The year 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of innovation-driven growth at RIA Novosti. In 2012, the RIA Novosti News Agency evolved into a group of media companies comprising five independent but closely related multimedia-based mass media, a publishing house, a network of press centers across Russia and abroad, and 47 popular Internet resources in 14 languages. The RIA Novosti News Agency is the core asset of the RIA Group.
By 2012, the RIA Group was operating in seven formats (photo, video, audio, text, infographics, infoscreen and 3D-images), producing news content on seven platforms (websites, newspapers, infoscreens, mobile TV, social networks, as well as tablet and mobile device applications based on seven different operating systems: iOs, Android, Symbian, WP7, Bada, MeeGo and Blackberry).
RIA Novosti has become the undisputed leader in news output, with about 5,000 news items produced in various formats for various platforms on a daily basis, including about 2,000 text messages. RIA Novosti boasts the largest photography department among the Russian media, publishing up to 600 photographs a day.
The International Olympic Committee assigned RIA Novosti the status of national host news agency and national photo pool for the XXII Winter Olympic Games to be held in Sochi in 2014. A team of about 240 journalists, photographers and other media specialists from RIA Novosti will be working at the Sochi Olympic Games.
The combined audience for all RIA Novosti’s Internet resources increased by 1.5 million people in 2012. The overall audience of the Group’s Internet resources has reached 20 million visitors per month. According to TNS Russia, the audience for RIA Novosti Group’s Internet news websites in December 2012 equalled one quarter of all Internet users in Russia. The flagship news website ria.ru averages more than 55 million visits per month. The ria.ru audience is growing almost twice as fast as Internet-based news overall. This category grew by 9 percent in 2012, whereas the ria.ru audience grew by almost 17 percent during the same period. By comparison, according to ComScore, the online audience of the major German daily Bild stands at 9 million worldwide and 8.4 million in Germany; the French daily Le Figaro 9.7 million in the world and 7.2 million in France; the BBC 58.8 million worldwide and 17.1 million in the UK; The New York Times 42.6 million in the world and 27.6 million in the USA and the US TV station CNN 65 million visits in the word and 43.8 million in the United States of America.
RIA Novosti’s social networks audience totaled over 3 million users in December 2012, more than any other Russian media outlet. RIA Novosti operates in social networks through 120 channels. On average, about 10 percent of RIA Novosti website visitors come from social networks, and for some Internet resources that figure is 15 percent. About 10 percent of visitors use mobile devices to access RIA’s main site ria.ru. RIA Novosti media experts predict a rapid rise in the number of such visitors in 2013.
RIA Novosti’s International Multimedia Press Center (IMPC) is the undisputed leader in terms of the number of press events held in Europe. Up to 15 events, including multimedia video conferences, talk shows, roundtable discussions and briefings take place at the IMPC on a daily basis. RIA Novosti hosts more than 50 percent of the press events held in Moscow.
In 2012, the RIA Novosti Group developed a unique, recognizable information style.
By developing an updated and expanded line of products and services, RIA Novosti increased its revenues by 50 percent on the previous year.
The flagship innovative news website ria.ru with advanced features such as geolocation, geotargeting and social networks integration was launched in late 2012. The RIA Novosti Group and A3 have launched a modern online payment service on the RIA.RU website. The service will allow customers to make online payments for utilities, childcare, Internet, cable television and mobile phone services in major Russian cities, as well as to monitor and pay traffic fines.
The Moscow News, Russia’s oldest English language newspaper, became the most popular English language paper on the Moscow market in 2012 according to TNS Russia company data. The paper’s readership rose 40 percent to 62,000. By comparison, the readership of another English-language paper, The Moscow Times, was 38,500.
Another important event in 2012 was the relaunch of Moskovsky Novosti as a multiplatform media. Now, all Moscow news is gathered in a single newsroom, combining the Moskovsky Novosti editorial office, and In Moscow and In Moscow Area information-news projects. Over 120 people publish Moskovsky Novosti in print format, on the mn.ru site, on social networks, and for PDA. Moscow regional news can also be read with the help of iPad-apps.
In 2012, the RIA Novosti Group created the MediaLAB media laboratory to study human relations in cyberspace and their impact on the use of information products, and to develop new types of media technology and platforms.
