Mongolia Newspapers


English Language newspapers

For foreign visitors, the english-language UB Post (referring, of course, to Ulan Bator) is a very worthwhile read, so make sure you take the time to buy a copy when you first arrive. What better way for a first-time visitor to acclimatize themselves to Mongolia, than to take a walk down Peace Avenue, pick up a copy of the UB Post, and sit in an eatery or cafe for a short read? You'll gain an understanding of some of the current issues affecting Mongolians, as well as finding out about events in the country, like music, naadams, plays, markets, and festivals.

The UB Post is staffed by a vibrant mix of Mongolians and expats. For a sense of what it's like for a foreign journalist in Mongolia, pick up the entertaining Wild East: Travels in the New Mongolia by Jill Lawless, who was the paper's editor for a few years.


A brief account of Mongolian newspapers

A lot has changed in Mongolia newspapers over the past 20 years. Back during the Soviet era, the Communist Truth was Mongolia's only newspaper. It would appear on large boards in public areas, and Mongolians would mill around and try to get the latest sanitized news from the Ministry of Truth. During the communist era, the publishing of unauthorized material could lead to imprisonment or death; there were so many informants around that people were frightened to even talk negatively about the government. The Mongolian people had very little access to independent news or thoughts.

But times have changed. When the communist regime collapsed and freedom of the press was granted in 1990, over a thousand newspapers sprang up in a few short years. Most were weekly or monthly, and more than a few of the popular papers contained little more than pictures of large-breasted Bulgarian women!

The standards of journalism weren't exactly high to begin with. Civil courts weren't functioning effectively, so newspaper publishers could get away with the making the most libelous, unfounded accusations against public figures without fear of being sued. Criminal activity, salacious affairs, murders, scandals, muckraking... they were happy to publish anything that sold newspapers, and rarely felt the need to investigate the surrounding facts. To a public more accustomed to dry Communist propaganda in their newspapers, all this was hugely entertaining.

These days, there are some more well-regarded Mongolia newspapers around. Some Mongolian journalists who learned Western standards of journalism at the UB Post have since striked out to create their own, Mongolian-language newspapers. All this augurs well for the future of journalism in Mongolia, but these days the press is having to compete with television (TV's were quite rare in Mongolia twenty years ago). In Wild East, Jill Lawless writes a very readable chapter describing the Mongolian yellow press and its numerous short-comings.




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