The International Youth Forum “Baltiysky Artek” hosted public debates covering the following topic: “Reporters are responsible for information published. Should bloggers be responsible too?” Disputants were trained and prepared by representatives of the St.-Petersburg League for parliamentary debates.
Within two days professional debaters hold qualifying public debates where any forum participants could take part.
During this time, over twenty rounds of debates were played, and issues related to integration of Kaliningrad into Germany, and prospects of erecting a Nuclear Power Plant in the Kaliningrad region, etc. were discussed.
Following the results of qualifying rounds, the best speakers took part in demonstration debates dedicated to responsibility within the blogosphere. Prior to beginning of the final round of debates, Aleksandr Tsypkin, Director of Public Relations of North-Western Branch of Megafon, has delivered a speech to participants of a forum with a master class “PR determines reality or the blogosphere is omnipotent?”
Elena Golubeva, shift supervisor of “Obshchestvo Budushchego”, Vasily Bykov, the project manager of “Baltiysky Artek”, Vladimir Shahrur, representative of the St.-Petersburg League for parliamentary debates, Igor Faminykh, the head of sales group, sales and service department for the business market of the Kaliningrad regional office of North-Western Branch of OAO Megafon, Marina Boytsova, the reporter of “Rosbalt” news agency, Andrei Mikonin, the lawyer and partner of law firm S&K Vertikal and Aleksandr Tsypkin, Director of Public Relations of North-Western Branch of Megafon acted as judges and experts of the game.
Participants of debates brought up the issues related to freedom of speech, analyzed the importance of speed and reliability communication, public and private nature of blogosphere and the Internet space, compared specifics of activity carried out by bloggers and by reporters, assessed opportunities and prospects of impact of Internet magazines as compared to traditional mass-media, and the necessity of legislative regulation of bloggers’ responsibility.
Finally, according to spectators’ voting and expert opinion voiced by panel of judges, the winner was declared: the opposition team which managed to prove that bloggers should have lesser responsibility as compared to reporters, and to have possibility to post any materials they wish. The project “Debate” stipulates that winners are not people whose appeal met with a more generous response of the public, but those who proved more convincing.
Andrei Mikonin, the lawyer and partner of the law firm S&K Vertikal has made comment concerning the real responsibility, “At present, the responsibility of mass-media is limited in favor of the freedom of speech enjoyed by professional journalists. It would be impossible to establish even minimum control over bloggers (not over every blogger). However, all the citizens, including bloggers, are and shall be liable for their communications.”
The St.-Petersburg League for parliamentary debateswas established by student initiative group in co-operation with North-Western Branch of OAO Megafon. The partners of League are: North-Western Branch of OAO Megafon, “Delovoy Peterburg”, and “VKontakte”. The League is aiming to establish a united League of debates for all the universities of the city. Even now the League organizes trainings, seminars, workshops, and games at the major universities: St.-Petersburg State University, Polytechnic University, St.-Petersburg State Engineering–Economic University, Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia. From the date of its creation, the League held over 20 tournaments, both at university and at municipal level, which involved teams from Moscow and the Northwestern Federal District. During the season 2010/2011 the League held a series of open tournaments of parliamentary debates in British format (“Gingham”, “Polka dot”, “Necktied”) crowned with a summary championship “Polemic”.