Skip to comments.Springer launches Russian edition of Newsweek
Posted on 06/11/2004 11:49:36 AM PDT by RussianConservative
Newsweek magazine launched a Russian edition on Monday, less than a week after the sacking of a top television newsman reawakened concerns about media freedom in post-Soviet democracy. German publishing group Axel Springer has ordered an initial print-run of 50,000 copies, to go on sale in Moscow, St Petersburg, Samara and Yekaterinburg.
"Our target audience is middle class and when we write our stories we imagine someone about 30 years old," Leonid Bershidsky, editorial director of Axel Springer Russia, told a news conference. The magazine's launch comes as independent media are under growing pressure in Russia. It will be the only Russian edition of a major international news magazine on the market and comes after Newsweek pulled out of an earlier venture three years ago.
Although the print media are relatively free from blatant state interference, most people get their news on television, which is effectively under state control. Russky Newsweek's first edition carried a detailed report about last week's dismissal of TV presenter Leonid Parfyonov.
He was fired after criticising his employer, the NTV network, for pulling off the air an interview with a slain Chechen rebel leader's widow. Two men who Russian officials admit were spies are on trial in Qatar for the killing of the woman's husband.
The cover story was about Russia's high octane oil export boom, which has fuelled a consumer binge and a taste for luxury goods, seaside holidays abroad and foreign cars. Newsweek pulled out of an earlier venture in 2001, two years after launch, when local partner Itogi changed its management.
"If Newsweek feels at any point that things are not working, Newsweek will stop participating," Ron Javers, editor for special editions at Newsweek International, said of the partnership with Springer. He added the magazine would fiercely uphold its editorial independence. The most formidable challenge facing Springer will be to distribute the news magazine simultaneously throughout Russia.
Prices for newspapers and magazines are determined by the distributor, not the publisher, and often vary considerably according to where they are sold in the vast country.
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