Friday, May 14, 2010

Монгол дахь хэвлэл мэдээллийн байдал

Нэлээд хэдэн жилийн өмнө бичиж байсан материалаа тавьж байна. Судлаачдад хэрэг болуужин гэж үзлээ.

Media Situation in Mongolia


Media in Mongolia have become more freer and independent since 1990. Before that time, all media were belonged to the Government. Now the State does not run any newspapers. In addition there are no closed subjects to cover for journalists. In contrast to Central Asian Journalists, who are supposing to put their presidents’ photographs on the front pages of newspapers, Mongolian journalists can criticize its president every day.

The number of media outlets has increased like mushrooms after the rain since 1990. According to the survey from the Monitoring Department of the Press Institute, there are currently 144 newspapers, 36 magazines, 27 radio and 24 television stations and 9 cable television stations in Mongolia. The most newspapers first duplicated the content and lay out from Russian newspapers. It seems quantitatively two millions of Mongolians have enough media institutions to get information. But in reality it is not. The quality of information the media provide is not good because of several reasons: bias, triviality, obscenity, libels and distortion. Why so many ethical problems in Mongolian media? There is no single reason for that. Many factors such as legal environment, ownership and educational background of journalists influence routine work in every media outlet.

Legal environment

Mongolian media still lack favorable legal environment. Under a right in the Constitution of 1992, every Mongolian citizen can seek and find information he/she needs. But in reality, Mongolian people including journalists can not get necessary information even basic facts from authorities. However, sometimes state officials call press conferences or briefings when they want to use media for their publicity. They are always reluctant to answer straight questions by journalists. In other words, it is difficult to get necessary facts for journalists in order to provide with information to the public. Because journalists do not have full facts they need they write their opinions and assumptions instead of straight facts. Often time, journalists were sued for libels. That is why the survey conducted by teachers of the Press Institute in 1998 concluded that there is a need of a special law suit declaring that state officials should provide certain kinds of information to citizens. Such law could remind the Freedom of Information Act and Sunshine Law in the U.S.A.

Another sharp point regarding to legal environment of Mongolian Media is registration of each media outlet in the Ministry of Justice. Since the Ministry has a duty to register all media institutions, it has a right to shut down running media outlets. It was done this way two times in 1996 and 2000. Registration of media by the Government is considered to be censorship in a democratic country.


Although the first independent newspaper and private television station were established in the early 1990s, it is fair to say that there is still no free press in Mongolia because of their content. Reading newspapers, listening to radio and watching television, the audience can simply judge which media outlet leans to which political party or business group. Editors-in-chief of five daily newspapers are members of different political parties. One of those five newspapers is belonged to the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party which represents now the majority in the Parliament and which was the a ruling party’s organ during the communist period. Actually, this newspaper is becoming more likely a state newspaper. The content of this newspaper reminds people an old time when all media were mouthpieces of a ruling party.

But the Freedom of Information Law adopted in August of 1998 has declared that the State should not have any media outlets. To implement this law, the Government decided to privatize state newspapers including two daily (Ardyn erkh/People’s right and Zasgiin medee/Government news) and 21 local newspapers. Regarding to radio and television, the Government decided to restructure them as public broadcasting system.

During the privatization process, two main political parties transferred two daily newspapers into hands of their members. Some local governments got their newspapers back just renaming them. Bright side of this law is that many private newspapers and radio stations have launched in every corner of the country. However, national radio and television station remains with the same status getting support from the Government. The reason is that the Parliament before and after the election of 2000 was reluctant to discuss regulations of the public broadcasting system. Media watchers say that the Government wants to keep national radio and television in its hand because it needs power to manipulate the public.

The Mongolian radio is the most powerful medium in Mongolia because it is available in every home. The Mongol TV is only television that broadcasts twenty-four hours. Other three TV stations have very limited time for broadcasting. Twenty minutes of thirty-minute news program on the Mongol TV is dedicated to government reporting. It was the same four five years ago when Nancy Graham Holm, a teacher from the Danish School of Journalism, said, “according to the Mongol TV nobody except the Government works in your country.”

Another paradox in ownership is that one person becomes an owner and editor-in-chief of one outlet at the same time. Sometimes they ask journalists not only to write a story but also to work at circulation desk or create ads, which certainly pushes journalists to make unethical decisions. The owner/editor-in-chief usually affiliates with business groups. That is why journalists sometimes can not criticize some companies. In opposite, some companies get excessive critics by the media because they are competitors of their companies.

Journalism education

Not only journalists but also other people felt needs in retraining after 1990. Many organizations paid attention to train journalists inviting foreign journalists. Even the Press Institute, a mid-career training center was established with the assistance from Denmark in 1995. The most working journalists were involved in training courses. Some journalists took part in training courses several times. But there is still a bias in the media. The audience hesitates in trustworthiness of the news.

It was difficult to change minds of people trained in old time. That is why, the Press Institute started to organize a six-month diploma course in 1997. About one hundred young journalists have completed this course since that time. But they had a problem with their editors in defining news angle and structuring news story. The graduates of the diploma course emphasize a need to train their managers. But managers easily escape training courses saying they are too busy. Even they escape seminars and discussions on ethical issues. In the training courses on ethics no single editor was involved but journalists.

The graduates from different journalism schools in Mongolia have different understanding about media ethics. Some of twenty journalism schools do not teach ethics for future journalists. There is a need all teachers to be involved in discussions of philosophical foundations of ethics and their practices in journalism. Teachers say that they have no textbooks in Mongolian language to give for readings to students.

In addition, presence of two journalists’ organizations makes confusions to work out ethical principles for journalists. Both organizations have own ethical regulations. But not every body is a member of those organizations. Some media institutions have own rules or principles to work in their newsrooms.


In the previous paragraphs, several factors have been described on which bad journalism depends on in Mongolia. The main factor is the ownership.

Several journalists mostly editors-in-chief of daily newspapers were candidates in the election of 2000. But unlike Martin Bell in Britain, they were not elected to the Parliament because their newspaper was so bias and unethical. They can not be bias because they clearly support political parties. They can not be bias because they become rich and they need to protect own property. The journalists and the medium are only tools to express their opinions.

Their mediums are unethical because there is no separation of news and opinion pages. Their mediums are unethical because there is no separation of editorial and business side. They intentionally do not want to be educated themselves because by now they feel power in their hands to manipulate people not to serve them. But they always like to say, “We give what people want” even though they did not do any audience research.

The following conclusions have followed:

1. Mongolia people need special legal provisions to access information like in America. Otherwise, the authorities would not learn how to provide with information the public.

2. Since it is difficult to have a general code of ethics for all journalists, each media outlet can work out own.

3. There is a need of highly developed training institutions in Mongolia besides existing ones.