With the support of the Russian Venture Company, MediaLAB launched the Futureview semantic and search project to predict the future and identify temporal links between various professional spheres and industries up to the year 2100.
RIA Novosti held the Bloggers’ Non-forum and opened the Bloggers’ Club, where bloggers can download free RIA multimedia content for use in their postings.
RIA Novosti pioneered the use of 360-degree video and photo shooting to provide panoramic views of major events. Users can manipulate images using their PCs or mobile devices.
RIA Novosti has introduced a new live broadcasting format using a speech analyzer. The pilot run showed that audience interest in this format was high. Over 240,000 viewers tuned in to watch the broadcast of Vladimir Putin’s news conference with the speech analyzer on December 20, 2012.
“The RIA team is built around executives such as Maxim Filimonov, Nikolai Biryukov, Leonid Burmistrov, Valery Levchenko, Dmitry Tugarin, Alexander Bogomolov, Rostislav Vylegzhanin, Andrei Sikorsky, Sergei Volokitin, Vladimir Gurevich, Svetlana Babayeva, Ilya Lazarev, Dmitry Gruzdev, Nabi Abdullaev, Oleg Osipov, Irina Kedrovskaya, Vasily Konov, Anatoly Stoyanovsky, Olga Koleva, Pavel Shorokh, Oleg Shchedrov, Galina Kozhina, Daria Penchilova, Evgeniya Solodova, Ilya Ruderman and Svetlana Mironyuk, as well as many other young people who are setting the pace in strategic RIA areas,” said Yelena Chepurnykh, Deputy Director General of RIA Novosti in charge of HR.
For the first time this year, nine of RIA Novosti’s top managers made it onto the list of top Russian executives. RIA Novosti Group’s Editor-in-Chief Svetlana Mironyuk won the PRESSzvanie international business journalism contest in the “The Respect of Colleagues” category. Timur Rudnikov, Director of the Moskovskiye Novosti Publishing House, received the Russian Media Manager 2012 national award.
In 2012, the Group’s journalists and projects received more awards than any other Russian media. RIA Novosti employees received over 70 awards, prizes and certificates of merit in that year.
RIA Global and RIA Local
In 2012, RIA Novosti Group initiated the RIA Global and RIA Local projects, designed to increase the agency’s coverage both in the foreign-language information space and the Russian regions.
RIA Novosti’s first foreign-based information hub opened in Dubai last spring, staffed by Arabic-speaking journalists. The Washington, D.C. hub opened in the fall. The main achievement in 2012 in the international news service was the transition from the translation of Russian news for foreign language websites to producing original materials in foreign languages adapted to various audiences around the world.
“Total audiences for the seven foreign-language websites run by the RIA Novosti Group (English, German, Spanish, French, Arabic, Persian and two Chinese) grew by 20 percent,” Head of RIA Novosti’s Foreign Language News Production Nabi Abdullaev said.
International foreign policy information. “In 2012, we made the transition to a new format for international news coverage for the Russian audience. We began to experiment with short texts that provide concise information. However, we still have longer texts with illustrations and other multimedia accesories for the readers of our flagship website, and select the topics and delivery techniques. We see that the audience is becoming increasingly interested in current international events. A news article covering an international event can get anywhere 20,000 to 150,000 hits in a day” Deputy Head of Integrated News Production Andrei Nizamutdinov said.
RIA Local. “In 2012, RIA Novosti began to create a full-blown time zone-based broadcast system where our audiences in different Russian cities will have access primarily to local news produced by RIA Novosti employees or partners on site,” Deputy Head of Integrated News Production Alexander Kupriyanov said.
In 2012, we continued to build RIA Novosti’s regional infrastructure, opening city websites in Tomsk and St. Petersburg. In 2013, we will open major local news information centers in Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Tomsk, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg.
“RIA Novosti’s flagship website has changed direction and become an innovative online mass-media. The fundamental feature of the current version is that it enables registered users to create their own picture of the day,” Director for Internet and Multimedia Products Irina Kedrovskaya said. “In fact, the website visitors can get information through various channels – as an option this may be the editor’s choice or home region news or a customized news wire which may be set up in the RIA Club personal profile”. Other interactive possibilities are also on offer to registered users – commentaries, with “like” and “dislike” buttons to select the material.
