Steppe change as US media blitz brings glitz to Mongolia

Updated 18 January 2013
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Steppe change as US media blitz brings glitz to Mongolia

A US media invasion of Mongolia, which has ridden a globalization wave since shaking off communism two decades ago, is making waves.
Mongolians are avid readers and the country’s literacy rate is over 97 percent, a legacy of the Soviet-era education system which saw village boarding schools set up for nomads’ children. Even in the vast nation’s distant grasslands herdsmen are to be found reading crumpled two-week-old newspapers inside their felt-covered yurts.
With its economy roaring on the back of a mining boom that fueled 11 percent growth last year publishers now see opportunities from targeting newly wealthy Mongolians with premium-priced, Western-linked products.
Launched in December 2010, Cosmopolitan has built a circulation of 5,000 copies. National Geographic has since followed in its wake.
The US financial news agency Bloomberg set up a joint-venture television station in Ulan Bator in October, aimed at the city’s emerging financial kingpins and ordinary people looking for advice on what to do with their free government-issued shares in state-owned mining companies.
With the rapidly shifting economy, fast urbanization, major infrastructure projects and environmental threats, the Mongolian-language National Geographic is also making an impact, despite its steep cover price of MNT20,000 ($ 14.40).
“Many people are concerned about nature and how it can be preserved while we simultaneously develop our economy,” said Khaliun Tseven-Ochir, the general manager of Irmuun, which publishes both National Geographic and Cosmopolitan.
“Through National Geographic we can influence our country’s leaders to avoid the mistakes that have been made in the past. Our readers expect us to raise these issues,” she added.
Images of Kim Kardashian and Mongolian model Sarnai Saranchimeg were the primary selling points and for those who buy it for the articles, there were interviews with Ulan Bator mayor Bat-Uul Erdene and actor Jack Nicholson, plus a profile of the late Steve Jobs.
“Before we launched most people thought that it is just porn. But we are challenging that perception with intellectual articles that will help keep our Mongolian men informed,” said editor-in-chief Bolormaa Natsagdorj.
Mongolia has 2.75 million people spread across an area half the size of India, and its media landscape is as wild as its physical one.
The new magazines compete with dozens of local publications, many of them trashy tabloids filled with yellow journalism, often with unsourced facts.
Some owners of major daily newspapers — which do not do not reveal circulation figures, but are said to sell 5,000-8,000 copies — have family or friendship links to top politicians.
But the arrival of US media can only raise local reporting standards, said Khulan Jugder, a journalism instructor at the capital’s University of the Humanities.
“Mongolian media stations are all private and politicians own many of them. So they can’t inform in an unbiased way or make objective programs,” she said.
National Geographic is mostly translated. Around four hours a day of the Bloomberg television programming is local, and the rest translated from Hong Kong. For now they are more emblematic of a social transformation that is already seeing young, upwardly mobile Mongolian women challenging traditional norms of career choice and lifestyle.
Mongolia’s Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, 46, seems to epitomize the changes. A Stanford graduate and one of nine female members of the country’s 76-seat Parliament, the Great Hural, she has moved up the ranks of government with positive energy, a can-do attitude and an array of fashionable trouser suits.
Cosmopolitan “certainly helps our young ladies and girls gain confidence in themselves,” she said. “Women need to share their secrets of success, beauty and strength. Sisterhood is a natural need of every woman.”


‘Hero’ Malian saves child, 4, in spectacular Paris rescue

Updated 28 May 2018
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‘Hero’ Malian saves child, 4, in spectacular Paris rescue

PARIS: A young Malian man was hailed a hero on Sunday after he sprang into action to save a four-year-old child hanging from a fourth-floor balcony by single-handedly scaling the facade of the building and hauling the youngster to safety.
Without a thought for his own safety, Mamoudou Gassama took just seconds to reach the child in a spectacular rescue captured on film and viewed millions of times on social networks.
The incident took place at around 8:00 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Saturday in northern Paris.
Film of the rescue shows Gassama, 22, pulling himself up from balcony to balcony with his bare hands as a man on the fourth floor tries to hold on to the child by leaning across from a neighboring balcony.


On reaching the fourth floor Gassama puts one leg over the balcony before reaching out with his right arm and grabbing the child.
Firefighters arrived at the scene to find the child had already been rescued.
“Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child,” a fire service spokesman told AFP.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo praised the young migrant on Twitter for his “act of bravery” as well as phoning him personally to “thank him warmly.”
“He explained to me that he had arrived from Mali a few months ago dreaming of building his life here.
“I told him that his heroic act is an example to all citizens and that the city of Paris will obviously be very keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France,” she added.
The young Malian will next be honored for his brave rescue by French President Emmanuel Macron who has invited him to the Elysee Palace on Monday, his office told AFP.
Tracked down by reporters 24 hours after the heroic rescue, Gassama said he had acted without thinking.
“I saw all these people shouting, and cars sounding their horns. I climbed up like that and, thank God, I saved the child,” he said.
“I felt afraid when I saved the child... (when) we went into the living room, I started to shake, I could hardly stand up, I had to sit down,” he added.
According to initial inquiries by the authorities, the child’s parents were not at home at the time.
The father was later held for questioning by police for having left his child unattended and was due in court later, a judicial source said. The child’s mother was not in Paris at the time.