Media project of Dmitry Kolezev from Yekaterinburg -
an example of how to write about your city
The It's My City project has long been an additional resource for Dmitry Kolezev, a well-known Ural journalist. He himself worked as the editor-in-chief of the "big" publication Znak and was occasionally distracted by the IMC city website, paid out of his own pocket to several authors and promoted the publication, mainly through his own popular telegram channel. In 2020, Kolezev left Znak to focus on his own city media.
Since 2021, Dmitry Kolezev has been working as the editor-in-chief of the Republic publication, which the Ministry of Justice has included in the register of "foreign agents". Kolezev remains the publisher of It's My City. Since October 2021, Ivan Rublev has been the Editor-in-Chief of IMC.
Dmitry, I wanted to introduce you as "the most media regional journalist." How do you yourself feel about such a definition - "regional journalist"?
- On the one hand, this is an objective fact - our country is divided into the center and regions, and when they say "regions", everyone understands that we are talking about a certain "province". And the objective fact is that I don't live in either of the two capitals. So objectively, I am a regional journalist. Despite the fact that this term in Russia has a slightly ironic connotation, that is, when we talk about regional journalists - 5-7-10 years ago this was still the case - in the subtext it always sounds that this is something less professional, more stupid, what something more provincial - in a bad sense - than the capital's federal media.

It seems to me that now this situation has changed a lot: the phrase "regional journalist" is losing that ironic connotation that it used to have, because a large number of rather cool large and small regional media have appeared: "" in Siberia, Shkul'ev portals [Web sites city portals Hearst Shkulev Holding - approx. In some places], 7x7 - in the northern part of Russia, and so on.

Many small good media have appeared in the regions, which will make professional content that is no worse than the content of regional media. It may be designed for a narrower audience, however, it is of high quality, truthful, meets standards, and is technically well done. So now I can say: yes, I am a regional journalist and not make any reservations or explanations.
Usually when they say: "There are many examples: the first, the second, and so on ..." - this means that the third, fourth and fifth simply do not exist. You named "Taiga", 7x7, some editions of the Hearst Shkulev Digital City Portals Network, the Ural "Znak" - and what other good regional media can we remember - without "and so on"?
- There is "" in Krasnodar, there are Kaliningrad publications - "New Kaliningrad", for example ... Sometimes there is some region from which you do not expect to see an example of good local media - in Magadan, for example, there is a publication "Very". If we talk about the Urals, there is 72.RU in Tyumen. These are regional media, which are not only not embarrassing, but interesting to read, in which something is happening. And then there are a bunch of small, independent media - the so-called "urban". At Znak - God forbid, if a quarter of readers are from the Urals. And the rest - Moscow, St. Petersburg and numerous regions of Russia.
Don't you think that Znak sometimes breaks into "foreign territory" when he writes about other regions, not about the Urals?
- Whose territory is this? We have a country - the Russian Federation is called, we are all its citizens. Moreover, we are all inhabitants of the planet Earth. There is no "someone's" territory here. Just when we were inventing Znak, trying to find a place in this world, we developed this concept for ourselves: "We live in Russia, in Yekaterinburg, yes, this is not Moscow, not St. Petersburg - but who said that only Muscovites and St. do you have a monopoly to talk about the events that take place in the country?" Why can't a Yekaterinburg journalist go to Buryatia to write about a Yakut shaman? This is fine!

Those events that are taking place in the country affect the people of Yekaterinburg in the same way as they do the Muscovites. The virtual space is so much smaller than the real one that it almost doesn't matter where the editorial office is, where the journalists are. Therefore, I don't think that we have climbed into someone's territory, and even if we did, well, excuse me, we have a big country, a big world, there is enough room for everyone in it. And if we can tell a story from Buryatia or Yakutia, and it will be interesting to readers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Syktyvkar - why not tell it?
We live in Russia, in Yekaterinburg, yes, this is not Moscow, not St. Petersburg - but who said that only Muscovites and St. Petersburg residents have a monopoly to talk about the events that take place in the country?
So Znak is more than a regional media?
- Yes. But this also happened not from a good life in its time. When we made Znak in 2012, the Yekaterinburg market was already very crowded:, from where we evacuated the whole team, was already quite a large media then, it had 70 thousand uniques a day - at that time, for Yekaterinburg it was enough cool; was E1; was 66.RU - it became clear that it was no longer possible to get through here, everything is busy, without some kind of huge marketing budget, very large-scale advertising simply cannot reach the audience.

