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People Feel the Truth

Elena Glishchinskaya on the value of journalism as a profession
People Feel the Truth

Journalism is an important tool in preserving peace and developing the world, believes Elena Glishchinskaya, radio host and political commentator. In her interview with the Global Women Media news agency, the expert shared her vision of the value and responsibility of her profession. She expressed her opinion on the criteria of the quality of information and the importance of ‘friendliness’ of the published content.

Елена-Глищинская_0T.jpg Elena Glishchinskaya
journalist, political commentator of Radio Sputnik, member of the Union of Journalists of Russia and Ukraine

Elena Glishchinskaya has over 15 years of experience of working as an editor and journalist. She has interned at TV channels in Poland and Germany and worked with television, radio, newspapers, and news agencies in Russia and Ukraine. The expert founded the World Leaders magazine and the Generation X student newspaper. Today, Elena Glishchinskaya is a journalist of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, a political commentator of Radio Sputnik, and the implementer of a number of journalist projects.


– How did you start your journalistic career? Have you always had a dream of being a journalist?

– Interestingly, both in my childhood and in my youth, I never thought that I would become a journalist one day. I had a dream of becoming a scientist in my school years. I wanted to make discoveries, fly into space, explore the world, and create important inventions for humanity. I can say that those were all my plans for life.

I entered a university specializing in the field of ecology and really loved doing science. Later, when I worked at the department and our team already had some achievements, we had to describe all observations, experiments, and success that we had achieved. All of my colleagues were older and more experienced than me. They did not want to be distracted from science by paperwork, that’s why they assigned it to me. It turned out that I not only can describe the processes but also do it pretty well.

At the same time, I was involved in the city’s environmental movement and advocated for the preservation of the purity of the river, which was the source of water in our city. And, of course, to make our position actively expressed, we needed to talk and write about it more. Perhaps, that’s where my professional journey as a journalist began. I was very passionate about that. I understood that journalism had great power.

Scientists, doctors, ecologists, and professionals from many other fields are working hard to make the world a better place. It is important to make sure that there are people able to tell about their work in a proper way.

After graduating from my university, I encountered a challenging period of finding a job. That was the time when the USSR collapsed and many scientific institutions were simply closed. I changed many fields of activity and almost always had to write a lot. I was also involved in social activities with young people and student organisations. My journalistic skills turned out very useful. Thus, we created the first student newspaper in Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The project was very successful and very popular not only in Odessa where I lived but also in other cities.

Professional knowledge was required to make the newspaper funny and colourful. I attended a number of courses and training sessions to master the profession even better. I tried to gain as much experience as possible by working as a press secretary in public organisations and as an editor in the local media. Today, despite my lack of education in that professional area, I am an accomplished journalist. I am still fascinated by that activity.


– What professional project is the most significant for you today?

– The Learned Cat project combines two elements that are important for me: science and journalism. It is a series of audio podcasts on Radio Sputnik that are freely accessible on the net and social media after being broadcasted. I interview scientists and experts from various fields. We discuss current events in the world, try to understand the essence of certain phenomena, and talk about discoveries and achievements.

That is a project that I have long dreamed of but never had the chance to implement. On the one hand, I had no time for that. On the other hand, it seemed to me that the mass audience was not quite ready for such topics.

Today, the popularisation of science is becoming increasingly relevant and scientific topics are becoming more and more interesting to the public. I like that trend towards self-development. The media are actively involved in that.

The Learned Cat project is in the development stage. We have only recently launched our first podcasts. Not we are thinking through how to improve it and make it more interesting for the audience.

The podcast format is gaining popularity in various countries around the world including Russia. If you look at statistics, you can see that the number of listeners of audio programmes and audiobooks has doubled in the last six months alone. People often use headphones while jogging, exercising, doing household chores, or on their way to work. Interestingly, they most often choose educational and enlightening content rather than entertainment. Time in the modern world flows very quickly. People start cherishing every minute and try to spend it usefully.

The market is actively developing today. As a radio presenter and someone who is in love with science, I find that niche especially interesting.


– In addition to your experience in science and journalism, you have another field of expertise: politics. What do you find most interesting in being a political commentator?

– Firstly, radio is the most difficult type of journalism because you have to attract the attention of the audience without using visual tools in it. The host has only a voice as a tool for delivering emotions and information in such a way that the listener can understand and feel everything. However, your question led me to the idea that political journalism, irrespective of the chosen format and medium, is no less complex and interesting.

One must remember the golden rule: so many people, so many minds. It is impossible to please everyone and one doesn’t need to do that. I believe that a journalist should, first of all, be honest and objective.

In political journalism, difficult and acute topics can provoke conflicts if not highlighted correctly. That is why a political journalist, more than anyone else, must approach each word he or she publishes very responsibly and cautiously. He or she must be guided by different viewpoints and be able to show the same problem from different perspectives.

Of course, in political journalism and in any other journalism, any information should be verified particularly carefully. Some experts call today’s reality the age of fakes rather than facts. The information space is filled with fake news so much that it is almost impossible to distinguish fakes from good content. In such an environment, it becomes more difficult for journalists to work and their level of responsibility increases manifold.

At the same time, we know from scientific research that everyone consumes the information he or she needs. If people want quality content, they will deliberately seek and find it.


– Are you talking about bringing up the right culture in society?

– It may be partly a question of culture. However, much more depends on people’s preferences. Recently I interviewed a neuropsychologist and she told me about the fact confirmed by science: no matter how intellectual, educated, and clever a person is, he or she may subconsciously skip, ignore, or not hear the information that does not correspond to his or her inner convictions and interests.

