Boris Notkin, a Soviet broadcaster and host of the popular Soviet program, "Good Evening Moscow," says his show is not censored and is still on the air because of his optimistic approach to problems facing the Soviet Union.
Notkin delivered the annual Grace Adams Tanner Lecture on Human Values at Southern Utah University last week and combined humor with vivid reality in describing the current situation in the Soviet Union.Notkin says, "he walks a very tight rope" in reporting news about the government. He points out that some of the best radical shows on Soviet television have been suppressed or canceled. "I guess I'm lucky," he said."I try to show that no matter how foolish the government action was, that our people are still quite capable of overcoming all those things and are worthy of a better life and they will certainly have it."
Notkin said he feels American television is more professional but also more stereotypical and that personalities come more into play on American news programs because the networks report similar stories. "We have much more variety of news, especially international news," he said, adding that his newsroom monitors CNN and uses its news segments occasionally.
He believes President Mikhail Gorbachev was more pleased before the first of the year with the reporting he and others are doing in the Soviet Union. "Undoubtedly, it is not exactly what he likes to see, from January, because somehow he wants the support of the mass media on various actions of the government that he does not always receive."
Notkin told his audience in the Randall Jones Theater that American reporters paint a rosier picture than the one that exists in Russia. "Last year we had a bumper grain crop but we were able to harvest only one-third of it," he commented.
His television program tackles tough issues and is one of the first to discuss previously sensitive topics since the development of glasnost and perestroika, which he traced historically during his lecture. The show has discussed topics ranging from organized crime to medical care problems as well as other social problems present in the Soviet Union.
He says his country has problems with alcohol abuse, but that the lack of a major drug problem is due to the low value of the Russian Ruble. He said the Chernobyl nuclear explosion was caused by a breakdown in Russian bureaucracy combined with alcohol use among key plant workers.
Notkin has a doctorate in Soviet social history from the University of Moscow and has published 50 articles and three books on political rhetoric and political psychology. He has been a contributor to the liberal publication, the "Literary Gazette," since 1970. He said he had little journalism training and was invited to try out to be an anchor, having been a guest on a Soviet television news program.