Focus on Multimedia
Three major RIA Novosti Group news resources were relaunched in 2012:
Over 10 major online projects have been implemented, including socially important, educational, sports, historical and video projects.
“All our websites are using new platforms. They have been configured to be able to create an interactive space linking a particular website to the user, to the social network and back to the website," Kedrovskaya explained. “The www.ria.ru website provides a comprehensive information picture of the day, including an editor's choice and topics that may be of interest to users of social networks. Our readers can choose topics of interest to them. We are constantly evolving: the work of our website team is all about experimenting. In the near future, we will be introducing innovative solutions regarding the coverage of high-profile multimedia stories.”
Multimedia format articles and stories also have a new incarnation. Each article can be presented in several formats, Kedrovskaya said. “For example, in storytelling regime (which can be explained as relating a story) there is a description of some event along with RIA materials and resources, profiles on social networks, videoclips and so on. Each theme can be presented in timeline regime – this is a chronicle of events in which it is possible to draw in and see all materials on a set day, week or month.
24/7 Presence in Social Networks
By late 2012, the RIA Novosti Group had opened more than 120 social network channels, most of which are updated around the clock. Their total audience has reached three million people. RIA Novosti has information and news projects on Facebook, VKontakte, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest and Odnoklassniki (the Russian version of Classmates), among others. In March 2012, RIA Novosti received the Grand Prix in the Runet Blog contest for promoting social media.
Experimenting With Video. Last year, RIA Novosti tried its hand at
- talk shows;
- integrated video broadcasts, including speech analysis;
- 360-degree photo shooting;
- interactive video.
“Over the last six months we've launched three new video programs designed for different audiences. They are: Multnews for younger audiences, People's News in Chastushkas catering to our regional readers and viewers, and interactive web videos which can deliver long stories in compact form. RIA Novosti’s new video formats are proving very popular. For example, an interactive online video averages 30,000 views, with some videos boasting as many as half a million views,” said Head of RIA Novosti’s Video Department Irina Savchenko.
RIA Novosti’s Photo Desk is the largest in Russia and employs 38 full-time photo correspondents and 200 freelance correspondents in almost every Russian region. All RIA Novosti’s foreign correspondents in 49 countries receive advanced training in multimedia photo and video skills and produce professional-quality photographs for RIA Novosti.
“The skills of our photographers and our capabilities allow RIA Novosti photo correspondents to experiment in different genres of photography. Their photos feature in the new annual photo album "Interpretations 2013," featuring over 300 of the best photographs taken by 30 RIA Novosti photographers in different parts of the world in 2012,” said RIA Novosti’s Photo Director Anna Shpakova.
Eighteen of RIA Novosti’s photo correspondents were recognized for their work in 2012, winning awards in contests such as the Best of Russia, the international journalist competition Gold Quill, Silver Camera, the European photo contest EISA Maestro, the China International Press Photo Photographic Competition (CHIPP), the Photovisa IV International Festival of Photography and others. The winners included RIA Novosti’s Vladimir Vyatkin, Vladimir Fedorenko, Igor Zarembo, Andrei Stenin, Ruslan Krivobok, Alexei Kudenko, Sergei Guneyev, Artyom Zhitenev, Ilya Pitalyov, Ramil Sitdikov, Said Tsarnaev, Valery Melnikov, Alexander Utkin, Sergei Pyatakov and Alexander Kryazhev.
In 2012, RIA Novosti’s photography team began the final stage of preparation for covering the Olympic Games in Sochi, after the IOC conferred upon RIA Novosti the status of national host agency and national photo pool for the 2014 Winter Olympics. A series of pictures titled “The Olympic Games in London as Seen by RIA Novosti’s Photographers” won a national competition in Russia.
Experimenting with New Media Trends
“The world where a newspaper could be published without undergoing any changes for decades on end is history. Just like society, the media has entered a period of constant change. If you don’t try out new channels or forms of communication, new tones, new ideas and new audiences, you will sooner or later become obsolete. That is why RIA Novosti is constantly seeking new ways of providing information to its audiences. In 2012, we experimented with a variety of projects, ranging from historical to political and social,” Svetlana Mironyuk says.
In 2012, RIA Novosti successfully implemented a number of socially important educational projects. One of them was the Open Teachers' Council on modern education, featuring the weekly talk show “School.LIVE”.
