Thursday, January 7, 2010

Who was Bobi Tsankov

I must admit an error. Bobi Tsankov, who was killed in downtown Sofia on Tuesday, was not a journalist in the proper sense. He had published a few articles in not very renowned publications, and did some radio shows, but more than anything he is famous for being a criminal himself. He has been accused of frauds for millions, and have close ties to organized crime himself. After all, it was exactly those ties boasted that he would reveal. So the murder was maybe more of an inter-mafia showdown, than an open attack on free speech.

My mistake is completely due to not checking my sources before I write. It is elementary, I have done it before, but there is no excuse.

Unfortunately I was not the only one todo this mistake. In Bulgarian TV today, Bulgarians wonder how the international press spread eactly this point of view, without checking out who Tsankov really was. I am sure they did  not take their information from Maladets! BBC describes him as a "prominent crime journalist" Balkan Insigth use the neutral "Radio Host", while NY Times call Tsankov a "prominent radio journalist and the author of a book on Bulgaria's gangsters".

After all, poor Bobi did publish some articles, so calling him a journalist could possibly be justified, even if it is wrong. But from where did BBC and NYT learn that he was prominent?

Unfortunately, in most people'seyes, and in reports about murdered journalists, Bobi Tsankov willbe a journalist, and Bulgaria a country where journalists are killed, which is something much worse than a country where gangsters kill each other.  Sloppy writing, like this is, helps in building prejudices about a country that too few foreigners even bother to understand. I hope you can forgive Maladets!, but the BBC and NYT should be better.

The other side of the story is that a mafia murder was carried out in broad daylight in the very center of Sofia, which is bad enough.  Was Tsankov really going to reveal something, that was so sensitive? Or did someone within the organized crime want to show Borisov who really rules this country? I don't know...

Anyway, journalism should be about telling the truth, and using the label "journalist" for Bobi Tsankov is a bit too imaginative.

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