SochiReporter Becomes Major Russian Media Player in 2010

    by Alexander Zolotarev
    January 13, 2011

    2010 was a very good year for us at SochiReporter. In late December we took time to analyze the year’s achievements and, to be frank, I was excited about the list of various activities SochiReporter initiated or participated in.

    Of course, I try to be cautious about praising myself and our team too much, as satisfaction is always a killer of development and a friend of stagnation. The undeniable good news, however, is that SochiReporter launched in the fall of 2009 and we managed to reach some serious heights in 2010, especially on the marketing side of the product.

    SochiReporter is a citizen journalism platform that reports on the preparations for the Olympics, by the people and for the people. As a result of our efforts, the site is today one of the most advanced websites in Sochi, especially when it comes to interactive tools, features, and design. Its possibilities and potential are enormous and still to be realized in many ways. SochiReporter is the best Drupal website in Sochi and one of the best Drupal sites in all of Russia, according to the Russian Drupal community and the local programming community. Right from the start, the project was designed to be much more than just a blog, or a news wire; we envisioned it as a multi-functional tool that can also be an educational platform. SochiReporter is the first global initiative to build a unified digital archive of the multimedia resources about the preparation of the host city for the Olympics.


    Stories about the transformation of the city were abundant in 2010. Just recently we received a report about the demolition of the “iron flea market,” where an office and shopping center will soon be built. Another example is today’s post about the restoration of the famous summer-house of V. Barsova, a famous Soviet times opera singer. Citizen reporters are able to express how these kinds of changes affect the daily lives of residents.

    2010 Highlights

    SochiReporter enjoyed wide media coverage from both traditional and online media. Our site was featured in about 300 online media articles, 13 TV reports (that were aired 30 times), and over 20 newspaper stories. Here’s a quick list of some of the key activities I engaged in over the past year:

    • I organized roundtables and participated in a number of professional conferences, presenting SochiReporter in Russia and worldwide.
    • I negotiated with and attracted our first partners.
    • I worked to raise the number of users, utilizing social media and other platforms to spread the word.
    • I communicated with potential advertisers, delivering presentations in their offices and meeting with them in other venues.
    • I worked to diversify the number of topics covered on the website, and increase the brand awareness nationally and globally.

    To put it in a nutshell, my activities were aimed at strengthening our young brand.


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    And here’s a look back at some of the highlights from 2010:

    January: Cooperating with McDonald’s
    SochiReporter supported McDonald’s International Child Day on November 20. The Ronald McDonald Foundation is working to open child-care rooms in Russian hospitals all over the country (about 10 rooms are already open). SochiReporter, along with just a few other media outlets, helped with charity activities that raised 10 million rubles towards opening three more rooms in three other Russian cities. We partnered with McDonald’s for a similar project early this year.

    January: A Mobile Journalist School for the Students of Sochi
    We organized a two-day seminar offering tips on how to blog, use social networking, and generate content. Professors from the faculty of journalism at Moscow State University took part as lecturers.

    February: Sochi Winter Music Conference
    SochiReporter was selected to be a media partner of the fifth Sochi Winter Music Conference, a two-day business forum and three-day music program. SWMC brings together well-known figures in show business, music journalists, DJs, producers, promoters, record company owners and managers, radio and TV presenters, brand managers, and music festival organizers. These creative, active and talented people are also sophisticated web users. Thanks to this collaboration, all of the 1,500 participants left with a SochiReporter leaflet in their conference bag.

    February: Winter Olympics in Vancouver
    SochiReporter participated in the Fresh Media Olympics conference. I Skyped into the conference from Sochi to connect with the dozens of bloggers and citizen reporters who gathered to cover the Winter Olympics.

    June: Kinotavr
    SochiReporter was selected to be the media partner of Russia’s second largest film festival, Kinotavr. We were the only Sochi media to be named a media partner. (Other media partners were big Moscow-based media outlets as the Channel 5, STS, Hello! Magazine, etc.).

    June: MIT Center for Future Civic Media Conference
    This conference was one of the highlights of the year. After attending, I spent a week in Nebraska as the first Innovator in Residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Journalism School, where I met with students and faculty members and presented SochiReporter.

    October: Abandon Normal Devices
    I presented SochiReporter at the Abandon Normal Devices festival of new cinema and digital culture in Manchester, U.K. I also participated in the one-day #Media2012 conference.

    October: Paralympics Action
    SochiReporter reporters organized Paralympics Action to spread knowledge about the Paralympics and the Paralympic values in Sochi. This event was also aimed at supporting the creation of an accessible environment for disabled people. SochiReporter will continue to work on this important theme.

    English Translation, Roundtables, Mapping
    In 2010, SochiReporter started translating citizen journalists’ posts into English. We also organized a number of roundtable discussions, including one on how residents of the city can unite on the web to fight smoking. I also spoke at a World Health Organization anti-smoking symposium in Sochi, I also moderated a roundtable on user-generated content at Moscow State University. Participants were the heads of seven leading Russian Internet sites. We continued our collaboration with Kodak, which saw digital cameras given to our citizen reporters. We also worked with Kodak to outline a Moscow replica of SochiReporter. Finally, back in Sochi, we initiated and fostered the creation of the OpenStreetMap of Sochi, which you can see below.


    I hope 2011 is just as exciting and eventful.

    Tagged: citizen journalism marketing mcdonalds olympics progress report russia sochireporter vancouver games

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