Russian journalists learn from Americans

By Randy Patrick
Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 8:21 am

Source: (

Five Russian journalists who visited Bardstown Thursday contrasted the freedom of the American press with the constraints under which they must work in their country.

Open World journalists from Russia stand outside of The Kentucky Standard in Bardstown, KY.

“I think it’s important to explain to everyone with whom we meet that it’s impossible to compare American journalism and Russian journalism because in Russia, there is no journalism, Yekaterina Klepikovskaya, editor of the 7×7 Online Journal, said during a nearly two-hour meeting with staff of The Kentucky Standard and PLG TV-13.

Klepikovskaya said there are journalists who do good work, but “they are under pressure, because if they become popular, some not so pleasant things can happen to them.”

“There are only a handful of news journals that are independent. They don’t have access to federal broadcasting. They’re more internet-based,” she said.

The journalists were participants in Open World Leadership Center exchange. The program is an independent agency of Congress to promote understanding and cooperation between civic leaders in the United States and other countries.

They were hosted by the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, based in Louisville, and were one of five groups visiting through the program.

They traveled with a translator, Olga Shostachuk, of Open World, and Laura Duncan, visiting program manager for the World Affairs Council.

They arrived in Louisville Nov. 30 after a day of orientation and sightseeing in Washington, D.C., and met with representatives of several media organizations, including the Courier Journal, Kentucky Educational Television, the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky and the Voice of America in Washington.

The stayed with host families while in Louisville.

Aleksey Yurtayev, reporter for the Bolhaya Derevnya (Big Village) newspaper, said one of the things that was most surprising to him about U.S. media is that people will pay to read newspapers online.

In Russia, he said, they will pay for the print edition but not for online subscriptions.

And, as in this country, newspapers are struggling because of changes in technology and advertising. They have other sources of financing besides subscriptions, he said, but many are operating in the red.

“In Russia, newspapers are dying one after another,” he said.

Klepikovskaya said many of the big publications are dependent on the government.

“There are only a handful of news journals that are independent,” she said, and they are “internet-based.”

Inga Sysoyeva, editor of Krestiyanin, or Farmer, said her company is an example of a media organization that prospers by specializing.

Krestiyanin specializes in reporting on agriculture.

“The thing of which I was impressed here is that American journalists’ mission is not to influence the government … but more to inform the public,” she said.

Sysoyeva, who has been a journalist since 2001, and Yurtayev both said they have seen a tightening of controls on news Russia in the last several years.

They must think more now about “what we can write,” she said, and how it should be worded, and not only in terms of news, but also advertising so that they make sure they don’t offend advertisers or officials.

Yurtayev said the restrictions came after “huge protests” against government corruption, beginning in 2011.

“Before that, we had a few open, online, independent media sources able to talk about anything and everything,” he said, adding that it was similar to journalism in the U.S

Igor Chigarskikh, a journalist for the publication Chance Weekly, said the Russians’ purpose for being in the U.S. was to learn what methods American journalists use to do their work.

“Also, we want to learn how the relationships are built, first of all with the audience — and that is something that is very important to me — and also with the government and the large businesses and advertising,” he said.

Speaking to a member of The Standard staff, Chigarskikh concluded by saying that of all their visits to U.S. media organizations, “this newspaper visit was the most interesting because we saw journalists in action,” he said.

He found it interesting learning about the newspaper’s coverage of the investigation of the murder of a Bardstown Police officer, Jason Ellis, and of the removal from office of former Mayor John Royalty for misconduct.

The other participant was Tatyana Skorodumova, deputy general producer of the Russian State TV channel Russia (RTR), who facilitated the meeting and gave The Standard an overview of the group’s itinerary and an explanation of Open World’s mission.