Why and Why Now?
Estonian Public Broadcasting in English? “Whose idea was it?” and “Why now?” are the two questions I’ve been most asked in the last week about our new website.
Concerning the first, I can only say a good idea has many fathers. Regarding the second—Why now, 19 years after independence, was it finally funded?—I could only speculate. (And therefore I won’t.)
What I can answer is Why. Because Estonia has no consistent, objective voice in a language not its own.
Some have taken issue with the use of “objective.” Estonians, perhaps rightly skeptical given their history, have asked (and no doubt will continue to ask) how anything government funded can be objective. “Are you not simply a propaganda machine and government mouthpiece?” I was asked by an Estonian friend. I had to admire his bluntness.
I answered him by saying that Estonian Public Broadcasting has been objective in its native language despite the fact it is government funded. He was not entirely pleased with that, and so I offered him the BBC. I mentioned, too, that we’d hired a team of journalists with experience on both sides of the Atlantic, who wouldn't stay long if the place weren’t independent. Skeptics are not easily satisfied, so I can only invite the reader to judge for himself.
Regarding the other burning question, What?, our mission at “News” (as we’re known in the Faehlmanni house) is to offer an English-language window to Estonia. We will offer translations supplemented with background and context for foreign readers, plus a fair helping of original content. And not only will we provide a picture of what is happening in Estonia to the abroad, but we’ll also serve as a platform for when Estonians wish to say something to more than just their fellow countrymen. And we hope to do both those things at the highest professional standard.
Will we succeed? Only the reader may judge. And I am sure you will.