Interacting With Russia|
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In late 2008, VOA Russian made an exciting move – from radio and television broadcasting exclusively to the Internet! Using new media technologies, they now reach their audience through a website featuring audio and video files along with scripts, RSS feeds, Twitter postings and podcasts. They also have a robust presence on the Russian YouTube. Citizens in Russia and neighboring countries participate in lively debates on important social and political issues using these active online forums.
VOA’s Russian website offers a different perspective and a wide variety of viewpoints not routinely seen in domestic Russian media. “Our visitors want to find out what American political leaders and the American people are saying about the same topics, since these views are simply not available in their media,” says Bill Skundrich, VOA Russian Service chief.
As part of its increasing Internet presence, VOA Russian bloggers participate in Live Journal, the largest and most influential social networking community in Russia. Five bloggers from the Service post entries daily, engaging visitors to Live Journal on a wide range of current issues. The format welcomes feedback, whether negative or positive, and provides the opportunity to address misconceptions about the U.S. or to explain aspects of U.S. society and politics that may not otherwise be easily understood.
Skundrich emphasizes that the blog is the most popular new technique. “The Russian service was the first service in VOA to do the live blogging, on election night,” he explains. One journalist was at the Democratic Party headquarters, and another at the Republican Party headquarters, doing live blogging as the votes were tallied. Inna Dubinski, senior editor of the VOA Russian Service, hosted a very popular video blog the day of President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Reporting from VOA headquarters overlooking Capitol Hill, her video became the fourth most viewed on Russian YouTube.
Not content with its current reach and success, VOA Russian has plans for a number of new and dynamic features. Continuous innovation in the use of new media technologies is vital. “Keep watching,” say Bill Skundrich. “You never know what we’ll do next!”