In the middle of October in Latvia launched a new Russian-language news media called Meduza. The project, which will combine and aggregate their own content, creates a number of former employees "Lenta.ru" under the leadership of former chief editor Galina Timchenko, a former head of department of special correspondent Ivan Kolpakov and join them Elijah Dyer (former director of product "Posters"). The creators of Forbes told Meduza, than their edition will be different from other media, why revision moved to Riga and how the project came out of investors Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Boris Zimin.
- How did you get the idea of the project?
Ivan Kolpakov: Soon after Galya was fired from "Lenta", we gathered a small group in her home - to once again embrace and cry. At the same time it was found out that, it turns out, there are a number of people willing to give money for a new project. And that, it seems, we have a very small, but still a chance to make this new project.
Galina Timchenko: About a month later we saw in the post facebook Elijah Dyer, kotoing as if talked about our project. He wrote: "I came up with the media, it should not be in Russia, financed by several people, but to me there is nobody to do."
Ilya Dyer: About the former version of the plan, "Lenta.ru" me at the time, nothing was known. It was the signal in space without much hope for a response. But Kolpakova call came in about 15 minutes.
- What will it be for the media?
Caps: The project is called Meduza. It's not every day a large edition of about everything, not a huge site the size of a "Lentu.ru". The project has a mantra: "information living wage." This edition is that you really need to know. Very dense pattern of the last hours, collected from the most important news and the best texts in Russian.
At some point we sat and pondered what could be the engine of the new project. And then Galya said, "Remember how foolish people are always referred to as" tape "? They said that "Lenta" - aggregator. And let us really do aggregator ".
It is a deliberate decision. Traditional media, atrativshim monopoly on the production of information, added hundreds of thousands of alternative media. It produces an abundance of "white noise" that is magnified in the information war. And this noise is not audible voices that have - this small publication, and NGOs, and bloggers.
We plan to aggregate content from a variety of sources, regardless of their status, but depending on the relevance and reliability of the information. Meduza will give neraskruchennyh sites access to a wide audience and a wider audience - just what is really worth reading.
Timchenko: The information we select without mechanical or robotic algorithms - themselves, hands and head editors. Pick up materials we are going to be honest - a quote from a source box with a hyperlink, no polnoteksta.
We have a platform on which other people and their own materials exist on equal terms, the main thing - to have evolved an adequate picture of the events.
It is our choice, our expertise, for which we are ready to bear the responsibility before the reader.Basically, this means that we have to other Russian-language media did not treat as competitors - on the contrary, we try to benefit them. From them to us - the fragments to the picture of events, from us to them - traffic.
Kolpakov: I repeat, this is important: we will own materials. And a number of new formats, and high-quality reporter's journalism. Why do we need your content? Then that, firstly, the Russian reporter's journalism as a whole is going through hard times. In these circumstances, it would be especially sorry to lose a team of reporters that we have. Secondly, there is a long list of taboo subjects that Russian media did not work out for various reasons - because of the line and curve of censorship. Thus, in the information picture arises hole - well, here we are, and we will fill it.
Timchenko: We will act flexibly. The more high-quality source, the more aggregate the. If all of a sudden it turned out that other media will write less, and stop-lists will be even longer, we will be expanding in the direction of their own content.
- Why is thatsome name? And if you do not have it too serious for the news media seems?
Timchenko: Yes, why not serious? Even gloomy, it is for the pirate ship. By the way, we came up with his former colleague Igor Belkin.
- You will be a "Yandex. News "to negotiate with media cooperation?
Caps: We will negotiate with the media, with NGOs, will talk directly with private producers of information. But not as a "Yandex".
Because Meduza - it is handmade, not pre-assembled.
Dyer: Our way of citing other publications, in principle, it does not violate anyone's rights, so this is a formality, but we for the sake of propriety all agree.
Caps: Again, we're ready for some unexpected solutions. If, for example, in some blog or publication, is locked in the territory of the Russian Federation, released the text of an important, and we believe that it does not conflict with the Russian legislation and ethics of journalism, we are happy to agree directly with this blog or the publication of the complete reprint of material.
