Russian Blogs Beat “Real” Russian Media

Blogging in Russia is likely to be more accurate and journalistically sound than any of the traditional, mainstream media in that country, according to Israeli experts on Russia’s media at a conference in Israel on Sunday.

“The blogosphere has more information than the real media,” said Gregory Asmolov, a correspondent for Russian-language TV and magazines in Israel. Israel has about 1 million native Russian speakers, thanks to the period in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Russian and Soviet leaders allowed to emigration to the U.S. and Israel for Soviet Jews after decades of harassment and discrimination.

Anton Nosek, a manager for an Israeli company working for Six Apart (operators of the LiveJournal, Typepad, Vox, and Movable Type blogging platforms) noted that all Russian national TV networks, radio stations and newspapers are owned or controlled by the state — as are two of three news agencies.

“Therefore, no politicians and parties outside the leadership can get major media exposure,” Nosek said. “But it’s different on the Internet. The Internet in Russia is absolutely free, and there have been no attempts so far to control it.” It also has been easy for Russians to set up sites hosted outside Russia — among them, LiveJournal, which has become a leading blogging platform for Russians.

The two-day “Blogference” is at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya — a small, private university that last year opened the first major university-level journalism program in Israel. The conference has attracted several major U.S. bloggers, including Om Malik of Gigaom, Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron, and Gawker founding editor Jessica Coen (who now works at Vanity Fair).

The Sammy Ofer School of Communications, endowed by Israeli mogul Sammy Ofer, this year is beginning an English-language degree program for international students. (Full disclosure: I will be teaching a New Media workshop at that school this fall.)

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