US journalists, meet your Russian counterparts. You’re all now in the same boat. And it's sinking.
This was basically the message featured in the open letter by Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev to his “doomed colleagues,” sparked by the controversy that was Trump’s press conference earlier this week.
This was the press conference where a CNN journalist tried to ask Trump a question and was allegedly threatened with expulsion by the President-elect's press secretary.
Kovalev wrote in an article on Medium that the two countries have an “Authoritarian leader with a massive ego and a deep disdain for your trade and everything you hold dear” in common.
He writes that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual conferences are “Carefully choreographed,” and Putin “Always comes off as an omniscient and benevolent leader tending to a flock of unruly but adoring children”.
He then lists his own observations of Putin, in case US journos need a reference over the next four years.
Facts are irrelevant
Kovalev writes that Putin treats press conferences as a one-way communication, instead of an interview. He writes:
You can’t hurt this man with facts or reason. He’ll always out manoeuvre you.
He’ll mock you for your nervous stuttering and if you’re raising a serious issue, respond with a vague, non-committal statement.
You will be pitted against each other
Kovalev writes that you shouldn’t expect other journalists to ask the question you just received no response to. He writes:
It’s in this man’s best interests to pit you against each other, fighting over artificial scarcities like room space, mic time or, of course, his attention.
There will be sycophancy
Press conferences will be full of questions, choreographed in advance, from small, regional publications, according to Kovalev. He writes:
This is a real opportunity for him to shine.
He knows you need him
He understands perfectly well that he is the news. You can’t ignore him.
Your readership is dwindling because ad budgets are shrinking — while his ratings are soaring, and if you want to keep your publication afloat, you’ll have to report on everything that man says as soon as he says it, without any analysis or fact-checking