- As in this case you are collectingSmiling avoid blocking on the territory of Russia? You can think of one, but Roskomnadzor deems otherwise.
Dyer: Formally, we are the European media and obey the laws of the Republic of Latvia, which recorded. It is clear that Roskomnadzor is of little concern.
And we understand that we are conducting with the game pretty strong and unpredictable opponent. But at every turn there protivohod. We have a mass of technological ideas in case we or the site that we quote, will make a stop list. Talk about them of course we will not. Do mirror site, by the way, the most stupid and inconvenient way. At the same time we do not have problems to be fighters against someone or something (as opposed to the sites, which are now in the stop-list). We are not fighters, we just give a reliable picture of what is happening.
And another important point, which we have not yet been told. We are not only a site. We and a mobile application. And I Applications lock - so far - not experienced.
Kolpakov: For the first time we are coming up edition, did not start from the site, and on the application. In a device site is its logic. ECand lead a very crude example, it's like Instagram on the web. At the same time the site in no way inferior to the application - there will be the same functional and complete content. In general, in the emergency perspective, we expect to give access to the project from any of iron, able to go online. Now we run simultaneously on three platforms - iPhone, Android and the Web.
Dyer: In short, we will broadcast from the kettle.
- You do not have the feeling here that you deliberately narrow the audience so that broadcast only on the "Russian iPhone"?
Dyer: It is not true, we will immediately broadcast "android Russia" for!
Kolpakov: And then on «Windows Phone Russia".
the mobile Internet market is growing at explosive rates, including in Russia. According to the "Loop" it was very noticeable. In early 2013 the site from mobile devices went only 8% of the readers, and in early 2014 there were almost 30%. The market is growing, but there was nothing going on - you can not be considered a real event any regular mobile application from Sports.ru. Those who in the late nineties have relied on a strategy digital first, in five to tenIt is the leader of the industry. And we are confident that those who now relies on mobile first strategy will result in the first on the market.
Dyer: It is also an important part of our economic model. Yes, as long as a mobile advertising is not much, but it can not make - it was too imposing increasing mobile usage. In addition, mobile applications, as opposed to the web, users are able to directly monetize.
- The app will be free?
Dyer: Yes. And we will never paywall. We have a mission - to give Russian readers an objective picture of what is happening. Doing this for the money it would be strange.
- And what of the new formats?
Caps: One of the formats have come up in "Lenta", but did not have time to implement. format Author, Belkin already mentioned, called it "Translated into Russian." We call it "file cabinet". This material, which is prepared on an open source editor, but with a very meticulous faktchekingom and critical approach - journalist examines the bones very complicated story of the day. NapImer, "Minsk agreement": dozens of news agencies on the tapes, dozens of comments politicians and hundreds of posts on Facebook, with absolutely nothing is clear - who signed what commitments were made by the participating countries, in what time frame should fulfill them, that does this mean for the citizens of Ukraine, Russia and neighboring countries, can we fulfill them, finally. The idea is that the reader will not spend this hours of his life, self-understanding in a million posts - we will do it themselves, and very briefly and clearly laid out.
In general, this format has already appeared in many places, including on Vox.com - Vox when we saw the ofigeli.
Dyer: The worst thing in the launch - watch how your ideas appear in other projects. Therefore, we are in a hurry. Every two weeks of delay - a guarantee that your idea will flow away somewhere else. Everyone thinks in one direction.
This faster to launch the projects I've ever seen to be honest. For six months we run media on three platforms - and also in another country.
- Why did it would not be "to Lenta.ru"?Surely you have been suggestions, including from investors and revive what was that?
Timchenko Ivan Kolpakov once rightly said that for the "Ribbon" was a 15-year history, but over the years it has accumulated a lot of errors and defects, and drag it all into a new life did not want to. Then, "Ribbon" - a huge tree, which is very difficult to transplant to a new stage. We almost do not know where some wording could do the same in the new location, and just as well. Moreover, the "Ribbon" earning a lot and costly to attract that kind of money without a brand we have no chance.