That is how our nervous system works. It tries to get rid of everything that is unpleasant and unnecessary, that can disappoint or upset us. We cannot influence that. However, as journalists, we can make sure that there is more quality content and different points of view in the general mass of information.


– You founded the World Leaders magazine. Leadership is a rather abstract and multifaceted concept. What does it mean to you personally?

– From my point of view, leaders are defined not by official documents that prove their authority but by their authority for this or that audience. They are people who prove their inner strength through their actions.

For example, I interviewed a Paralympic athlete and silver medalist at the Tokyo Olympics. One can only admire the inner strength of that person! He can be undoubtedly called a world leader. This is a man who can inspire and motivate others with his actions. He can do a lot for the world.

There are certainly leaders among politicians. However, leaders include not only politicians.

World leaders include artists, writers, scientists, doctors, social activists, and many other professionals. Those people can inspire others with their ideas and passion for their work and can lead all those around.

Of course, the leaders are most often media personalities. I believe that it largely depends on journalists how this or that person will be presented to the audience, what thoughts he or she will be broadcasting. In this respect, journalists have great power: they can help little-known people to become leaders, attract attention to them, and tell the public about them.


– Today, many media publish a lot of negative information in the pursuit of popularity. Do you find it possible to attract the attention of the audience by using positive and ‘friendly’ content?

– I would not be so categorical about the fact that the media build their ratings only on negative information. Any fact has two sides and good journalism will show both of them. Bad journalism will concentrate on one of them. In our lives, we regularly face new challenges and problems. We have two options: either we panic, get depressed, and give up, or we look for solutions.

That can also be applied to journalism. If we talk about tabloids, the statement about scandalous and negative information is probably true. Many such online media outlets and bloggers use that kind of content for achieving higher ratings. Fortunately, that format is gradually becoming obsolete and people increasingly less turn to it. A good journalist acts differently: he or she highlights a problem from different perspectives and draws attention to possible solutions or already taken measures.

People feel the truth. They will not believe a media outlet that publishes only good or only bad news. A balance based on not silencing down problems and ‘healthy’ positivity is needed.

Recently, I had a special meeting with representatives of public organisations. I shared my experience of working with the media. We talked about how public organisations can present information in the right way to interest journalists and the audience, how the newsrooms are organised, and how journalists work.

That was a very important topic for me because I also started my journalism-related career by working as a press secretary at NPOs. At that time, I was always very disappointed that the media rarely covered our activities. Today, there are a huge number of communities in various fields. They are engaged in charity, solve socially important issues, and do a lot of good and useful things. We just need to talk more about them because such examples are very inspiring.


– Today, you are not only a journalist but also a mentor. What is the most valuable thing for you in this transfer of knowledge and experience?

– After having worked quite a lot of time in public organisations and the media, I want to share knowledge from both fields, to connect them. Sometimes journalists are looking for interesting heroes but cannot find them. Many volunteers, social activists, and philanthropists find it ‘not nice to talk loudly about good deeds’. We should get rid of that stereotype by all means. It is important and necessary to talk about good deeds.

Public organisations and volunteers are those who do positive things in a very negative context. There is a problem but there are also people who know how to solve it.

Moreover, I am currently creating a training programme for students of the Faculties of Journalism. I would like to discuss with them how to deal with negative information, how to use social media and the media for the benefit of society. I feel that I already have enough experience and it is my social responsibility to share it. After all, it depends on us today what kind of journalists representatives of future generations will become and what kind of information space they will create.

On the one hand, I want to openly show all the pros and cons of the profession to the students to let them consciously make their choice. On the other hand, it is important for me to convey a valuable message to the rising generation of professionals: a person who has decided to devote his or her life to journalism must be first interesting to him- or herself.

I am deeply convinced that the ability to write and express your ideas clearly is not a sufficient argument for becoming a journalist. It is a basic human ability available to anyone with a school education. It is very important to make sure that a journalist has expert knowledge in other fields in addition to writing skills. That is the only way to become a really valuable specialist able to go deeper into certain issues, ask really important and serious questions during an interview, and direct the conversation on the right path.

If journalists focus their work on the topics of their own interest and passion, they will be able to cover a subject deeply and interestingly.

One mustn’t be shy about writing and talking about what you like. That improves the quality of the work, engages the audience, and opens new doors and opportunities for the professional.

– What is the power of journalism as a tool? Can journalists have an impact on the world today?

– I believe that representatives of all professions can change the world. The only difference lies in the tools available to them. Journalism, indeed, is one of those tools. It is unique thanks to the fact that it can open new opportunities not only for journalists but for other people as well. Scientists influence the world through their discoveries, artists do that through their works, and teachers contribute to the world through their educational processes. All their activities will have an even stronger impact if highlighted through journalistic channels.

Many people want to change the world and there are a number of opportunities for that today. If a person can also tell about that in an interesting way in the media or on a personal blog, the power of change will be multiplied.

In my childhood, I dreamed of becoming a scientist and changing the world for the better. I still have that desire and only my methods have changed. I look for interesting people able to share valuable information and help broadcast their stories and thoughts to others.

I want to distract people from their daily routine and make them start thinking globally for a few minutes. I want to show them what amazing discoveries scientists are making and how wonderful our world is. As children, we all immersed in our dreams and read fantasy stories. After growing up, many of us no longer believe in such ‘scientific miracles’. I want people to learn more about discoveries and keep dreaming. That is very important because we create a better future only when we dream.

Viktoria Gusakova, Global Women Media news agency

Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov

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Global Women Media news agency

© 1996-2021 The Institute for the Humanities and Information Technologies
All rights reserved Global Women Media news agency