New study on journalism ethics in Central Asia published

Professor Bahtiyar Kurambayev

Journalism faces a series of ethics crises, particularly in Central Asia because journalism there is marked by wide ethical misbehavior, including lack of balance and impartiality, using multiple fake names, selling and/or buying news and bribing journalists.

A new study by Professor Bahtiyar Kurambaev of KIMEP University in Kazakhstan and Knight Center director Eric Freedman analyzes professional ethical perspectives and practices of Central Asian professional journalists by examining and comparing attitudes in four former Soviet republics that gained their independence in 1991

Professor Eric Freedman

Their article, “Ethics and Journalism in Central Asia: A Comparative Study of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan,” in the Journal of Media Ethics uses in-depth interviews with 24 journalists to examine their ethical ideals in the profession and how their ethical perspectives impact potential democracy. Its significance lies in revealing the gravity of ethical misbehavior in a region many where journalists call ethics a “Western luxury” and where public life has been filled with falsehoods.

Talking journalism in Kazakhstan

Freedman with journalists at government-owned newspapers

Knight Center director Eric Freedman recently spent two weeks as a guest lecturer at East Kazakhstan State University (Amanzholov University), where he spoke to journalism and languages students on such topics as environmental journalism, professional ethics, “peace” versus “war journalism,” social media and cyber-dissent, transborder investigations and press freedom.

The university, founded in 1952, is in the industrial city of Oskemen, Kazakhstan.

Freedman with journalism students and faculty at East Kazakhstan State University

His visit, funded by a grant to the host university from the Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science, included two seminars on research and scholarly publications for faculty members and visits to two high schools, Nazarbayev Intellectual School and the Nurorda School. He also judged a debate at the American Corner of the Pushkin Library and gave television and newspaper interviews.

Freedman with high school students and teachers at Nuroda School.

Freedman, who has been teaching, doing research and training journalists and students in Central Asia since 2002, also toured the headquarters and museum of the two government-owned newspapers in the oblast (district) and spoke at an anti-corruption forum hosted at the university.

Knight Center senior associate director named to advisory board of national climate reporting effort

Dave Poulson, Senior Associate Director Knight Center

Knight Center Senior Associate Director David Poulson was recently named to the advisory board of a new climate reporting initiative of the National Catholic Reporter.

The independent religious news service describes EarthBeat as a place to tell stories at the intersection of “where ecological concern and moral conviction meet.”

The initiative, which just launched, features a column by Poulson that weighs the relevance of personal decisions to limit individual contributions to climate change: On the train to Omaha: Why individual action on climate change matters.

Knight Center director speaks on corruption

Eric Freedman interview on student TV station at East Kazakhstan State University

Knight Center director Eric Freedman spoke recently at an anti-corruption forum held at East Kazakhstan State University. The forum coincided with his two-week stint as a guest lecturer to journalism and language students at the university in Oskemen, Kazakhstan. 


Freedman and MSU Journalism School alum Jim Mitzelfeld won a 1994 Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of a corruption scandal in the Michigan Legislature as reporters in the Detroit News Lansing Bureau.

Here are Freedman’s remarks at the forum:


No society is free of corruption, and that is unfortunately true of the United States as well. Speaking as a journalist, a professor and a citizen, I worry about 3 major types of corruption in our society.

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