Caps: We wanted to make the last edition, which can change every day. Any changes to the "Ribbon" took place with incredible difficulty - a giant ship that turns around very long. We now have a small craft, which will move in such a direction and at such a rate as it will require the circumstances.
- How can I write about Russia and to focus on the Russian audience, not being in Russia?
Caps: Now this is not a problem. Oleg Kashin, who moved to Geneva, once a well formulated: I did not emigrate, because I'm staying in the Russian media, read Russian newspapers and working on a Russian edition. If you do not know the circumstances of his life, never guess that he was in Geneva. A Riga even closer to Moscow than Geneva. And Russian live there for many centuries.
Revision in Latvia - a forced choice, which we go on a number of current, above all political, reasons. None of us has not dreamed about the imminent emigration.
Yet Riga edition - only the assemblage point. These are the people that influence daily, hourly edition of the project, it is reliably protected production - there can not come in and make a mask show. In Russia, we are special correspondents, a large group of freelancers, here, finally, are producers of information that we aggregate.
Timchenko: Moreover, none of us wants to do, "Bell". Just in Latvia all amazingly transparent, simple and very cheap. And in terms of the lease, and in terms of quality of life.
Dyer: Well voobie, move to Riga - this is not an end in itself. As the native of Perm, Ivan Kolpakov: "I want to look at Moscow's boys that of the 15 million city moved to the 800,000th." Not that we are about to move to Latvia some incredible enthusiasm.
- Why Latvia?
Dyer: We are first going to Berlin. But then, by process of elimination left Riga. The reasons for a bunch of taxes, immigration laws, prices, even the time zone - we are a news publication, operating according to Moscow time. It would be possible to go to Portugal, but then we would have a working day began at 6 am. So it's only logistics solution.
- You said that you do not fighters, but nevertheless for many people broadcasting from Latvia will give a dissident color throughout the project. Whether this is confusing?
Caps: We are fighters for one single idea - the idea of freedom of information.
Dyer: It costs internally. We are not dissidents, we just do not like to compromise in regard to our profession. And we prove itm. We have no illusions about Latvia - there is also a bunch of their own problems.
It just happened, that now can be done in an independent Latvia Russian edition and in Russia.
If we in Latvia will face some insurmountable difficulties, you will know about it first.
- Did the relocation to Latvia participation in the project Khodorkovsky?
Timchenko: We really have been negotiating with Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Boris Zimin. At the same time, Khodorkovsky acted as a passive investor, it practically does not interfere in the course of the negotiations, to his own contribution he had the minimum requirements - and they were all wearing character Corporate Business. The main investor is assumed to Zimin. But, unfortunately, the proposed governance principles, strategic and operational decisions have not arranged.
- They assumed the active intervention of investors?
Dyer: It is better to ask them. As for us, we just realized that we are going to manage a project is not so. In any case, we parted without mutual claims.
r /> - Who initiated the negotiations with Khodorkovsky and Zimin, they start and how to go? Why all escaped at the last moment?
Kolpakov: investors have appointed the first meeting itself.
Dyer: It was the usual negotiations - long and complex. It ripped off all the time, when it came to discuss the details of the shareholder agreement. It turned out that our positions are radically different.
Caps: Now we create a consortium of investors, which already has a number of people. The list is open, we hope to increase it.
It is important that we attract money on your own terms - we will offer investors a stake in the company but control of it will always be at the editorial office.
- You will not disclose the names of the investors?
Timchenko: Their names will not say anything to anyone. It is strictly non-public people who do not have nothing to do with the media or politics. And they do not very large contributions, which will last for some time.
- What do you look for them? If they are not related to the media why they are interested in this proet?
Dyer: Well were looking for? Through acquaintances. A project of interest to them for one simple reason: if in the country there will be no independent publication, better anyone from this will not be exact. So in us by our investors seem to believe.
- What is the agreement with them is ongoing fees?
