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MASS MEDIA AS A CONSTITUENT IN THE FORMATION OF ECOLOGICAL AWARENESS

Author:  Dagbaev E.
Source:  // Water quality and traditions in lake areas: The 6-th Living Lakes Conference Ulan-Ude, Lake Baikal, Russia July 30-th – August 3-rd, 2001. – Ulan-Ude, 2001. – P.47-48.

1.  The investigation of the role of mass media in formation of ecological awareness, under the TASIS project "Assistance to promotion of ecological information and public awareness in the Baikal region", has shown that public demand for ecological information is extremely high. Polling by mass media of 69 organizations of Buryatia, including educational institutions, ecological, tourist and other public organizations, as well as government structures, has resulted in a kind of a hierarchy of information sources related to ecological problems. In the first place are he periodicals, leading with a large margin (43% of the subjects has designated them as the most accessible source), then, in decreasing order: television, personal contacts, organizations and institutions, radio.
As it can be seen, on aggregate, mass media are admittedly the most powerful factor of promotion of ecological information and public awareness, especially with regard to the propaganda of ecological education.
2. Another investigation under the project addressed the general state of eco-journalism. 20 representative mass media organizations of Buryatia were polled. They include state and private, republican and local, pro-government and opposition organizations. The main conclusion is that, despite the multifold increase of the number of mass-media organizations in comparison with the soviet time, the coverage of ecological subjects is pathetic. No specialized ecological periodicals exist, and many ecological columns and departments have ceased to exist.
Thus one can observe a sertious social contradiction: the enormous potential of the mass media in formation of ecological awareness is not utilized due to neglect of ecological subjects by television, radio and periodicals.
3.  What are the roots of the problem? The matter is not in the lack of demand for this kind of information. In the recent 10 years the mass media institutions were exposed to competitive markets, and under these conditions the problems of economic survival has overshadowed all others. Because ecological coverage is not very marketable, as it is required by te society in general rather than by particular indivi-uals, mass media institutions are not interested in such coverage. Interest to ecological coverage exists primarily in state publications.
4.  The return of the mass media institutions to ecological cov-s erage, as the study found out, is possible under the following conditions.
First, young journalists are lacking specific ecological knowledge. As a result they avoid coverage of the ecological issues. Therefore it is highly desirable to develop a permanent system of seminars for training of young journalists.
Second, the mass media institutions themselves have difficulties with the information search. Remoteness of information sources and the lack of required technical means inhibits large-scale information activity in the sphere of ecology. Creation of the information center or service centers would alleviate this problem.
Third, the state governance bodies ought to support specialized ecological periodicals and independent eco-journalists, otherwise ecological information is at risk of being still left out by the editorial boards. Currently the Baikal Information Center "Gran" has started, first in 10 years, publication of the ecological journal "Grani Baikala". This can be considered as a major development in the public life of Buryatia.

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