The time was 13:41.

Exactly five minutes have passed.

In that five minutes, I went through the four of the most prominent daily newspapers in Ulaanbaatar. All 56 pages of them. (Including 14 pages that are printed in color. Half of those color pages has one or two pictures that are in color therefore technically qualifies as a color page. )

Going through all the headlines of all articles and reading a few that caught my interest required that much time. I actually spent some time reading some of the articles. But usually it’s not worth reading, to put it very very gently. Maybe those working in the government sector will spend slightly more time reading those articles. Or if your distant relative happens to be featured in one of those excruciatingly long interviews that conveniently take the whole page. But I wouldn’t allocate more than 15 minutes of my day reading those papers.

The above mentioned daily newspapers are some of the most prominent ones here in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Majority of the articles are dominated by politics coverage and long interviews of some well known person or a political figure. If you had to describe the mood of these papers it’s gloomy, unimaginative, uninspiring and colorless. A lot like the actual cheap paper it was printed on.

You could say newspapers are somewhat of a reflection of the city that is published in. And boy do we have so many newspapers that are practically the same as each other.

Confession must be made that I am not a journalist or someone who has extensive knowledge on journalism/newspapers/magazines etc. This may not qualify me as a reliable source of a newspaper critic but I guess no one would care as long as I put forward legitimate points that deserve a thought or two.

It’s seriously no fun reading newspapers in Mongolia. I might read some articles online just to try to improve my Mongolian language. Other than that I don’t think readers get much satisfaction out of reading something. Maybe I’m the only one. But I highly doubt it.

Sure it’s news. It’s hard to make news sexy. But I always enjoy reading newspapers of foreign countries. Whether its The Times of Israel, The Japan Times, The Korea Times, Straits Times, The Guardian, BBC, CNN, The New York Times or even the USA Today. I may not have deep interest in all the articles written on those newspapers but if I do read them I know I will have sufficient reliable information to back the article in front of my eyes and I will probably not feel the need to criticize the writing style or the content of the article. That’s usually because in those international newspapers, journalist and other writers write their own personal opinion on a dedicated column usually called “Opinion” or “Views”. And their writing style is straightforward, impersonal, factual and usually includes necessary relevant information to support the article. Which I believe is how newspaper writings should be.

On the other hand in Mongolian newspapers, the patterns I seem to notice all too frequently are writers dropping names, inserting their own personal bias and opinion at every paragraph, calling people names and freely accusing organizations and individuals of all sorts of wrongdoings. I guess some of the journalists get sued from time to time but I heard plaintiffs don’t really follow through but use the sueing tactic to scare off journalists.

I don’t want to overgeneralize too much but the whole newspaper, media sector are filled with people who don’t give a shit about the content or the style. I thought being a reporter or a journalist was an honorable job that services the public with information based on fact and concrete figures. I am not sure the journalists in Mongolia feel the same way. And in return, we readers don’t give a shit, I guess.

And one thing I actually detest in Mongolian writing is how long the paragraphs are. There is sometimes no space between paragraphs and some paragraphs are more than 10 long sentences each. And all sorts of different ideas, causes and facts are all jumbled into one messy paragraphs that eventually loses its meaning and relevance as the articles go on. Shouldn’t it be one clear idea at the start of per paragraph and more information to support that idea in the rest of the paragraph? Shouldn’t the first paragraph of the article give a summary of the event?


I might write more about my lack of gratitude towards newspaper people in Mongolia but who gives a shit, right?

But I do enjoy the occasional features and useful information that are published in ikon or gogo. Those are not bad.

(Some clarification may be in order: I don’t mean all newspapers and by journalists I don’t mean all journalists who work in different media sector. I just mean some of those people who write at daily newspapers. And most of the articles they write gets published on websites, so it doesn’t really make a difference does it.)

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