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Bulgarian Internet users have an extremely poor reading culture

28 October 2015 / 19:10:51  GRReporter
3157 reads

Ivan Petkov

Nikolaos Tsitiridis was born in Athens but grew up in Sofia. He loves his fiancée, friends, children and Bulgaria. He has materialised his dream of becoming a journalist and is currently working in the rapidly growing online media OFFNews.bg. Here is a candid interview on the media, elections, dependencies and journalistic ethics. Only 21 years old, he is a journalist with a promising future, who has been awarded the prize "Young journalist" in the annual ceremony "Valya Krushkina - journalism for people."

What does being a journalist mean to you?

Being a journalist is an extremely important mission that each person could take on a mission that is carried out in front of the public. When you make a wrong move and you make it on purpose, you become like those doctors who take money to prescribe certain medicines, like those police officers who take bribes. Any public position, like being a journalist, doctor, policeman, teacher, is negatively perceived because confidence in these professions has eroded and people believe that they present a perspective that is not theirs. It is constantly stated that journalists lie, isn’t it? A considerable part of society believes that the media present only one viewpoint, namely the paid one.

Journalism is a public profession that is essential to a free society, to a democratic society. When people are free, the media are free too. We see how it is in Bulgaria, the media are not free and society is not free.

How many hours a day do you work and do you manage to deal with the changing and unpredictable rhythm of the profession?

I share the idea that journalism is not a profession but a way of life. Journalism is not a profession in which you sit behind a desk  and which you do automatically, it is not paperwork. Each day begins differently and ends in a totally unexpected way. That is the good thing about this profession - it is so different that it seems you start a new job every day. We are living in fast times, in a new era, it is a profession for people who think fast. For me this is a unique profession!

The important thing in the profession is facts. I present the facts and the reader is free to draw conclusions. To form a free society, everyone should have his or her own opinion, not everyone should accept someone else's opinion.

What do you think of the Balkan media mentality?

In the Balkans, we have a special mentality. As for the media, all are looking for a bargain, as Aleko Konstantinov describes it. There are media that are created just to racketeer not to publish certain materials. There is media racketeering in Bulgaria. There is also political racketeering of the media and we cannot get out of this heinous vicious circle. There are media, newspapers, which are known to be politically dependent and they are still read. By "politically dependent" I mean that their owner is a deputy. For me it is inexplicable why people continue to inform themselves from biased and dependent media after so many things have been written down and spoken out.

Why do people continue to inform themselves from dependent media although they are aware of this fact?

The first thing is that they do not care. People may know much but do nothing about it. Nobody wants to stand up, raise in revolt and do something to change the situation in which he or she is living. The same goes for the elections - people say they are not living well but continue to vote for the same parties.

What is the way out of this passive discontent in which we are living?

An increasing number of young people are making their choice and they have found it - it is terminal two at the airport...

Is it the only possible way out?

When you go outside Bulgaria, you see that things can be different. Again, the example of voting - when the civilized world votes, the results are true, people do not doubt them. While in Bulgaria absolutely every time there are alerts of vote buying and nobody does anything. No prosecutor’s office and no court are doing their jobs effectively. The prosecutor’s office is working on information from the media. The prosecutor’s office is only working if something has happened and has been shown on television. Why is nobody doing their job? But this is the result of the fact that those who can vote according to their conscience are lazy. People have fallen in a state of timelessness en masse, in a state of laziness that borders on apathy, they are thinking only of themselves, but at the trivial routine level.

What is the role of the media to change this apathy? Could they actually assume that role and push for change?

I think they are currently doing so. There are many investigations showing the people who are buying votes. I do not know what more the media could do.  At least several major investigations are underway during each election round. The media cannot go to people’s doors and make them protest or protect their civil rights to vote. The media can show the facts impartially. People do not want to fulfil their civic duty. We are stunted in terms of horror and villainy to the extent of passing by a man who has fallen down in the street, let alone civil consciousness! This brain does not want to think outside the box, we are like chickens in a chalk circle, not daring to go outside it.

Have we come to the point at which the status quo is reproduced?

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