Click-bait. Fake news. Sensationalism.
Online media is rife with problems, and, as a result, it largely gets Russia wrong, painting a uni-dimensional picture of corruption, mafia and dark arts that misrepresents the world’s largest country.
It’s sad, very sad. And dangerous.
We want to tackle this problem head on and we are uniquely positioned to do so.
For 23 years, we have been publishing Russian Life, the only truly independent, English language magazine on the world’s largest country.
While the mainstream media talks only of Russia’s mafia and matryoshkas, of Vladimir and vodka, we orient on Chekhov and centenarians, on language and literature, history and geography.
The nightly news likes cardboard-cutout, cartoonish views of Russia. We prefer a more nuanced, subtle approach that looks at the complexity of the place, at the unique, compelling stories it has to tell.
Does Russia have problems and flaws? Of course it does. Just like any other country or culture. And we don’t gloss over them. But instead of making them the be all and end all of our coverage, we put such issues into perspective, painting a multi-faceted portrait of this thousand-year-old land.
We want to bring this same perspective and approach to the online media space.
Our goal is to extend Russian Life’s publishing footprint, to make it the most interesting, authoritative online outlet on all things Russian.
That is what this Kickstarter is all about.
So what are we going to do?
- First, we will completely revamp our website and online presence to make it mobile-first and easy to access and read on any device.
- Second, we will rebuild our database systems to make subscribing and renewing online a seamless and painless experience, enabling various combinations of digital and print subscriptions.
- Third, we will put the entire 23 years of Russian Life online (available as part of a digital subscription). Thousands of articles will be at your fingertips for searching and retrieval.
- Fourth, we will do the same with the current and future content of the print magazine, making it available online and readable on any device (no app required!), while adding online-only enhancements to articles. And print subscribers will be able to have a print/digital subscription for a modest additional fee.
- Finally, we will supplement all of this with new, online-only content that uses the digital medium to its best effect. From videos and audio to travelogues, reviews, databases and interviews. We will also keep a close eye on the RuNet – the Russian-only internet – for you, regularly translating and sharing the most important and interesting information we find, just like we do with our popular weekly e-letter, The Weekly Russia File.
In the end, the depth and breadth of what we can achieve will depend on how successful this Kickstarter is and how popular the online site becomes.
But we think it is going to be huge. We think there is great pent-up demand for authentic, interesting, balanced information about Russia. And we want you to be a part of it.
Together, we can create the New Russian Life… one that builds on what we have learned over the last 23 years with the print magazine… one that creates a Russian Life for the next generation – bridging the print and digital divide.
What do you get out of this?
Aside from a newly-enhanced, digital Russian Life platform, you mean?
Well, by supporting this Kickstarter, you will essentially be pre-paying for a one-year online or print+online subscription, demonstrating to us and others that there is support to extend Russian Life in this new direction.
But you also will get some great, Kickstarter-only benefits.
Everyone who backs the project at the Diginaut or higher level will get an offset print (8x10 inches, full color) of the amazing original work of art, “Russian Seasons,” that Yekaterinburg artist Olga Ezova-Denisova is creating especially for this project. (More about Olga and this work in project updates to come.)
If you support the project at higher levels, you can also get one of the books we created in our previous Kickstarter projects.
At still higher levels you can get an original, numbered print of Olga’s artwork, and/or become an active advisor and participant in this new effort.
This is our dream: a dynamic, interesting publication that is as beautiful online as off, that bridges the digital-analog divide, letting readers choose how to receive Russian Life content, be it in through a mailbox by the side of the road, or via the internet superhighway (or both!). We are truly excited about this new development and I hope you will join us in taking Russian Life to the next level.
Risks and challenges
There are few specific risks related to this project beyond those of running a niche publishing business, which we have been doing for nearly 30 years.
We could see some delays in implementation if the data conversion and website rebuilding plans get hung up, but that is highly unlikely.
It is conceivable that the shipment of original art prints from Russia could take longer than anticipated.
We have set January 2019 as our delivery date, as sort of a worst case for when the new Digital Russian Life would roll out. Yet we fully expect it to be released much earlier. And we will be sending out the books and works of art in the fall.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (33 days)