Experts from Giving Voice, Driving Change — from the Borderland to the Steppes project, implemented with financial support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, conducted a study of the media and NGO activities in Central Asia. Specialists covered four countries — Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
As a part of the content analysis of the Kyrgyz media in 2017, at least 2,886 news materials from 14 media have been collected. The media space remains quite limited. The agenda includes topics that relate only to neighboring countries and the official interaction of the republic with other states in the framework of international associations.
State media cover the international agenda in a positive way, private media are often neutral or negative.
According to expert Elira Turdubaeva, the agenda of the media of all republics is formed mainly based on press releases, and fact checking is most often conducted through government agencies, people and publications in other media.
In Kyrgyzstan, Facebook is not a source, because there is a large flow of information, some of which is unreliable.Elira Turdubaeva
«Oddly enough, in Uzbekistan, journalists take topics from Telegram and Facebook, but despite digitalization, people continue to be the main sources of information and rechecking facts for the media,» said Elira Turdubaeva.
Expert Nargis Kosimova told that the situation with social networks in Uzbekistan was explained by the fact that, by decree of the government of Uzbekistan, all government and non-government organizations currently have their own accounts on Facebook.
As for Kazakhstan, the researchers note that even if journalists conduct investigations, they have no place to publish them. Therefore, they mainly concern not political but social topics.
The experts analyzed also the state of NGOs in the countries of Central Asia. The non-governmental organizations of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan see development of patriotism and support of state policy as their main function. In Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, it is the holistic development of society. At the same time, non-governmental organizations of Kazakhstan are most open to interaction online, but there is a question about the quality of information.
In Tajikistan, the civilian sector and the media prefer to cooperate with local authorities, while in other countries they turn to competent experts.
NGOs in Central Asian countries voice the lack of funding as their main problem. In addition, there is a strict legal regulation that affects media activities in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. In Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the civilian sector tells about state intervention in their work.
The problem in Kyrgyzstan is a decrease in public trust, and in Tajikistan, representatives of NGOs and human rights organizations noted the possibility of a physical threat.
Experts stress that the main recommendation to all states in the region is to make government agencies transparent, accountable, open, and place all the information on their websites up to the incomes of officials and the budget balance of the departments. Analysts call for providing access to information for the public and journalists and quickly responding to journalists’ requests.