Young Russian reporter writes without fear – almost

Alla Sumarokovo, participated in World Press Freedom Day in 2016
Alla Sumarokovo, participated in World Press Freedom Day in 2016

Alla Sumarokovo made the leap from a state-controlled TV-station to an independent online media. Here, she attempts to write independent journalism in which she seeks to fully purge herself of self-censorship 

By Joan Rask

Even though Alla Sumarokovo lives in a Russia dominated by control and self-censorship, she actively tries to write independent articles. She now works as a reporter at NewKaliningrad.ru, an online media receiving no state aid.

“I almost feel completely free when I write,” Alla Sumarokovo says.

Top-down
She knows how it is to work for a media where everything is regulated and under control. As a recent university graduate, she got a job at the local TV-station, and she was captivated by the energy in the editorial office and the social issues. Moreover, it was an introduction to a new way of thinking.

“Before, I took it for granted that my editor should tell me how to do things. At that time, I didn’t realize how “top-down” everything was,” she says.

Journalism or press service
During the years at the TV-station she came to understand the role and the responsibility of the media industry.

”Sometimes I think that our profession is on edge of extinction. Most of us are not journalists anymore, we’re more like a press service. And I need to remind myself that things should be different,” she says.

What is press freedom?
NJC met Alla Sumarokovo at the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) in Helsinki in May 2016, where her participation was supported by NJC.

“It’s almost funny and it’s definitely sad to talk about press freedom in our country. In fact, among journalists of my age no one really knows what it is,” she says.

Quit to become a reporter
When she realized what happened in her country, she decided to quit and try something different. Today, she works at the online media NewKaliningrad.ru as a reporter. Here, she attempts to provide the readers with independent journalism, and she rarely feels constrained by self-censorship and control now.

“I am sure that my editor lets me write articles as I wish them to be, but, of course, there are areas that are more sensitive,” she says.

I think it is going to get worse in the coming years, and taking part in the World Press Freedom Conference reminds us that things could be different

Alla Sumarokovo

Alla Sumarokovo knows that a lot of things could be different in Russia.

“I think it is going to get worse in the coming years, and taking part in the World Press Freedom Conference reminds us that things could be different,” she says.

Press Freedom Day
It is the professional field surrounding journalism, freedom of the press, and the well-organised Finnish society that makes an impression on her.

“It is so good to be here in Helsinki, seeing how everything is organised. Seeing that it is possible makes it easy to see the differences,” says Alla Sumarokovo.

Factbox:
NewKaliningrad.ru