But since Znak appeared as a result of a conflict - the criminal case of Aksana Panova, famous people in Moscow carefully watched him, they wrote about us on Facebook, posted materials of the newly appeared Znak - at some point we realized that we could go to this audience, to talk about what is happening in the country and for Moscow readers.
Don't you have the feeling that the majority of regional readers are simply not interested in what is happening outside their "God-given island"?
— This is an interesting remark. Znak has journalists in the regions of the Ural Federal District. We notice that the residents of Yekaterinburg, for example, are interested in what is happening in other cities, they feel like citizens of the whole country. And there is Kurgan, who likes to read about what is happening in Kurgan, he is not very interested in what is happening even in Yekaterinburg or other neighboring regions - we see this in the reader's behavior.

It is true that there are regions that are closed in on themselves, and there are those that think broadly. I don't know what this is connected with - maybe just with the horizons that the cultural and financial opportunities of the city give.
Let's get back to the history of If I understand correctly, it was a spontaneous story?
This was our life raft. [Founder of Znak and] Aksana Panova had a conflict with her partners, at some point it became clear that she would not be able to stay at Literally in one evening, on our knees, we came up with a new edition: we gave birth to a name, bought a domain name, made a simple website, moved there and ended up on this life raft - and we were carried by the wind, and we didn't have time to think: what kind of media we have made, what we want from it, for what kind of reader is it?

When we started making Znak, the Internet was already completely different, and we began to make media not for the elite, but for the people, which would appeal to the interests of ordinary people. So we tried to make Znak so "popular" from the very beginning. "Narodny" - not in the sense of "Komsomolskaya Pravda", but a publication that will write not about officials, but about ordinary people.

We saw a huge readership, a colossal audience for those times. It included influential businessmen, officials - we understood that everyone reads us. It inspired us: we make evil, malicious media, and cool guys read us. But, of course, it cannot be said that we were changing the world for the better - we simply exploited that agenda. We, as an editorial, were greatly changed by the criminal case of Aksana Panova: we suddenly found ourselves under pressure from the state, the power machine - and this gave us more responsibility, it turned out that the world that we so cheerfully described is quite cruel, and quite dangerous things are happening in the state , and it has entered the DNA of new media.
It turned out that the world that we so cheerfully described is quite cruel, and quite dangerous things are happening in the state, and this has entered the DNA of new media.
Should the media have a pronounced position?
— I would avoid any categorical positions. My personal opinion - as a reader, editor, journalist: journalists can and should have their own opinion (it would be strange if they did not), but this opinion should be clearly separated from the facts.

News should contain information and contain facts, and opinion should be marked as columns, interviews, remarks - and this division should be clear to the reader. This is such a standard of Western journalism, which we still must comply with, because nothing better has yet been invented. The reader may not agree with these interpretations, but he will know that such a point of view exists. This is at least honest.

But each media has its own framing, its own optics through which it looks at the world. The media cannot publish all the news in a day, someone has to select this news - and the media voluntarily or involuntarily selects those news that are close to its picture of the world. The context of the media sets the tone for the facts that are presented. I don't want to say that the media should give up facts that do not fit into their picture of the world, but in any case, the media is a certain view of the world.
Well, let's not discount the fact that every media outlet "with a history" already has its own established audience - which understands its language, its ideology. And they do not feel butthurt about the informational message that fits into this ideological - and stylistic - agenda.
- Moreover - unfortunately, this audience begins to dictate to the media. First you work for the audience and create a permanent core, and then you become a hostage to this core - because it is difficult for you to take steps away from the ideology of this core. Here, Znak has a plus or minus liberal, opposition audience - and I understand that if the site starts publishing columns of some conservative authors, its audience simply will not understand this. She will ask: "Guys, why are you pushing us some propagandists?"

