By Paula Thomson
American and Russian journalists recently explored each others worlds in a professional exchange program supported by both nations.
From October 28 to November 20, a dozen young Russian journalists participated in the second U.S.-Russia Young Professional Journalist Exchange Program. The Russian journalists spent three weeks embedded at media organizations across the United States, while 12 young American journalists worked at Russian news outlets in Moscow and St. Petersburg during the same time frame. Their objectives: to create positive impressions, gain new experiences and find areas for collaboration.
The Russian participants got a firsthand glimpse of the tools and techniques American journalists use by working at newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, the Wisconsin State Journal and the Florida Times-Union. They learned about trends in journalism such as big data and social media, talked one-on-one with top management at their respective news outlets and worked alongside American staff members.
Many published stories at their respective news organizations, while some took courses in multimedia and photojournalism at American universities.
Russian host media outlets included ITAR-TASS, M24, Russia Beyond the Headlines and Argumenty i Fakty.
The two groups — Russians in Washington and Americans in Moscow — met each other virtually through a digital videoconference on the last day of the program to share impressions of each other’s countries and media organizations.
The journalists traded notes about the two countries’ differences in the types of information publicly available to journalists, access to public officials, response times for information requests and how interviews are published.
The Russian contingent agreed the best part of the program was having the opportunity to experience America’s diversity. Daria Buravchikova, editor at Argumenty i Fakty, arrived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in time to photograph American kids trick-or-treating on Halloween.
Vsevolod Pulya, managing editor at Russia Beyond the Headlines, was assigned to the Denver Post, where he scored an exclusive interview with recently arrested Denver Avalanche hockey goalie Semyon Varlamov and spent his free time snowboarding in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. “The program was a perfect combination of work and play,” he said. He also spoke to a class at the University of Colorado about his media organization and differences between Russian and American media companies.
The American journalists agreed that they had an “awesome experience.” Andrew Denney, a reporter with the Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri who was assigned to Russia Beyond the Headlines in Moscow, said the group, “really wished we had more time there. A lot of us found out that there were more stories in Russia than we had initially expected. There’s a lot to report on here.” He wrote a blog for his home newspaper about what officials are doing to reduce gridlock in Moscow.
The exchange program is a product of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission Sub–Working Group on Mass Media. The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the Moscow Union of Journalists partnered to organize the exchange program, which was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
You can read more about the experiences of the Russian and American journalists on the program’s Tumblr page.