and programmes, we are creating and launching new projects, we are improving the systematic approach to making shows. I am for more non-standard programmes created by TV journalists specializing in certain fields. Of a great importance are business news shows telecast during the daytime and at prime time. This TV niche in Ukraine is not occupied yet. Mostly, economic news shows are made up of commercial bits with little analysis.

What is more important for you as a host  to promote the viewers interest or to present the subject under discussion as fully as possible?

These two things go hand in hand. My show Chas lasts for two hours every day, and I can tell you that any Ukrainian TV station would find it difficult to maintain such a format. But our show does manage to present the subjects under discussion fully enough and in this manner we engage the viewers attention. It does not mean, though, that it helps raise our ratings  a TV serial shown at some other channels will capture bigger audiences but I reckon that about ten percent of the Ukrainian TV viewers do watch our news shows. We target these ten percent. Channel 5 can hardly compete in ratings with purely entertainment stations but in the news-only format we have no rivals.

Mr Skrypin, you have a reputation of TV journalist who asks hard questions regardless of who interlocutor may be. Does your attitude vary depending on whether you like or dislike the guest of your studio?

All I do is ask questions but the way one asks questions may differ. Answers depend a lot on the manner in which questions are asked. These days it is not regarded a proper thing to do to show your attitude to your guest... Well, it happens sometimes that at first you like the person you are talking to on the air, but then you discover that how should I put it that he is careless about his personal hygiene, if you know what I mean. Then I feel I want to wrap the conversation up as soon as I can. I can reveal that things like this happened when I invited members of the communist faction in parliament to take part in our show But I do not establish any relations with politicians. Either before or after the show I do not socialize with politicians. Besides, I do not like to discuss things with my guest before the show.

Next year Ukraine will see parliamentary elections  are you planning to work in the same mode you did during the presidential elections in 2004?

I hope that the parliamentary elections will not make us work as much as we did during the Orange Revolution but I can assure you that well do our absolute best to provide our viewers with timely and full information on what will be happening.

 

The Prize For Journalism and Democracy was established by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1996 with the aim of awarding individual journalists and media organisations which promote human rights and democratic principles. Every year, following a decision of the Assembly Bureau, which is based on the recommendations of the Prize Committee, one or several prize winners receive 20,000 US dollars. This money comes in donations from media companies in the member-countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

 

Recipients of the prize:

Adam Mikhnik, Poland. 1996;

Reporters without Borders. 1997;

Timothy Garton Ash, the United Kingdom. 1998;

Cristiana Amanpour, the USA. 1999;

Andrey Babitsky, Russia. 2000;

Heorhiy Gongadze (Ukraine) and Jose Lui Lope Lavcal (Spain) (posthumously). 2001;

Friedrich Orter (Austria) and Pavlo Sheremet (Russia). 2002;

Hanna Politkovska, (Russia). 2003;

Journalists Defence Committee. 2004.

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