The SochiReporter team recently presented our project at the 14th All Russia Media Forum, held in Dagomys, Sochi, in late September. This annual forum for Russian print and online media is organized by the Russian Union of Journalists. Among the participants this year were more than 1,000 journalists from local and regional Russian newspapers, as well as European and U.S. editors.
The gathering discussed many global issues, such as the decline of trust in the press, measures of responsibility in journalism, and the social weight of the printed word. There were discussion groups, creativity contests, meetings with politicians, celebrities, scholars, and various workshops held by leading Russian journalists.
One of the highlights of the Forum was the presentation of SochiReporter (www.sochireporter.ru), which is funded by the Knight Foundation. Sochi residents and several local citizen journalists presented our project to the gathering. Visitors could also learn more about us and read related articles at the SochiReporter stand.
Bringing Citizen Journalism to Sochi
On September 26, I led a panel, “Online Media: Citizen Journalism in Russia,” which featured six local newspaper and magazine editors:
- Svetlana Handabak, editor-in-chief, City Fresh (a Sochi lifestyle magazine)
- Irina Druzhinina, law reporter, Zakon i Pravo (a local newspaper about law and order)
- Lana Petrosyan, editor-in-chief, Nashe Vremya (a local weekly for young people)
- Eleonora Ervandyan, deputy editor-in-chief, Nashe Vremya
- Anna Petrosyan, culture reporter, Chernomorskaya Zdravnitsa (Sochi’s oldest quality paper)
- Alexander Kim, Editor-in-chief, Student (a Sochi student magazine)
Some of the issues raised on the panel included:
- The current information needs of the Sochi residents, and how they changed after July 4, 2007, when Sochi was awarded the Olympics.
- The role of hyper-local news and how it relates to local newspapers.
- The impact of the financial crisis on local media.
- User-generated content and other new sources of news for local newspapers.
- The need to develop citizen journalism in the pre-Olympic city.
- The growing need for additional public Internet access points, and the local government’s initiatives to wire the city.
The audience was comprised of representatives of Sochi media outlets and journalists from different parts of Russia, such as the Volga Region, the Urals, and Siberia. They participated in the discussion and commented on the novelty and importance of SochiReporter as a model for the Russian media market. The participants also noted that this is the right time to initiate a discussion about new models, as both Sochi and the industry are undergoing big transformations.
Right now, Sochi is receiving a lot of attention in Russia because of its preparations for the Olympics. The stakes are high for the city, and for SochiReporter.