Russia and the world marked a series of important historical dates in 2012, including the 200th anniversary of the Patriotic War of 1812 and the centenary of the sinking of the liner Titanic. RIA Novosti launched special projects to commemorate the anniversaries 1812: War and Peace and the Titanic.
Art and Infographics at RIA
”RIA Novosti’s style gained recognition on the domestic and foreign media markets in 2012,” said RIA Novosti’s Art Director Ilya Ruderman.
Last year, we launched a series of interesting projects that became important milestones for RIA Novosti’s designers. They include the special R-Sport Timeline of the Olympic Games in London project, a new design for RIA Novosti’s website, as well as the common style design for all RIA Novosti mobile applications. Major results have been achieved in creating graphics for offline projects, such as the Bloggers’ Non-forum.
“RIA Novosti has been involved in news visualization since 2007. Since late 2011, we have been successfully focusing not only on increasing our speed of delivery, but also on the quality of our graphic work. The infographics studio won many international awards in 2012,” says Head of the Infographics Studio at RIA Novosti’s Design Center Pavel Shorokh.
In 2012, 29 of the studio’s projects were recognized at international contests, such as Best of Digital News Design, the Information Is Beautiful Awards, the prestigious European Design Awards, the Malofeij 20 contest and others. Various projects received recognition, ranging from current news (such as the collapse of the Kolskaya drilling rig) to interactive infographics projects, such as The Main Types of Parking Facilities, a Virtual Tour of the Bolshoi Theater, How the Human Race is Growing, an Interactive Globe of the Moon, What Hides behind the Iron Curtain in North Korea, Fobos-Grunt, Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and others.
New Formats of RIA Novosti’s International Multimedia Press Center
Over 1,600 news events were held at RIA Novosti’s Multimedia Press Center in 2012.
“Our press center is multifunctional. It has regular conference rooms and conference rooms for press events that use modern presentation techniques. We design and hold multimedia news conferences where newsmakers use video and photo materials involving elements of directing, and we also organize video conferences,” said Head of RIA Novosti’s International Multimedia Press Center Olga Koleva.
Projects from the Documentary Film Center DOC, RIA-Art and LectoRIA are regular events at the press center.
The Documentary Film Center DOC shows interesting documentary films that are relevant to our times. After each viewing, the audience discusses the movies with film directors, experts, and social, political and cultural figures.
RIA-Art is an experimental format that combines news conferences by film and theater directors, as well as artists and photographers, with public viewings of their works, creative discussions and club nights.
LectoRIA is a multimedia presentation by newsmakers on a wide range of topics, including politics, economy, science, sports, art, history and modern studies.
RIA Novosti’s Media Forums: Offline Projects
RIA Novosti consolidated its position in 2012 as the leading Russian professional platform for discussing current issues related to promoting the media industry in Russia and internationally. The European and Asian media forum in Minsk, the sports journalists’ forum in Sochi, the Future Media Forum and the Bloggers’ Non-forum are the main events which RIA Novosti organized for different media communities.
“A news agency as big as RIA Novosti cannot limit itself to online, paper-based or even broadcasting formats. That’s why the agency holds its own media forums to establish direct contact between those who create content, new concepts and products and those who consume these products. Education and forecasting are the main goals of these meetings: we invite experts and discuss the future of the media with them,” says media expert Vasily Gatov.
“Our media forums in 2012 were attended by about 2,000 media representatives from around the world. Journalists, analysts, social scientists, marketing experts, bloggers and media analysts discussed the current issues facing the single media space and its prospects,“ says Executive Director of RIA Novosti’s Research Center Yelena Slinko.
RIA’s Analytical Unit
The year 2012 was an important one for the development of the analytical resources of the RIA Novosti Group, which makes it possible not only to capture the main socioeconomic processes in modern Russian society, but also to set information trends that affect such processes.
“We managed to form a professional team of analysts and experts in the social and economic sphere at RIA Novosti, which is a popular Russian media outlet. Based on the best international practices and standards and seeking to form a consumer culture for interpreting analytical data, they provide our readers with high-quality and unbiased information that allows them to make reasoned choices about education and healthcare institutions, and services in the area of social security, and so on,” said Head of the Social Navigator project Irina Yasina.
