A non-statement on what is happening to RIA Novosti

In case you haven’t heard, RIA Novosti, the owner of The Moscow News, the paper that was the original reason for my move to Russia – the paper I currently run, that is – is being liquidated by presidential decree. And RIA, in my totally biased opinion, is not just the biggest Russian news agency – it is also the best.

I’ve been tweeting about what’s happening, but I am not currently ready or able to write anything profound on the matter.

The only thing I can say, or want to say, is that I have been really lucky these few years, because I had the best damn colleagues in the entire world. Whenever I think about them, the theme music from “American Beauty” starts playing in my head. Then I get the urge to start prattling on about how grateful I am “for every single moment.”

This has made me realize that the time for analysis will come later. You can’t do much analysis while still technically in shock, while the gears of the very process you are set to analyze are grinding you down.

On the plus side, I finally know why it is I identify with Captain Mal Reynolds (captain of a perpetually endangered spaceship) so much.

You may think I’m joking right now, or making a pop culture reference because it’s cool to make pop culture references in the age that we live in – but understanding your inner Mal Reynolds is a special kind of privilege. Almost as special as working at RIA, come to think of it.

weve done the impossible

6 thoughts on “A non-statement on what is happening to RIA Novosti

  1. I sympathize with your grief at seeing RIA Novosti disappear. But since you’re now an established ‘brand’ in the world of online journalism, you’ll probably find a new gig as an online journalist within seconds (as it were). Professionally you have nothing to worry about.

  2. Hey buddy, I’m sure you mean well – and hope you’re right – but I kinda think you’re missing the point right now. Thousands of people poured their time and energy into RIA Novosti projects over the years. Now all of that is being systematically devalued, tossed onto the trash heap, call it however you want. Thousands of professionals were given the middle finger and told “fuck off, your hard work doesn’t matter.” That is an ugly situation and a nasty precedent to set. One of the great things about RIA was how relatively balanced it was – not rabidly oppositionist, not rabdily pro-Kremlin. That’s why many people saw it as reliable. Getting rid of the biggest Russia media outlet that just happened to traffic in sanity is dumb move. The insult delivered to the journalists is plain cynicism at work. It’s a nasty situation for any good journalist to find themselves in.

    Also, just brushing off someone’s concerns with a “oh, you have nothing to worry about” is kinda rude, buddy. Nobody knows how this bullshit is going to affect Nat’s multi-national family, and while I’m also certain she’ll bounce back professionally just fine, I wouldn’t dismiss all of this with a “you’ll find a new gig in seconds.” The Moscow News is a terrific little paper, and gigs like that – where journalists get to keep their integrity while making a living – are rare in this day and age. Trust me, I used to analyze the media market for a living…

    So what I’m saying, and do forgive me for this long-winded comment, is that maybe instead of offering this cheerful non-concern at the moment, this blog’s regular visitors ought to be pitching in and helping out. Go out there and recommend Nat to an editor you respect! Drop a line to them on Twitter, I don’t know. That’s what I’ll be doing, anyway. Her recent post on Ukraine is great enough that she really ought to be writing it for a big-name outlet (though I respect the decision to publish it here and understand why it needed to come from a personal perspective).

    Also, that Mal Reynolds gif rocks. TY.

  3. Hi Hank! Hi James!

    Hank, I don’t think James meant any harm – and I don’t think he was trying to be rude. Maybe it’s a little flippant to use the word “seconds,” but I’m glad that James thinks I’m a trustworthy “brand.” It’s a compliment!… Even if it’s hard to think of oneself as a brand.

    It IS an extremely upsetting time for all of us, however – Hank is right on that count. And it’s hard to be upbeat about that. But as Svetlana Mironyuk said yesterday, “We grow when we suffer.” 😉

  4. Hank:

    Your comments are noted. I should have put more thought into my original comment. I personally think that, with the Kremlin trying to increase its control of Russian media, it might be very hard indeed for Natalia to find a job in Russian media comparable to her professional experience with The Moscow News. I think that in coming years Russian journalists will be under tremendous pressure to ‘promote Russian values,’ as Kiselyev put it, and Natalia’s professional integrity might be better served if she could find a job in media that are less affected by Kremlin pressure.


    I apologize if I came across as flippant. I’m not trying to dismiss your own reaction to the closure of RIA Novosti. I was just trying to find a silver lining, as it were, during this very dark time for Russian media. Hope things improve for you.

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