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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Journalists Ready for New World Order

On Monday, Sept. 10, the daily Vremya Novostei came out with the following headline: "The valley which the Taliban will never reach." The report was from Ahmad Shah Massood's hideout. The same day it emerged that suicide terrorists had assassinated Massood in his Panjsher stronghold.

The author, Arkady Dubnov, had prepared his report honestly and professionally. His only error was assuming that convention and tradition would be observed. (As Dubnov said the next day, those who visited General Massood were not searched, "For fear of insulting the guests.")

Massood's assassination quite literally shattered centuries-old, Afghan traditions of hospitality. The attack on America shattered the way Americans and the entire world see themselves. At such moments it is hard for the public to exercise restraint and resist the temptation to embark on a witch hunt at home and to demand the immediate punishment of enemies abroad. Too often the media tend to see themselves as vox populi and therefore as superior to the law courts. It is very important particularly at moments when nothing is clear and emotions have reached boiling point to recall how vulnerable and imperfect our profession is and to stick to the principle of not making things worse.

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From the moment that Soviet miners went on strike in the summer of 1989, the prevalent approach of the domestic press has been to stir things up.

Last week it seems to me, a completely different set of mechanisms kicked in. I personally watched or discussed with trustworthy experts virtually all news and analysis programs broadcast by the leading television stations. Furthermore, I read a broad selection of newspapers, ranging from the tabloidy Komsomolskaya Pravda and Moskovsky Komsomolets to the respectable Izvestiya and Kommersant, and up to the high-brow Nezavisimaya Gazeta and Vremya Novostei. And my conclusion? I concluded that the media were trying to stabilize the situation.

What could the immediate, negative side-effects of the American tragedy be for Russia? Increased Caucasus- or Islamophobia. Yes, the word on the street would indicate that such sentiment has increased, but I do not believe that the press is to blame here. The subject of the guilty has been treated with considerable tact.

There could have been a surge in the number of citizens panicking about their safety. And indeed, the subject of our vulnerability to terrorism did not escape the attention of our media -- however, coverage lacked the usual hysterics, global generalizations and apocalyptic predictions. I noticed only one isolated case of irresponsibility; when MK ran the headline: "In two weeks' time they will poison the water, according to our security services." The article considers where Americans should potentially expect the next strike.

Then there was the panic over the dollar. It flared up but was at once extinguished by -- among others -- convincing articles appearing in papers across the political spectrum, which argued that the dollar was under no threat. The only piece of provocation was a front-page article in Saturday's Kommersant titled: "The dollar didn't hold," and ending with the words: "In the space of a few days the dollar turned from being the most stable currency in the world to one of the most unpredictable and, therefore, most risky."

And so I am proud to conclude that in this tragic week Russian journalists and editors didn't just announce that we are now living in a different world. They also proved themselves worthy of it.

Alexei Pankin is the editor of Sreda, a magazine for media professionals (www.internews.ru/sreda)