BAJynki Festival Was Held Near Baranavichy Despite Refusal of Local Camp Site
Sport and Leisure Festival BAJynki was held 25 July in a wonderful forest camp site near Baranavichy for participants of BAJ Young Leaders Program. About 20 young journalists took part in the festival together with BAJ management and editors of independent media.
It was planned to hold BAJynki Festival for two days, but the program of the meeting had to be changed urgently. The reason was the management of Haryzont Tour Tourist Camp refused to accept BAJynki participants. They informed BAJ they would not let anybody in just on the eve of the festival, despite of previous agreements and payment made in advance. Besides, the management of the camp gave no clear reasons for the refusal.

Anyway, the organizers managed to find another place for the festival.

The festival was called BAJynki by analogy with Dazhynki, an annual state harvest festival held by the authorities and usually used for propaganda of the "achievements" of Belarusian agriculture and carried out in a Soviet style. Being "inspired" by the name of the festival, the organizers open it in a satiric style. Presenters greeted everybody as if they were at a Soviet parade, having adjusted old propaganda slogans to modern journalistic reality of Belarus.

The first task the participants had to fulfill was creation of "anti-newspapers". Yanina Melnikava, the author of the idea of "anti-newspapers" competition, explained that the teams had to issue propaganda leaflets that has nothing to do with journalism.

"These are the methods state media uses, and sometimes journalists of non-state media use as well. So, we introduced a bit of self-irony and satire to the competition", Yanina Melnikava says.

Two press club sessions were also held during the festival. The first one was dedicated to the issue of self-censorship in printed media.

"If we understand self-censorship as self-control and professionalism this is good. Still we have to keep it in mind that a newspaper is not a leaflet or a propaganda placard, but a means of professional informing of the public", Uladzimir Janukevich, the head of Intex Press Publishing House from Baranavichy, said as he was making a summary of the press club session.

Participants of the second press club session concentrated on the topic of online media and possibilities of earning money in Internet.

"News online projects have to offer their visitors some additional services to attract people", Andrei Aliaksandrau, the head of Navapolatsk Branch of BAJ, admitted. 

"This is a world-wide tendency that contents is only an addition to a service. If Belarusian online editors do not take it into consideration, nothing is going to happen", Jury Sidun, the editor of Generation.by web-site, supported the idea.

The work of the press clubs was followed by football and volleyball competitions, although to find the winners was nothing but a symbolic act as the main idea was to get people acquainted and make them feel the team.

There was a "bright point" in a program of the festival when all the participant "left their sign in history" by putting their paint handprints on a white canvas. Thus the festival, informal in its essence, went to its even more informal part with a lesson of mediaeval dance and a concert by Belarusian bards.

"We hope that BAJynki will become an annual tradition for BAJ. I see it not as an official summing up of the results of our work, but as an informal meeting where you can be yourself", Alina Suravets, Deputy Chairperson of BAJ, says.

Zhanna Litvina, the Chairperson of Belarusian Association of Journalists, sees BAJynki as a "reincarnation" of Festival of Independent Press that used to be organized by BAJ.

"I am happy that we had a festival to gather representatives of a new generation of BAJ activists, the people with new energy and new ideas who do not have a sad experience of disappointments. This is a good beginning", Zhanna Litvina says.

The BAJ Press Service