Foreign Policy Blogs

For the New York Times, Russian Poverty Is News NOT Fit to Print

Not to be outdone by yesterday's tennis ‘interviews’ in the Daily Telegraph, this Sunday's New York Times front page photo made sure no-one skipped straight to the magazine section:


“Free and Flush, Russians Eager to Roam Abroad”, the headline beamed, in case anyone might also be interested in reading the accompanying article, which happened to be about the new-found prosperity of ordinary Russians. Here are a few interesting titd -bits from the piece:

“The number of Russian tourists visiting countries outside the former Soviet Union grew to 7.1 million in 2006, the last year statistics were available, from 2.6 million in 1995, according to the Russian government.

…[Increased] foreign travel reflects not just Russia's economic revival under Vladimir V. Putin, but also how the country has become, in some essential ways, normal.

Many Russians interviewed here credited Mr. Putin, the former president and current prime minister, for their ability to travel, saying that he was responsible for Russia's new prosperity.
If you have some time and a little money, you can travel. Just like everyone else in the world.

"It is now so easy ‚ buy a package tour for $800, and here we are, in paradise," said Ms. Kasyanova…”

Crickey! With all this globetrotting, is there like, anyone even left in Russia? Well, the New York Times certainly couldn't care less.

But scholar and Russia blogger Sean Guillory has bothered to track down a few of these non-travelling losers, pickling peppers in Voronezh instead of packing La Scala.

21.7 million losers, to be precise. Yep, that's the number of Russians living below the Federal subsistence (read: starvation) threshold of $95 dollars a month.

So here's a little lesson in newsworthiness for the New York Times, next time it wants to devote a front page spread to a social phenomenon gripping Russia:


But then, how on Earth would you work a good bikini shot into such a story?




Vadim Nikitin

Vadim Nikitin was born in Murmansk, Russia and grew up there and in Britain. He graduated from Harvard University with a thesis on American democracy promotion in Russia. Vadim's articles about Russia have appeared in The Nation, Dissent Magazine, and The Moscow Times. He is currently researching a comparative study of post-Soviet and post-Apartheid nostalgia.
Areas of Focus:
USSR; US-Russia Relations; Culture and Society; Media; Civil Society; Politics; Espionage; Oligarchs