Social Navigator is the only multimedia information resource of its kind in Russia designed specifically for consumers of social services. Today, it is represented by ratings and navigators in the area of education, healthcare and urban environment.
The RIA Rating Agency opened for business in 2012. It launched a website, assigned the first credit ratings and implemented a series of analytical projects, including an environmental and economic index of the Russian Regions titled “An Ecological Map of Russia,” and a rating of Russian regions in terms of standards of quality of life.
The range of RIA special projects is expanding. They include a rating of the new cabinet ministers, a special project entitled “There’s a Choice” on the 2012 election campaign, the “Russia for All” website in seven languages of the peoples of Russia and the CIS, “Education for Energy Conservation”, “Duma Configurator” and a “Budget Calculator”, which people can use to see what their income taxes are paying for.
Training and Key Performance Indicators: a Recipe for Success
Last year, over 1,000 employees, including about 400 print journalists, were trained at RIA Novosti’s Corporate Training Centre.
“The underlying principle of training at RIA Novosti is that staff should be constantly learn and improve their skills. The teaching process is structured in such a way that each RIA employee attends different courses during the year,” says RIA Novosti’s Executive Director Oleg Shchedrov. In addition, training at RIA also includes working with instructors in sports clubs, learning foreign languages, painting, dancing, music, photography, etc.
Professional training in RIA is conducted by RIA Novosti’s own tutors and guest foreign media experts.
RIA Novosti employees conduct their own training seminars, workshops and master classes. More than 450 employees from regional newspapers and press secretaries from ministries and departments received training at RIA Novosti in 2012. The Sports Journalists Forum was held twice in Sochi in 2012, where RIA lecturers shared their expertise with the audience.
In 2012, RIA Novosti began the transition to KPIs, not only for the companies that are part of the Group, but for individual departments and employees as well.
“The thing about Key Performance Indicators (KPI) is that every employee understands how their performance is evaluated. This is a breakthrough event for the Russian media market, because media companies in Russia have never operated on such a principle, since creative work is difficult to describe in simple and quantifiable terms allowing an unbiased assessment of its level of effectiveness to be made. We have identified pioneering solutions and begun introducing KPI for creative staff and will continue doing so in 2013,” said Deputy Editor-in-Chief of RIA Novosti Igor Selivanov.
Media Holding Company’s Social Responsibility
RIA Novosti has been creating new projects and organizing various social and charitable events over the course of many years.
“I believe it’s only natural for a large modern company to grow not only as a business entity, but also as a socially responsible company. People here take other people’s problems close to heart. We are ready to help. Sometimes, all you need to do is to create the right conditions and provide an opportunity,” Mironyuk says.
The Diagnosis That Isn’t There is a major project on autism, which RIA Novosti launched in 2012. During 2012, RIA Novosti was the venue for numerous seminars, lectures, workshops, discussions and meetings with internationally recognized experts, parents and other passionate people. RIA Novosti used multiple formats to cover autism in children and adults on its website.
Volunteering is all about RIA Novosti employees helping senior citizens who live in nursing homes in the villages of Porechye-Rybnoye and Voshchazhnikovo in the Yaroslavl Region. RIA Novosti employees regularly visit them, bringing gifts, good company and an opportunity to have a chat.
RIA Team has 10 employees with disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, autism and other disorders. In 2012, seven young men with disabilities from Voronezh joined the RIA team. They are working from home using remote access to edit comments and answer questions posed by ria.ru visitors.
The International Russian-Swedish Charity project involving the nonprofit organization Tretiak Bornhemsutbute has been coordinated by RIA Novosti for over 17 years now. Under this program, RIA Novosti organizes trips to Sweden during the summer and winter holidays for over 200 children from children’s homes in Moscow, the Nizhny Novgorod Region, the Tula Region, the Republic of Chuvashia and city of Saratov. Russian children visit Swedish families to learn about the national and cultural traditions of Sweden and visit museums, theaters and historical sites.
Mediasubbotnik, Mediadancing and Mediaspartakiada are regularly held by RIA Novosti at its premises. About 150-200 journalists from other media outlets are invited to meet their colleagues and socialize in an informal setting.
RIA Novosti employees say 4 Zubovsky Boulevard is more than just a place of work for them, but also a cozy home. Many people have made new friends here. Parents working at RIA Novosti bring their children here for different classes, clubs and study groups.