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Chelyabinsk, Russia

Chelyabinsk State University

These are students and faculty at Chelyabinsk State University in the heart of Russia, where I’m on a week-long visit to meet with journalists, scholars and media executives. The trip, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, has been eye-opening.

It’s never a surprise to find bright, engaged people in other places. The world overflows with such folks, here and in many other places.

I do have mild surprise, however, at the speed with which the ideas behind citizen journalism are spreading globally. There’s a growing recognition that is a key part of our media and journalism future.

Certainly there’s been some serious skepticism, which is natural and valuable. The questions are helping us to fix the problems in this arena, and to discover new ones. (A local state-run TV station reporter, for example, was fairly insistent on making our interview into a bloggers-versus-journalists bout, and was plainly miffed when I declined to go along with that construction.)

The Russian government has clamped down on traditional media in a powerful way. Television news, I gather, is for all practical purposes a government PR machine, and many (though certainly not all) newspapers are self-censoring for fear of annoying the Putin regime and/or local and regional authorities. The Internet is, for now, a relative bastion of free speech. Citizen media, in that context, takes on more and more importance, as does the notion of entrepreneurial journalism that competes with the traditional press.

Needless to say, I’m learning as much as I’m teaching on this trip. More later…

1 Comment on “Chelyabinsk, Russia”

  1. #1 JohnN
    on Oct 4th, 2007 at 6:12 am

    I am interested to find out more. There is such a wall of silence around Russia its difficult to find out what is really going on. Citizen journalism is probably the only way to get to the truth in Russia. The TV and the press are in bed with Putin.