Three Russian Journalists Discuss Challenges During Five-Day Visit to University of Georgia

Three Russian journalists discussed the challenges facing journalists in Russia with faculty and students and media experts during a five-day visit to the University of Georgia in late October.

Dr. Nadezhda Azhghikina, executive director of the Russian Journalists Union, Yuri Purgin, owner of the Altapress media group, and Gregory Shvedov, editor of the media service Caucasian Knot, participated in a program organized by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The three also talked with journalism educators and professionals about media management strategies during the global economic crisis.

The visit was a part of the collaboration between the Cox Center and the Russian Journalists Union (RUJ). The project is funded by a grant to the RUJ from the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) in Washington.

The program also included two workshops on media management, one in Samara and the other Dagomys, Russia. Both the Cox Center and RUJ also contributed to the project.

“In our media group, we tried to use the global economic crisis as an opportunity to restructure the company, to make it more efficient and more future-oriented,” Yuri Purgin told a group of Grady faculty and students.

“We added some niche publications and made our websites more sophisticated. As a result, the combined circulation of our publications has constantly increased in the last year.”

“Caucasian Knot is trying to give voice to people who, otherwise, would be ignored by media,” said Gregory Shvedov. “Many people outside the region know very little about what is going on in the Caucases. They know only that it is a dangerous zone. Others – especially in Russia – know only what is in the official media.”

In the Grady College, the three Russian journalists had meetings with faculty, learned about WNEG, a commercial TV station that has been acquired by the Grady College, and about the Peabody Awards Program, the oldest electronic award program in the United States, hosted by the University of Georgia.
They also visited three units outside the Grady College: the Carl Vinson International Center, the Center for international Trade and Security and The Red & Black, UGA student independent newspaper.

The program organized by the Cox Center also included meetings in Atlanta with Jay Smith, former Cox Newspapers president, Julia Wallace, editor of The Atlanta Journal Constitution, and Paul Crum, CNN vice president.

“The program in Athens in Atlanta has been very informative and helpful,” said Dr. Nadezhda Azhghikina. “We have made a lot of contacts and friends and have learned about the challenges the US media are confronting. I truly believe that this type of partnership is beneficial to both sides and has the potential to lead to more collaboration.”

“Our collaboration with the Russian Journalists Union has been very valuable to the Cox Center and the Grady College,” said Dr. Lee B. Becker, Cox Center director. “We’ve learned a lot about media in Russia. We hope that this cooperation will continue in the future.”