Dyer: We are currently developing a shareholders' agreement - and it would be strange to reveal its details. We believe that to properly plan for the year ahead, no more, because we live in a very rapidly changing situation. And to borrow money for a longer time is not quite right.
- Do you promise investors a refund?
Dyer: Absolutely. We plan to reach payback in three years, but all investors warn of the serious risks of the country. Every year, we will adjust the forecast.
Caps: We try to do as honest people and do not ask for money as charity - just because we are good or because we are from the "Feeds".
- Galya, I guess, that part of your payment after firingof of the "tapes" also went into this project, right?
Timchenko: Almost all. That is money in the project edition too. We can say that indirectly Alexander Leonidovich Mamut 42 helped independent media.
- Do you think about crowdfunding?
Dyer: We came up with about 157 ways to make money, and all of them will gradually introduce: including advertising and in-app purchases, and crowdfunding.
We are accustomed to working in the media, which pays for itself, and we want this project, despite the dire economic and political conditions, was the same.
Timchenko: That's why we have a very sporty and very compact budget revision. All are able to all, all a lot of different powers.
- What is the approximate annual budget?
Timchenko: We do not want to name any specific figures, but, so to speak: the closest to the assessment of our budget was Anton B. Spout in its comments the newspaper "Izvestia" (The nose has estimated that the annual budget of the project will be at least $ 1 million - Forbes).
- GalI was in one of the old interviews you said that you are going to act in a new project on the sidelines. That is, you will not be the chief editor of "Medusa"?
Timchenko: I do not know. According to our rules, the chief of the "Medusa" Editor elects revision every two years. So far, I like it sounds in the Latvian legislation, Member of the Board and CEO of the company.
Dyer: We hired Galey, surely we can for someone else to choose?
Timchenko: Here no one boss. All will be one role - to stand in the furnace of a steam locomotive. We, and I, too, will perform for the first time the role of the ordinary editors. The "Lenta" we are also a lot of times it passed through.
- How many people will be in the wording?
Kolpakov: a little more than 10 people in Riga as amended (with the exception of development), and not all of them former employees of "Lenta". It is a fresh team. Moscow remains a special correspondent and commercial service. But people who live in Moscow, will periodically come to Riga and vice versa.
- What is the requirement of the Latvian legislation, which obliged you againPlace ads on the recruitment of local sites?
Timchenko: This is the standard scheme of the world. Before you hire people from another country (and in the new team will be people not only from Russia), I am obliged to the site of the state of employment in Latvia to advertise in the Latvian language. We have to prove that there are no people who can apply for these positions. As a result, I received more than 150 letters, honestly answer them distributed tests, conducted dozens of interviews. Two weeks stayed in one Riga cafes, talking to people - like Alain Vladimir.
It was very interesting to see the Latvian journalists, but it was among all the candidates, maybe four, I would take the job. Mainly Russian-speaking Latvians do not know our agenda.
- How will you involve the audience? As far as you expect, you will help the reputation of the former "Tapes"?
Caps: We do not build "tape" - and in the classroom sense, too. Mass publication that three million people visit every day, is not done in one, two,When the year. "Lenta" it took almost 15 years. Buy traffic we're not going to marketing we have no money. Therefore, we rely solely on their reputation - and a product that will show.
- What audience do you expect next year?
Dyer: We have quite a pessimistic development plan, but if we just execute, we will not be very pleased with yourself - we need to exceed it.
Put it this way: if one year we will not discuss everything - it means that we have failed.
- Do not you have fear that mediapolyana so quickly shrinks, that soon you will have only two or three high-quality source, from which you can borrow materials for aggregation?
Caps: There are many different fears. Including this - that nothing will be aggregated. And the other - and suddenly all would be too much? But we came up with a project that is very easy to adapt to the conditions, even quite extreme. All of the media market is now a truly major installation - to survive, to endure. And what I like our idea - we help Suneat. Now you can not only save yourself.
Timchenko: That is, maybe we find ourselves and the raft of "Medusa", which saved the rest. If possible.