“The future is being taken away from me!” How graduates and applicants of Russian journalism departments see their prospects

“If I respond to the vacancy of MIA Rossiya Segodnya or RT, I will make a deal with my conscience”

Maria, graduate of Moscow State University

I dreamed about journalism since childhood, I liked writing, and it seemed that this profession had an important social mission. When I entered, I thought that I would deal with socio-political topics in some online publication. But in my first year I got an internship at a federal TV channel, and I was very interested in it. I filmed synchros, took interviews, I really liked to communicate with people. However, later I began to analyze the politics of this channel and others like it, and realized that it did not correspond to my beliefs, that if I had stayed there, I would have had to make all sorts of concessions. The only TV channel where I could work, now you yourself know in what condition <we are talking about the Dozhd TV channel - The Insider>.

If I stayed on the federal channel, I would have to make concessions

I can't say that at the faculty they talked about the situation in journalism to the extent that they should have. Of course, there are teachers who openly express their position, and you want to go to their couples. But the official position of the Faculty of Journalism is to avoid possible conflicts.

In February, fears for my professional future, of course, escalated, many disturbing thoughts appeared. I work for a small online publication about music and culture, but even we have become afraid for every word spoken. After I defended my diploma and the first euphoria passed, I realized that I was scared for what would happen next - with me and with the profession as a whole.

Despite this, some sprouts of hope still remain. There are still journalists in Russia who you want to look up to, who inspire you by not being afraid to tell the truth. Therefore, I am not yet ready to give up the idea of ​​working in journalism. But, seeing MIA Rossiya Segodnya or RT among the vacancies, every time I take my hand away, realizing that if I press the “respond” button, I will make a deal with my conscience.

“I don’t want to become a “foreign agent”, but I’m not going to retreat either”

Anastasia, student

I became interested in journalism in elementary school, and a year ago I entered the School of Young Journalists at Moscow State University (SJUZH) and finally decided to enter the Faculty of Journalism. Now I run a Telegram channel, shoot interviews and reports from time to time, and write longreads. And the absence of a routine, the opportunity to spend every day in a special way and meet interesting people, attracts me to the profession of a journalist. In addition, it makes it possible to convey information to people, with the help of it to influence their decisions and opinions.

I was born and live in the Urals, where technical professions are valued much more than humanitarian ones, and especially creative ones. My mother is a housewife, my father is a builder, most of my relatives do not have higher education. For this reason, my decision to become a journalist in the family was not very happy. My father always treated journalists negatively, but he didn’t tell me anything directly. Deep down, he probably still hopes that I will change my mind. Mom made active attempts to dissuade me. She always wanted me to be a lawyer - the salary is higher and the job is more reliable. However, this year, my mother saw my materials and realized that I could not be dissuaded. In the Urals, I see no prospects for a journalist, so I plan to enter a Moscow university, where the influence of relatives on me will be much less.

This year, my mother saw my materials and realized that I could not be dissuaded

The first media I started reading was Meduza. The recognition of this publication as a “foreign agent” was an unpleasant shock for me. And after Dozhd, Ekho Moskvy, Novaya Gazeta were closed, I practically stopped reading the news, only occasionally I go to the Meduza Telegram channel. I believe that the closure of independent media is unacceptable, it violates the rights of citizens of a democratic state.

Today, journalists in Russia do not have many opportunities for work: it remains either to engage in propaganda, which I consider a violation of all ethical codes, or to take frank risks, and I am not such a brave person. About a year ago, I wanted to work in political journalism, but certain events changed my plans. Now I think that my main field of activity will be culture. I collect The Art of Cinema and The Dilettante, I read Post-Science, Schrödinger's Cat. I would like to open my own media about art, in which I could educate the society.

For several weeks after the outbreak of the war, I doubted the correctness of the choice of profession. We were told in SYUZH that if there is an opportunity, it is better to choose something else. However, in recent months I realized that I do not see myself in another profession. I am not at all attracted by the opportunity to become a "foreign agent", but I do not want to retreat either.

A few weeks after the start of the war, I doubted the correct choice of profession

“Some of the classmates in the general chat support the war and defend censorship”

Boris, graduate of the Higher School of Economics

In the first months after admission, our media department seemed to me the realm of victorious liberalism. There was a feeling that absolutely everyone - both classmates and teachers - shared liberal ideals. We had a ceremony of initiation into students, in the final part of which we all together burned a huge poster with the inscription "Censorship". It was very symbolic - such a triumph of freedom of speech. But then everything started to change.

At the initiation ceremony, we all burned a huge poster with the inscription "Censorship" together.

Increased pressure on the media began to manifest itself in the work of our faculty. In the first year, we did an educational talk show “To the Point! Person”, where various figures came, including the opposition. I was one of its leaders. In May 2019, we were supposed to have a broadcast with the participation of Lyubov Sobol. We had already started writing the script, but suddenly the curator of this project and part-time head of the educational program "Journalism" Sergey Korzun <the founder and first editor-in-chief of "Echo of Moscow" - The Insider> told us that the show was going on vacation. Later, he honestly told that the administration of the university demanded that there should not be any Sobol within the walls of our university. In response to this, Korzun decided to close the project. I can’t say that this was the first encounter with reality – I learned about the persecution of the media and the opposition back in high school, when I volunteered at Navalny’s headquarters and went to rallies. But when censorship interferes literally in your educational process, it is very sobering and shows the real state of things.

When censorship interferes literally in your educational process, it is very sobering.