For example, I am interested in the opinion of conservatives and it has the right to exist, and I would like this point of view to be presented on Znak too. Another problem is that we have few conservative publicists who clearly and reasonably express their position: we have either Tsargrad with a radically protective agenda, or liberal media.
Let's talk about It's My City. You left Znak to make this edition. How many people work there now besides you?
- Now the team has eight people, six of them work full-time.
How long has the project been in existence?
- Eight years.
For urban media - this is a huge time. Most urban projects end at the stage: "We tried to break the wall with our head, we didn't succeed, but it was an amazing experience." A city publication, in my opinion, can only exist as an integral part of some kind of media holding that feeds it.
- "Paper" in St. Petersburg exists separately, for example. We succeeded because IMC is not a business project. There is no financial sense, he does not earn, he periodically goes into the red.
You yourself contain the whole story?
- Yes. I also have a partner - Mitya Sidorov - he is my friend and technical director of Znak. This is our media with him, which we perceive as a social burden. So, maybe this is our social activity, which I am not very successful in other areas. We believe that we have a responsibility to the city - to make a small media /
We want it to be independent, we want it not to be biased by political or business groups. We want it to be able to write about anything the way it wants to write.

We do not receive income from it, if there is a small plus, we immediately spend this money on development. There were several months in a row when it was in the red. And, of course, any sane owner would have closed it long ago. But we have a different motivation - we have a mission. So we say: "Well, let's be patient." On the one hand, this is good, because the media is still alive, and on the other hand, it's bad, because it develops like shit.

I will not say that this is not a market story at all. Yes, now we are more or less firmly on our feet, we have a small co-working space in the Yeltsin Center where the guys work.
Where were they before? Houses?
- In Znak's office. They asked for two places to rent there, and the editor was sitting there. The rest worked from home. If it was a business story, we would call an investor, show him a business plan. But there would also be more chances to close. But in any case, I will never give up a controlling stake, because then there would be no point in making a media dependent on someone. What to do with media that will not be free is better to close it altogether. We don't take any money from the municipality, political money - we say, "Why?" Doing another biased media - why the heck?
mestamedia - 3 - kolezev
To make another biased media - why the heck?
You and I talked about the special Yekaterinburg patriotism. For me personally, the story, when the townspeople fought to prevent a temple from being built on the site of the square, was also surprising and here's why: because of the unity of the local media, when someone invited to his editorial office to drink tea during the night shift, when supported each other, shared links to each other. You won't find anything like this anywhere in the region.
- It really was amazing. For me too. It's unusual. But here everything is explained by a topic that worried all the townspeople - this was also shown by the VTsIOM poll. And for the media, the interests of the city and the citizens turned out to be higher than their internal issues - so everyone rushed to support.
Is the square near the Drama Theater really so important for the townspeople that it was worth protecting it from development? Visually, it does not look like some unusual place where social life is in full swing.
- It's like a thing you appreciate when you lose it. You don't notice many things in your life, and then, when they take it away from you, you start thinking: "How difficult it is to live without it!" It is the same with the square - before this situation, it did not have any sacred meaning. There people rested, had picnics on rugs, with books. It's just that no one thought: well, here is a square and a square - people spend time there, walk, with strollers. But when they began to take him away, everyone stood up: "Wow! So we have a square that we love so much!" People said: "This is our square, we love it, damn it, we'll give it to you." And now there are even more people there, because all this has a History: they come not just to relax, but "to the very square.
Interview: Aleksandr Zhirov
Photo: from the project "Transformation 32"
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