Tough Environment Forces Press Club Belarus to Operate from Poland

Alexandra Kirby

it opened in 2011, Press Club Belarus has operated in neighboring
Poland, under the wing of Press Club Polska. Poland’s capital,
Warsaw, is home to a sizeable community of Belarusian journalists who
work primarily for Belsat, an independent satellite TV station, or
European Radio for Belarus. Due to freedom of speech issues, neither
media can be based in Belarus.

Club Belarus meetings

in Warsaw have served to integrate Belarusian journalists with Polish
journalists and foreign correspondents, and to keep policymakers and
experts up-to-date on current trends in Belarus.

the journalists in Warsaw represent only a part of the Belarusian
media community.

Belarus, there are around 30 independent media outlets attempting to
survive in
tough environment
Forced to pay higher prices for printing and distribution than state
media, often denied access to the state distribution service, and
with a de-facto ban on advertisements, independent media is dependent
on foreign grants, and only able to reach one-tenth of the

is rife. If the Ministry of Information issues two warnings within
one year to one organization, it will be forced to close pending a
trial. The Internet is the only area where independent media is
developing faster than state media.

no journalists are in prison for political reasons, these “lighter,”
more subtle repressions nevertheless take their toll, both on
individuals and on the general health of the independent media.

more dangerous than economic and legal repressions is inertia. Many
journalists are so focused on their own survival (and have been for
the last twenty years) that they do not think about professional
development. This could be helped by something as simple as regular
small, informal discussions with colleagues. In addition, it is hard
for some to see the world outside, to understand how Belarus fits
into various global trends, and to benefit from being an active
member of the international media community.

these reasons, despite potential obstacles, Press Club Belarus has
decided to hold meetings in Minsk. The first, in June, offered an
international perspective, sparking
debate on
Belarus is always overwhelmingly associated with the dictatorship in
the international media
and what can be done to improve the overall quality of reporting on
Belarus in world media.
guests were a Spanish laureate and a Polish jury member from the
third edition of Press Club Belarus’ international journalist
competition – ‘
in Focus 2013

series of Press Club Belarus meetings in Minsk are now planned from
October – to share best media practices with guests from other
countries, as well as inside Belarus.

invite anyone who would like to share their experience with
Belarusian colleagues to get in touch. Contact: Alexandra Kirby