Perspektivy training goes beyond writing to media management
It takes more than good reporting and writing to make a media outlet successful and profitable.
Perspektivy provided just what was needed in exploring media management for established and aspiring Russian-speaking editors and managers – expanding on its traditional brief of training journalists in news gathering and reporting.
The event was a first – a Media Leadership Camp in Moscow in December - to explore how to plan and establish an editorial agenda, find a target audience and take account of budget realities.
Nine participants came to Moscow from Russian regions far from the capital as well as from Kazakhstan and Armenia, all eager to sharpen their skills at running a thriving news organisation.
“Adding separate training for editors and potential media managers has been discussed by the Perspectivy leadership for quite a while as a program force-multiplier, as the skills and expertise the participants get there will influence not only their future work but also those who they will manage in their media organizations,” said veteran Perspektivy trainer Nabi Abdullaev.
“Perpektivy’s mentors and coaches, former and active editors and media managers, shared their insights on how to set up and develop editorial teams, how to organise thinking around financing media organisations, how to use side resources for the benefit of your media, how to organise a team producing visual content.”
Participants had already completed a Perspektivy training session and were committed to taking on roles as editors or media managers.
Multiple skills, multiple trainers
“Such people need multiple skills. Hence, we decided to bring in multiple trainers, five in all for a four-day course,” said Anatoly Verbin, another longstanding Perspektivy trainer.
Exercises, he said, “varied from basic documents each media outlet must have, like editorial principles and a style guide, to the most sophisticated instruments of editorial planning and new media.
“We discussed personal experiences of trainers in setting up, developing and reforming a media outlet, we played professional games, we learned how to obtain, use and make good photos.”
Participants said they particularly valued discussions on editorial planning and on determining their target audience for the wide variety of new platforms, mostly focusing on the Internet.
“Especially important to me – and not so much for me as for my newsroom – was clear planning, effective organisation of our work and efforts to ensure a favourable micro-climate within our collective,” said Lyudmila Moiseyeva, who works at a daily in Udmurtia in southern Russia.
“Our mentors talked about this in great detail. Now we have to try it out.”
Igor Chigarskikh, a reporter for a media outlet in Khakasiya in western Siberia, said he was now focusing his efforts on “determining who our audience is and what their values and interests are.
“As it was explained at the training session, this is more difficult to do in Khakasia as there are no clearly defined social groups in the Russian provinces. But I think we can resolve this,” he said.
“The second thing was the discussion about new social networks and new markets, like (Video sharing platform) TikTok and (games specialist) Twitch. This, again, is important to understand that every platform has its audiences requiring a specific approach.”
Participants were particularly struck by a move by the Moscow Times newspaper to reorient its editorial efforts by publishing in Chinese, instead of in English.
“This was an example of commercial strategy: it started publishing in Chinese once in every two weeks, aiming to capture the audience of numerous Chinese tourists coming to Moscow,” said trainer Abudllaev. “It has stopped publishing in English because the number of English-speaking expats is dwindling and most of them already speak fluent Russian and get their news from the Russian media.”
Much attention was also focused on visuals – photos and videos, often produced by multi-tasking correspondents on smartphones rather than by dedicated photographers or cameramen.
“I prepared a general view on photography and photo journalism, added a review on contemporary instruments of shooting and visualisation, touched most common instruments involved in making a picture properly, showed some methods and techniques of photography and gave them tips on how to photograph with a mobile device,” said trainer Konstantin Leifer.
“Afterwards we went out to practice. I would be delighted to work this visual part deeper. Nowadays news is first consumed visually and than people read.”
But for many in attendance, the most valuable aspect was tackling contemporary media problems alongside their mentors.
“These were professionals who shared their experience. They didn’t say ‘This is the correct way and that way is not.’ They said ‘These are the challenges we face and these are the instruments we can use This one worked, but that one didn’t.’” said Olga Pastukhova, who works for the Tengrinews.kz.website in Kazakhstan.
“You are given the opportunity not only to ask questions, but also to work out with them a project for your media outlet. Or to work out your target audience and sort out lines of communication.”