The Kloop Media Foundation’s American presence began in 2013 based in a believe that democracy is the best form of government; realizing that the Central Asian region is currently a battleground for democracy; that a well-informed electorate is critical to the survival of democracy; and that a well-trained press corps takes center stage at delivering necessary information to the public so that citizens can hold their elected officials accountable.
The Kloop School of Journalism has been training journalists since 2007 in Kyrgyzstan, the heart of Central Asia. The Kloop Media Foundation is a direct partner to this school which makes progress everyday at carrying out our mission and objectives.
To promote freedom of speech and democratic values through education of the next generation of journalists in Central Asia.
- Increase access to quality journalism education in Central Asia
- Promote democratic values
- Reduce radicalism
- Promote understanding between Central Asian and other peoples
Since the Soviet Union break-up in 1991, most of Central Asia suffers from state control on media, and the lack of freedom of speech. In countries like Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan it led to the situation that is even worse than it had been before, when these two states were part of the USSR.
Kyrgyzstan is the only Central Asian republic that reached success in gaining media freedom and high-quality journalism standards, but even in this country authorities still attempt to limit the media freedom by blocking news websites and proposing controversial legislation.
Every Central Asian country has had a sad experience of media websites being blocked, journalists being detained or beaten, newspapers and TV stations being shut down.
But one aspect that is especially dangerous for the freedom of speech in the region is that there are very few opportunities for young people to receive an education in journalism.
The only way to study journalism in most of the Central Asian countries is by enrolling into the journalism department of the university. But the vast majority of them do not provide students with practical experience, which is crucial in this profession.
According to the students of the journalism department of one of the major universities in the country — Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University — for two academic years they had just one practical subject, the issue of a student newspaper which is distributed just within the class.
To make it even worse, some countries of Central Asia don’t let independent media training organizations perform their activities — that was how Uzbek journalists lost one of their few educators when the US-based Internews Network were forced to close their office in Tashkent and cease any operations in the country.
That leads to the situation when media outlets do not follow journalism standards not just because of authorities’ repression, but also because of incompetence of the staff that works there.
There was a case in November 2010 when journalists of a leading Kyrgyz news agency 24.kg totally perverted the facts of a blast near the Bishkek Sports Palace, when they published a news story with a headline that said that the Palace “was blown up”, making an impression that the building is severely damaged, while in reality only one window was broken and three people were slightly injured.
An August 2011 experiment led to Akipress and Kabar news agencies publishing a totally fake story based on a hoax press release sent by Bektour Iskender, one of the Kloop founders.
From the very beginning of its existence Kloop Media Foundation was aimed at filling the educational gap in the Kyrgyz media environment — the organization has been providing journalism education to young people from all over the country since 2007, which resulted in dozens of alumni who are mostly successful media professionals today.
When the most popular Russian-language newspaper in Kyrgyzstan — Vecherniy Bishkek — started a major redesign of its online version in 2011, it invited two of Kloop Media School’s alumni to the team that was behind of one of the biggest changes in the history of this outlet.
Dmitry Denisenko (Kloop alumnus of 2007) and Anna Yalovkina (Kloop alumnus of 2008) were invited to join the new young team of Vecherniy Bishkek, which helped to make vb.kg the most popular news website in Kyrgyzstan by the end of 2012, according to the Net.kg rating.
Timur Toktonaliyev (Kloop alumnus of 2007) is one of the leading reporters at the Kyrgyz edition of Radio Liberty — and he has just turned 20 years old in December 2012.
Kloop Media wants to educate young people from all over Central Asia in its school in Bishkek. The organization has had an experience of working organizing similar media schools in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, but in either of these countries providing beginner journalists with practice was accompanied with certain difficulties, especially when it was needed to interview and gather information from officials who would usually refuse to do that.
Kyrgyzstan is the only country in Central Asia where beginner journalists can cover any scope of events, including the most important political processes — Kloop Media Foundation’s news website (www.kloop.kg), where all the contributions are made by students and alumni of its school, has been on the forefront of covering the most important events in the country since the establishment of the organization.
Kloop Media Foundation aims to provide Central Asian young journalists with the ability to get practical skills in journalism, covering real important stories, in a relatively free media environment of Kyrgyzstan — the only country in the region, where it is still possible.
At the same time, Kloop aims to teach them how to cover stories according to Western standards of journalism, where news are required to be balanced and impartial, and every fact should be proved by at least two sources. Kloop believes that writing stories in a balanced way actually saves journalists’ lives — in countries like Kazakhstan or Tajikistan, balanced reporting usually significantly decreases the probability of having troubles with the authorities, even if one of the sides covered is opposing the government.
It is expected that after returning back home, participants will start the high-quality impartial and unbiased — and thus a safer one — coverage of the processes happening in their home countries.