I cannot say that the teachers discussed with us the persecution of journalists. It was generally accepted that HSE was out of politics, so basically everyone kept silent, and even those who calmly wrote about such things on Facebook preferred not to speak out in pairs. But after the outbreak of the war, on February 27, two very respected teachers gave an online lecture for our course on how to live in a new reality, not succumb to propaganda, and respond to various manipulative things in the online space. Everything was very well explained and our questions were answered. I remember that I watched this lecture literally on the way to the anti-war rally.

And in contrast, some of my classmates in the general chat support the war, reproduce the most rabid propaganda theses about the Donbass, and about NATO, and about the “national battalions”. They also defend censorship, they write, for example, that it was right to open a criminal case against Nevzorov. And this is not sarcasm or trolling, they really think so. Fortunately, they are still in the minority, but it is not known what will happen next. I just want to respond to their “where have you been for eight years?” ask: “Where were you these four years when we were taught to resist manipulation and propaganda?” And of course, all these people were very happy about the appointment of Ernest Mackevicius, host of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, as head of the HSE media department. The majority, however, did not like it, one freshman began collecting signatures against his appointment.

It seems to me that in such difficult times it is even more interesting to work, because the importance of independent journalism is growing. I myself cooperate with an independent publication and do not regret at all that I chose this profession. Recently, my friend and I discussed the years of study and agreed that if we had chosen other humanitarian programs upon admission, now we would bite our elbows and complain that this is happening here, but we are not participating in this.

In such difficult times, it is even more interesting to work, because the importance of independent journalism is growing

“I am absolutely not embarrassed by what is happening in Russian journalism”

Eva, student

I decided to enter journalism in the eighth grade. The profession of a journalist interested me because it has many different areas and each one is exciting in its own way: you can be a TV presenter, interviewer, write articles, blog professionally and much more. In addition, there is a lot of spontaneity and activity in the work of a journalist. My parents accepted my choice right away, they understand that in order to be happy, you need to do what you like. At the moment, I would like to realize myself either as a TV presenter who covers the news, or as a travel journalist - you can travel and earn money at the same time.

I like two editions: TASS and RBC. When I am in doubt about any information, I always check these sources, because I am sure that there cannot be errors there. My favorite journalist is Vladimir Pozner, no matter how trite it may sound. I love watching his interviews and delving into the questions he asks. After reading many articles on how to ask interview questions correctly, I realized that he does it as professionally as possible: Posner reveals the nature of his guests and can talk with them about personal experiences without hurting their feelings.

I am absolutely not embarrassed by what has been happening in Russian journalism in recent years. Firstly, I am sure that the situation will improve in the near future and independent media and journalists will be able to develop further. Secondly, now any professional can find himself in another field of journalism, which will be more accessible.

“Why did we get a diploma if almost no one can work by profession in Russia?”

Julia, graduate of St. Petersburg State University

I was lucky: the teachers came across adequate, frank Putinists who would crush us with state propaganda, there were none. Sometimes one of them came for a couple and started with the fact that the next media was recognized as a “foreign agent”, some directly said that some kind of nonsense was happening. But we never had open discussions about pressure on the media, including after February 24th. But one of the teachers wrote an open letter in support of the "special operation" and began to collect signatures - they said that people who were no longer studying or had died were entered there.

Under an open letter in support of the “special operation”, people who are no longer studying or have died at all

My classmates are, of course, shocked by what is happening. Many are disappointed and feel useless: why did we study and get a diploma, if almost no one can work in a profession in Russia? By the way, last year one girl from our group was recognized as a “foreign agent” for activism, she is now in exile <former SMM editor of Team 29 Elena Skvortsova - The Insider> . I also support all these activist things, but I myself am not very ready for them yet.

In the coming years, I plan to do graphic design and possibly develop media for teenagers. Now I am teaching teenagers the basics of journalism and I want to create an environment for them to express their own thoughts, and not what is put into their brains in school. In the classroom in our studio, we try to discuss what is happening, as far as internal censorship allows: on the one hand, you consider it important to talk about something, and on the other, you don’t know how the parents of teenagers will react to it. For example, the mothers of some students did not like the fact that we were analyzing the texts of Meduza and interviews with Yuri Dud. Apparently, they imagine journalism somehow differently.

“I feel like my future is being taken away from me”

Polina, graduate of Moscow State University

Entering the Faculty of Journalism in 2018, I thought it would be cool to work in some kind of Meduza or Novaya Gazeta, although at that time I was not very immersed in the agenda and didn’t read the media much. In the first year I was disappointed, I even thought about dropping out: there were few specialized subjects, plus I was not very lucky with the teachers. As a result, I decided that I would work in advertising or marketing, but then I entered the module of political journalism - and everything changed <in March of this year it became known that the administration of the faculty decided “for optimization” to combine the educational modules “Political Journalism” and “ Social journalism - The Insider> . There we actively studied, learned to work with sources and discussed what was happening in journalism and with journalists, for example, a search at Roman Anin's. So in my third year I realized that I really wanted to be a journalist, and then I got an internship at Novaya Gazeta.

When the war started, our teachers tried very hard to support us. But, according to my feelings, these are still isolated cases - the majority is silent and tries not to speak out on this topic. True, there are also teachers who post videos in support of the war on their VKontakte pages.

Most remain silent and try not to speak out on the topic of war

Of course, the situation in Russian journalism is sad, and there is a feeling that my future is being taken away from me. However, the thought that everything is banned in Russia and therefore I will not do my job does not arise. On the contrary, I become angrier, I want to say and do something even more. I understand that this is my place, and I am ready to take risks. Many publications work for a Russian-speaking audience, physically not being in Russia - perhaps this is my version.

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