Telling the Stories “Through People” in Ekaterinburg

Dates: 18 – 22 November 2013

Country: Russia, Ekaterinburg

ekatarinburg_workshopAnna Kolesnik was struggling with a sore throat but gamely agreed to read out her story to the rest of the journalists in the group. Anna, a reporter on Rossiyskaya Gazeta, told the moving tale of a mother’s struggle to bring up and find a school for her autistic child.

Her story highlighted the problems faced by the parents of autistic children in a country where the condition is not universally recognised or understood. Anna’s story was the pick of a fine crop of stories produced by 16 journalists on a Media Diversity Institute workshop on Reporting Diversity in Ekaterinburg, the capital of Sverdlovsk region , from 18 -22 November.

“The course has really helped me to understand the importance of writing about minority and marginalised groups, and also how to give those people a voice and write the story in an interesting way,” Anna said. “These people are all part of our country and they have a right to be heard.”

The journalists faced the challenge of finding and writing stories on the themes of diversity and inclusion. The aim was to find strong “case studies” and tell the story “through people”.

They were given two days of training, covering ethical and inclusive reporting, style, structure and sources, and then had two days to produce a story.

The result was some powerful stories about a wide range of people who are outside of mainstream society and suffer from unfair discrimination.

The articles included the struggles of an Uzbek immigrant trying to make his way in Russia; the growing number of teenage suicides; and the people whose villages had no gas for heating or cooking – in a country with vast energy resources.

The journalists will also have to produce three more stories each over the next few months.

The workshop was run by David Harrison of the MDI, and Moscow-based Natalia Bitten. It included talk-and-questions sessions with representatives of minority groups and a presentation of MDI media monitoring in the region. The workshop was one of a series of courses the MDI in the partnership with the Russian Union of Journalists, are running within the project “Fighting discrimination in Russia through tolerant and inclusive reporting.”

MDI and RUJ workshops are being run in four regions across the Northern Caucasus in Dagestan, Stavropol, Sverdlovsk and Saratov.

The Media Diversity Institute (MDI) work is supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.