Monday, February 21, 2011

Global Voices: Vadim Isakov

I had the privilege of having Vadim Isakov as a professor when he worked in the journalism department of Ithaca College. He left the college last year and now works for the United Nations, but he is also an editor for Global Voices Online. I recently interviewed him about GVO as an independent media source.

Ashley May: How did you become involved in Global Voices?

Vadim Isakov: I have been reading GVO for years. I always wanted to write for it but did not have an opportunity. A little bit more than a year ago, I saw an ad for a managing editor of a new project at GVO dedicated to Russian blogosphere. I applied and got the position.

AM: What makes Global Voices a unique, but essential part of independent media?

VI: It is truly a global community of bloggers. People from all over the world come together to write about online developments in their countries. Those bloggers can write about one event from the perspectives of many countries (like GVO posts about recent events in Egypt, for example). I cannot think of any online community that would resemble GVO in scale. And that is what makes GVO unique.

AM: What makes Global Voices a good source of news?

VI: The bloggers at GVO are people who live in their countries, speak at least two languages, know may people and actively participate in different aspects of life in their home countries. Those people are the best sources of information on what is going on in any particular country. When writing an article for GVO, people usually try to provide historical background to an event, they explain why this event is important and what it means for the future of the country. Many bloggers of GVO are not paid for what they do. People write because they are very passionate about the past, present and future of their homes.

AM: How would you like to see Global Voices improve?

VI: The GVO bloggers (like many bloggers in the world) are not journalists and they very often lack basic understanding of how an article should be written. I would like to see more GVO bloggers receiving some kind of training on how to write an interesting story. At the same time, GVO never positioned itself as a professional media outlet. It is a global community of passionate people.

AM: How do you think Global Voices attracts readers?

VI: GVO has many partner projects with different media outlets (NY Times, BBC, Guardian, Echo Moskvy (Russian radio)). GVO is very active on Twitter and Facebook. It constantly searches for new ways to promote its stories. When news happens, the GVO authors are among the first to report on it. The GVO Web site is constantly updated and the articles are written so they are easy to find via any search engine.

AM: What would you like students to know about Global Voices functioning as a form of independent media?

VI: The GVO created a community where the terms "independent" and "global" unite to create a unique online platform. It is not perfect but it tries to provide a coverage for stories that one cannot find in traditional media. It is good that some media outlets realize the need for GVO (like GVO feed on NY Times: and its extensive coverage of different topics.

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