Sputnik has been launched, and it succeeded!
Ljubinka Milinčić is the director of the new news agency in Serbia, Sputnik. This agency named upon the first satellite quickly became one of the most influential and most quoted news sources. We talked about their story – how to be a newcomer who succeeded so quickly.
Sputnik is a relatively new agency, and quickly took a respectable position both in Serbia and in the world. Is it because people are eager to hear the “second opinion” to say it in medical terms?
It would probably be much better for me to say that it is not the case, but it is because we are so good. But in fact I agree with you. Here, the “second opinion” was really missing for a long time. What we do simple was a seed fallen to a fertile ground. People simply wanted this fresh opinion. The prevalence of Western media is obvious everywhere. You buy newspapers or watch TV and you realise that all the news are virtually the same. Recently I read the interviews of Mr Davenport and the US Ambassador and I realised that these interviews were almost the same, although these were two persons, two writers, two magazines! It was time to hear something else.
CNN once expanded its activities to regional branches of the CCN, CNN en español continue. To catch up with the BBC World Service and CNN and their news, appeared first Qatari Al-Jazeera, and then RT, Sputnik, the Chinese agency… In a multipolar world, the role of a multi-polar information?
The reaction for existence of Russia Today and Sputnik, as another branch of the same thing, is significant. Russia Today broke the monopoly of Western Media and the media darkness and now they don’t know what to do with us. In many countries the burning question is how to shut Russia Today up. And these are so-called “democratic countries”, promoting free speech! It is a kind of “pluralism, but it has to be how I said”. It is the great change and there is no more monopoly for justice and truth. I don’t think the world will change all of a sudden, but it obviously changes. Look at the elections in the USA: there is suddenly hatred towards the establishment. Trump could be good or bad, Sanders too. But they are different and show the despise towards the old establishment. Imagine the left winning in America? Unthinkable. Sanders was prevented from winning, his own party tripped him up. Look what the famous American democracy looks like. Lobbies are in the core of it, many people finance both parties just in case. It has been the case in Serbia too.
Sometimes it is not easy to censor unwanted information. Do not allow the broadcasting of TV programmes and stop distrubution of press. Today, Sputnik can come to any reader on the planet and offer a fresh angle. How the Internet revolutionised the work of info-agency?
In the Cold War time, both sides tried so hard to supress the rivalling propaganda, even more effort was made to supress the rivals than to spread your own. Now the Internet is here. You cannot stop it so easily. If they “kill” RT, which is impossible, the fresh information will be heard. Internet revolutionised all. There are many dangers on the Web, terrorism or so, but you can now mobilise 100,000 people over the Web, and this killer from Germany, supposedly called people for a party in the shopping mall, like “free food” for everyone. Internet is powerful. And the democratic countries have not found the way to be democratic. There are immigrants of third generation not included in the society and systemic violence is expected, and it grows from the dissatisfaction. And the West is bragging about their democracy while they should ask themselves about their state of the nation. I am not sure that any security agency can help now. The world is netwoked and the terrorists are connected, while the security agencies are not. We made a research “Can NATO defend us from the terrorism?”. Of course it can’t. Intelligences should be connected, and it does not exist. When we follow someone as a dangerous person, and they cross the border, someone should continue the following. Russia suggested such intelligence network for surveillance of terrorists, but the West declined, saying “We have NATO to defend us.” Ramzan Kadyrov warned Turkey about the terrorist who later attacked Istanbul Airport, but Turkey did not liste, calling the warning “politically motivated”. London gave asylum to many Chechen terrorists. Vanessa Redgrave is the leading defender of the Chechen butchers living in London. If you dislike Putin, don’t defend terrorists. Attack Putin with words, not with a rifle or a bomb.
Often Western agencies and TVs, as well as N1, or Free Europe, interpreted as a “fresh voice” and “objective new media” which are not orientated regime, or Western propaganda regularly labelled all Russian international media as a “Russian propaganda” or “the soft power of the Kremlin. ” How is it unfair?
Whenever they mention Sputnik, they say “Russian agency Sputnik”…. When they mention N1, they don’t mention who it belongs to. They don’t call Blic “Swiss newspaper Blic” or what. What is the difference between Blic and us? They are not “soft power” of someone, and we are “soft power of Moscow”? In Serbia 98% of the media has been sold to the Western foreigners. These media are throwing mud on us. We don’t hide it, we are not ashamed, we are Russian state agency, but why does that has to be always negative? One of the media belongs to Petraeus, who is ex-CIA. Who mentions that? We don’t have Serbian media. The media are sometimes pro-regime, as we say, nobody likes them, but they cannot be independent. They always do things according the the payer’s interests. No media in such a small market can be profitable and unbiased. That dictates the policy. If I give you money, I don’t want you to talk against me.
Exactly. The authorities always want to cut down unwanted propaganda. In Ukraine, the Russian media are faced with restrictions, a situation around RT Vojvodina shows the complexity of the work of the state media. Did Sputnik encountered problems in the world and where they were encountered?
Sputnik has problems everywhere in the world. The only place with no problems is Serbia. In other countries Sputnik has such problems that the banks refused to open the accounts! Somewhere banned the renting of buildings. Somewhere cancelled the frequency, like in Turkey before the recent détante. We have many problems. If it were really propaganda, then just let us say it, and the people are not stupid, nobody will buy it. I was asked by some of my colleaguies ”How have you become so popular, the most-read media in a year?” And I answered “Ask yourself what you did in the last 20 years when we did it so easily in just one year!” It means quality. We did what we wanted here. Lots of it can be attributed to our qualities but it would have been much harder if someone had tripped us up. We were given interviews from all the desired persons, we have found the building. Unfortunately, we still haven’t got our radio, so we rented time on radio stations like Novosti. We asked for the price, they gave us offer, everything was smooth here. The propaganda is visible, because the lies always gets fatter and fatter. Just let someone speak and they will eventually show who they are.
How do you evaluate the past work of Sputnik in the world and Serbia?
Always look at the people who dislike you. If every now and then the European Commission mentions Sputnik as its greatest threat, it means we did a good job. If they have no greater threat in the EU than Sputnik, it means we mean something. Sincerely I did not expect such a quick success. We have become one of the most influential media in Serbia. There is no media, state or private, which is not quoting us, and that is a measure of success.
You mentioned radio. What are the future plans of Sputnik in Russia, Serbia and the world? Can we expect the channel on TV, for instance?
We are planning to open our own radio channel. So far we appear on Studio B. We have no plans for a TV
channel, but a radio will soon be there! TV would be a logical step forward, and it could happen one day, maybe in form of internet TV, but there is definitely a need for that, for a new fresh voice. We already have news. We need some cameras and that is it. We certainly hope it would happen.