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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Project Syndicate and its 149 friends in the world

Greg IVANOV: We are pleased to cooperate with Den, the leader of Ukrainian quality publications
7 July, 2009 - 00:00
Photo by Kostiantyn HRYSHYN, The Day

Den/The Day readers have always noticed and appreciated Project Syndicate publications — exclusive materials written by well-known political leaders and public figures, world-acclaimed scholars, etc. Owing to Project Syndicate, Den/The Day readers can get first-hand information on global problems and trends. We have been cooperating since 1998, and Den/The Day journalists have more than once visited the Prague-based headquarters. Last week our newspaper’s editorial office was visited for the first time by Greg IVANOV, Project Syndicate Global Relations Manager. He talked with the editor in chief Larysa Ivshyna.

They noted that even during an economic crisis one should not confine oneself to currently popular narrow economic subjects — we should offer readers thought-provoking materials authored by not only world-famous politicians and philosophers but also people who have achieved success in life. Ivanov was delighted to learn that Den/The Day publishes its own library and said that the presented newspaper’s album and The Day Library books will be read with interest at the Project Syndicate headquarters.

The idea of establishing Project Syndicate belonged to the three current managers — two of them are Columbia University professors and one heads a department at the University of New York. All three were associated with universities in Central Europe. They wrote reports for the Review of Privatization in Central and Eastern Europe. The foundations of the well-known philanthropist George Soros were also represented in those countries. These professors and Soros took a closer look at local newspapers and hit upon an excellent idea: to provide real assistance to these countries with Western expert opinion, making full use of their academic connections. At the time, in the mid-1990s, the countries of Central Europe were in a transitional period. The idea was simple and somewhat childish, Ivanov says. The initiators had no concrete business plan, nor do they actually have one now.

What goals is Project Syndicate pursuing in the current conditions of a financial and economic crisis? How can this organization promote independence of the print media in the developing countries and improve the skills of their journalists and editors? How important for Project Syndicate is cooperation with Ukraine? This is the subject of an interview with Greg IVANOV, Project Syndicate Global Relations Manager.

“Project Syndicate is a non-profit organization aimed at a worldwide dialogue on all most important issues. We are now working on the idea of the sound reproduction of articles and using podcasts. We are going to have a new website shortly. We are trying to make subtler use of our materials and capacities, for we have enormous potential, with the materials and a large number of excellent thinkers that we can make use of. This is why we are holding a conference on climate change in Copenhagen in the first half of the coming October. This event will attract our editors and very good academics, thinkers, and politicians. Den/The Day has also been invited to this conference. This will be really interesting.”

Can this be regarded as a step towards the shaping of public opinion on how humankind should develop further and tackle the problem of climatic change?

“In general, yes, if you mean the concrete solution of the problem at the next level of its development. I think Ms. Ivshyna will like it. It is, in fact, what we actually planned. There is a concrete problem, but we are not going to be fixated on it only. Let us take a broader approach. Although there is a concrete agenda and energy is the topic to be discussed, all the superb thinkers and excellent brains, perhaps by sheer definition, will come to more important conclusions and answer more important questions.”

Mr. Ivanov, how can Project Syndicate really achieve one of its goals: increasing independence of the print media in the developing countries or countries in transition?

“Firstly, we maintain very close contacts with the International Press Institute (IPI) which aims to ensure freedom of the press all over the world. A conference in Helsinki discussed the other day the question of protecting the press and the other mass media as well as how to ensure freedom of the press and protect it from political or any other influence.”

And what role is Project Syndicate playing in this?

“How do we help? We supply materials to the developing countries practically free of charge, for we are very well aware that they are not in a position to pay for this. It is very important for us to open this dialogue. We thus think we are helping newspapers in the developing countries by giving them a chance to publish our choice selection of authors.”

And what category does Ukraine belong to? The developing countries?

“I would say we do not at all consider Ukraine a developing country. Ukraine is a developed country, as far as Central and Eastern Europe is concerned. There is no doubt about this. In terms of mass media diversity, Ukraine has a lot of quality publications. Naturally, we consider Den/The Day a leader [among them]. It is just a superb periodical.

“This block — the countries of Central Europe, Ukraine, and Russia, which I am in charger of — is very important for us. The other block is the countries of Central Asia — they are the developing ones. Everything is different there. I have phoned to Armenia — everything is really bad over there. We tried to invite some editors to the conference, but one is in prison, another is wanted by the police, etc.”

And what can you say about the demand for your products in Ukraine and Russia?

“I would say both markets are still underdeveloped for us. There were no Russian-speaking managers before me, which was a major problem. Now we employ managers who know the language of the region they deal with. For example, my colleague Steven Gross has a good command of Chinese. He is now dealing with that country, and there is noticeable progress there. Coming back to the question, I must say that neither Ukraine nor Russia have now reached a desirable level. We will continue to cooperate with Den/The Day. What really matters for us is the quality of a periodical, and we will see if there are further possibilities for the development of cooperation with the Ukrainian print media.”

What do you mean by desirable level of cooperation?

“We would like to have more newspapers as members of the Project Syndicate association in both Ukraine and Russia.”

If it is no secret, can you say how many partners Project Syndicate has in Ukraine and Russia?

“In Ukraine, Den/The Day is the only member. And we are very glad about this. It is not only our only partner in Ukraine. It is, in fact, one of the most important ones because we have been cooperating since 1998.”

And how many partners do you have in Russia?

“Among our partners in Russia are Vedomosti and The Moscow Times.”

Speaking of the positive influence of Project Syndicate on the print media, how does the association manage to raise the journalistic and editorial standards of printed periodicals?

“I think we achieve this by furnishing various fresh and interesting materials. Why are Project Syndicate’s products in demand? Because we prompt you to make more meaningful and interesting decisions. We supply you with materials by Joschka Fischer, Shlomo Ben-Ami, Jeffrey D. Sachs, and many others. This develops your capabilities. But for this choice, the situation would be different. I think it is fine. If I were an editor, I would be glad to always have this kind of choice.

“I would like to stress again that Project Syndicate is a unique non-profit organization that promotes the awareness of various very important global issues. And Den/The Day is one of our principal members. We believe it is very important to give people really thought-provoking, analytical, and highly diverse materials. We are going to continue doing so.”

We too.

“Very good.”

The Day`s fact file

Project Syndicate, an international association of quality publications, comprises nearly 500 daily printed periodicals in 150 countries with the total circulation of about 56 million copies. Project Syndicate releases 41 series of publications and one weekly series of comments on various topics every month, from economics and international relations to science and philosophy. This organization thus helps readers throughout the world to understand the problems and possibilities that shape their lives.

By Mykola SIRUK, The Day