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If The Hospital Is Bad In Russia, Then Blog It

One of the pictures taken by the blogger
One of the pictures taken by the blogger
It gets kind of old to hear the oft-repeated idea that bloggers are somehow leeching of the decaying corpse of good-old honest mainstream journalism.

Well, here's a nice example from Russia of how blogging and citizen journalism can change the news agenda.

Vadim Isakov at Global Voices highlights an interesting post by an Israeli blogger with regional roots who posted a photo essay about her experiences in a hospital in Voronezh (she wasn't overjoyed with the quality of the care).

Not only did the post generate widespread debate on the blog itself, but it was also picked up by a number of mainstream news organizations, who might normally shy away from such an issue.

For instance, the mass-market tabloid "Komsomolskaya pravda," which would normally be preoccupied with reality TV, celebrity scandals, and sports, ran a piece detailing the blogger's experiences, which generated a much broader discussion.

With around 4 million blogs and very few media outlets bent on challenging the authorities, it's not an exaggeration to say that the Internet is the last bastion of free speech in Russia. My colleague Daisy Sindelar wrote recently about how grassroots activists were utilizing the blogosphere to provide relief for people suffering from the fires in Russia:

Olga Serebryanaya, who covers the Russian blogosphere for RFE/RL's Russian Service, points to particular LiveJournal standouts like the site and blogs by Igor Chersky and Elizaveta Glinka -- Fair Help's chief physician, who blogs under the name Doctor Liza. Serebryanaya says the proliferation of blogs and sites dedicated to the fires have gone a long way toward mending the sense of civic unity that has frayed in the two decades since the Soviet collapse.

Increasingly, opposition politics in Russia have become less about abstract (and some might say, irrelevant) political figures or parties, but more about grassroots issues: witness the car protests or the grassroots campaign against police corruption. This is contributing to the sense of "civic unity" that Serebryanaya speaks of, with the blogosphere fanning the flames.

The trickle-up effect (from blogosphere to mainstream media) is especially significant as it shows how bloggers and blogging continue to move further away from being the preserve of an urban, well-connected elite. (LiveJournal began bridging that gap a long time ago). Anyway, you can read the whole thing in Russian, or in (Google) translation.