The Russian language site BBCRussian.com and Izvestia recently launched a journalism competition open to students living in Russia. Contenders are asked to write a 500-word essay in Russian on the topic of “The social responsibility of the mass media before society and the freedom of information at times of national and international crisis.” First prize is a month’s expenses-paid work experience at the BBC in London. The Leader spoke to Leonid Osokin, the editor of BBCRussian.com, to find out more about this exciting opportunity.
What will students get to do on the work experience?
Our aim is to make this more than just work experience, and help the winner to get a real feel for what BBC journalism is about and what it is like to work for a dynamic international news organization. The person who comes first place will be expected to work as part of the Online team writing articles, learning about the BBC style and editorial principles, editing text within the limits of their experience and editing images. They can also spend some time with our radio operation— although the main aim is to give them some knowledge and experience of working for an online news provider. All this will happen in our offices in London.
What kind of style should the essays be written in?
The students will be free to choose their own style for their essays. We shall be looking for original ideas, good journalistic style, good analysis of Russian and Western media, fresh arguments— all the things that make interesting journalism.
How many essays are you expecting?
Within the first five days of the competition we had already received 500 applications. I expect that the essays will come in their thousands.
Is this the first time that such a competition has been launched by the BBC for Russian students?
Yes, it is. As far as I am aware, no other language services have done this before either, but we expect the project to be hugely successful (see the application figures). The word went round even before the launch, when people sent us emails asking about the competition.
Is there a possibility that the winner will be offered employment once the work experience is over?
The first prize does not mean that the winner will be offered employment with the BBC— this has been explicitly noted in the rules.
The prize is an opportunity for a talented Russian journalist to see how a major international news organization works and to try their hand in BBC-style journalism. Our aim is to share our values of editorial integrity and impartiality with future Russian journalists and to help the best of the best to launch their careers in journalism.
The full details about the competition can be found on BBCRussian.com