Monday, August 22, 2011

Journalism in Russia

Susan Richards, an English journalist and author of Lost and Found in Russia: Lives in a Post-Soviet Landscape, spent sixteen years traveling throughout Russia after the collapse of communism.

Her travels were dangerous, and her writing, once it was published, could bring danger to the people who had shared their lives with her.  Richards explains in the conclusion of her book:

The world recession, triggered in the West, was going to hit long-suffering Russians.  And the harder it hit them, the more Moscow's war party were likely to beat the nationalist drum and seek out confrontation with the West as a distraction.  "We can't afford to look ahead," Tatiana was saying over breakfast.  "All we can do is live in a continual present, manage each day as it comes."

This was the political backdrop against which my book was going to come out.  My intimate account of the last sixteen years of their lives was going to appear in English in the West.  How would that play out for them, living here?  There were times, much earlier on when I believed that it might offer them protection.  Not anymore.  Ghosts from Russia's Soviet past were giving me a hard time (319).

While our work with journalism at Mount Angel Seminary does not carry the kinds of risks Richards describes, her work can remind us that we are always working within the larger context of a particular organization, country, and point in history.  We not only record that history; we are also taking part in it through our work.  We can also remember to pray for those whose journalism and dedication to its ideals takes them into dangerous places around the world.

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