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Basov O. Analytical journalism in market categories
The organizers of one of the discussion platforms at the Russian Forum suggest speaking about "analytical journalism" as a "lost link in the democratic process." I have to admit that this “loss of the link” itself has caused me the feeling that there is a certain standard democratic process, fully equipped with spare parts and stored in the city of Sevres along with a reference meter and a reference kilogram. And that our process would need to be measured by it. It is very possible that readers of political science literature, to which the author does not belong, are familiar with the reference demo process. In addition, the author did not meet “independent” journalism in nature, therefore, the corresponding predicate had to be omitted. For in the free market, the media differ only in the degree and nature of their dependence - they will be discussed about them, as well as the nature of market freedom, too. But first, let's talk about the genre.

Analytics as a genre covers a certain area in the coordinate frame of information journalism, journalism and expertise. They can be considered as its components or as independent genres. The genre boundaries are rather conditional and are determined, first of all, by the goals and accents of the author. Publicism, strictly speaking, is literature, therefore, its highest goal - the impact on the reader. In this sense, analytics (more precisely, analyticity) for journalism is only a resource, the same as, for example, the author’s outlook, style and syllable. The analyst is distinguished by an underlined reverence for the facts. Respect may be demonstrative and accompanied by deliberate dryness of style. This can damage the quality of journalism, but not analysts. Expertise is not a journalistic genre at all. A journalist can conduct an examination only to the extent that he is able to confirm professionalism not in journalism itself, but in the subject area. Expert material is evaluated solely by the criteria of this subject area. His journalistic qualities are important only for whether he will be published in the appropriate section of the relevant newspaper or not.

Analytical journalism as a product includes a mandatory information component and has genre intersections with journalism and expertise. The last two genres naturally exclude each other within the same text, but often complement each other in the same media. There are analytical publications in which there is no journalism, for example, “Financial newspaper”. The quality of an analytical publication can be judged by the quality of expertise - there are no other formal criteria. If the publication does not contain expertise, then its analyst is not a profile genre, but a journalistic tool. Therefore, the analytical press is represented primarily by specialized publications that set the tone on the market. As a rule, their information is aimed at decision makers (DM) in the relevant field. The profitability of a specialized publication is determined by the turnover of capital in this area. A business analytical magazine can be sustainably profitable even at moderate print runs (due to the high price of advertising space), and, for example, humanitarian-oriented media are often forced to either subsidize or explore specific adjacent niches. If these are the niches of politics and PR (but not only in this case), then PR can bring a substantial (and even the main) share of the value added produced by the media. This share is not paid by the consumer, but by the customer. Without insider information, it is impossible to distinguish a subsidy from a PR fee. Consequently, it is only speculative to distinguish analytics from PR, not only by the nature of the material, but also by the business model of the publication. Often, the respectable, high quality of analytics in one area works as a consumer lure for social technology. Humanitarian themes often serve as bait, and to a lesser extent, economics (which in itself is more profitable and less digestible). Any publication (regardless of profitability) will participate in the PR strategy of its owner.

"Independent Analytical Journalism", as a phenomenon, is realized only by individual authors, less often - by publications that position their analytics on the market as something free from manipulative technologies. If we are not talking about individual authors / publications, then the success of this positioning strongly depends on the market profitability of the information market and, as a result, on macroeconomic indicators in general. The better they are, the more possible is independent analytics. Independent to the extent permitted by the publisher.

The difficulty is that there is generally little profitable media and that everyone tries to look free from PR. PR, well disguised as analytics, can only be “figured out” by experts - according to the quality of expertise in the author’s analytics. However, the PR of "ordinary" mass quality can be detected with the help of elementary attentiveness. One of the markers of "information technology" is the mimicry of genres - "pure" journalism is given for analytics; analytics, "literary" operating well-known factors - for expertise. The author or editor is professionally obliged to feel the genre categorization. For the consumer, this sensitivity is desirable - an extra litmus test does not interfere. And often helps.

Weed Zeros. For example, the author / editor complains about the absence of a consumer willing to pay for analytics — it is not clear whether this is coquetry or the inability to build a business model. For the decision makers in the country have not yet been killed as a class, and advertisers are ready to pay for their involvement as an audience. However, if the editor and his media produce only pure journalism, this already explains a lot. If, moreover, it is online media, then the cost ratio for the site (from the Xanadu Group) to advertising (in mailboxes at Mail.ru) with a modest set of banners will give a greater idea of ​​the business model than the intricate self-positioning as a “non-commercial partnerships involving government officials.

So, the demand for analytics will not translate as long as decision makers exist in the country as a class. That's all right; harder with the sentence. Oligarchs, officials, as well as foreign organizations "with an active lifestyle" are subsidized by many media outlets (moreover, officials do this from the state's pocket). The subsidized media is pumping a lot of resources out of the market, so the rest work on the verge of profitability. Analytical journalism is very resource intensive, which means there is always a temptation to save money, and save on almost everything. The most popular ways of saving are unaccounted turnover, as well as overestimation of the level of presentation of analytical results.

The following example is appropriate. In one of the publications, an employee was offered to do micromarketing research on the cost of renting class A, B and C office space in Russia. The customer demanded a direct call to realtors, and the result had to be issued in the form of an expert article within two days. The contractor warned that the A / B / C classification of each agency is fundamentally different and that one of its telephone clarifications takes from 15 to 30 minutes, therefore the deadlines are insufficient. The customer proposed to lower the classification clarification phase, but to meet the deadlines. For a marketer, this would be a mortal sin.

The case is typical for Russian business practice in all respects, except for one. Due to the underestimation of the necessary labor, the performer attended to his reputation more than the further prospects of cooperation. He completed the task in accordance with the requirements, rejecting only one (in an explicit form for the customer) - from submitting his analytical article as an examination.

Analytical journalism as a format. For publications with a margin of profitability, other problems are more characteristic, namely, the creation and promotion of a brand. It does not entail an automatic increase in the quality and depth of analytics. Preference may be given to other competitive advantages - for example, the volume, scope and timeliness of the information offered. In large agencies such as RBC and Interfax, analytics come as a complementary ingredient to news feeds and cost reduction comes to the fore. Therefore, employees must have a strictly defined set of skills, not higher - not lower. The author of the news feed has fast and competent printing in Russian and English and the ability to mechanize the journalistic processing of technical texts. Work is not for a specialist. The editor has increased literacy in writing, literate English (at least passive) and a tenacious sense of possible factual mistakes of the authors. The editor can come to a stupor from the seemingly innocuous special term (such as "liberalization of the wholesale market of electric power industry"), which entered the text from the translation. The work of a specialist is to select from the stream of gigabytes of information of those news that seem to him more technologically significant, and send them to the authors and editors for grinding. The range of questions for the analyst and the methods of their analysis are very strictly determined by the topics of the news feed and sources of primary information. Creativity in this technology is the minimum, so the lion’s share of the analytical niche remains for the weeklies and monthly.

The preference of the monthly (in relation to the weekly) technological cycle in the West is usually made by the media, wishing to improve the quality of analytics due to the connection with the academic environment offering a “slow” product. In Russia, the academic environment affects the analytical mode to a much lesser extent. Therefore, the choice of a long cycle is dictated by a critical reduction in costs and / or the desire to slowly occupy a specific, non-mass market niche, as is done, for example, “Domestic Notes” or “Message”. It is difficult to say how these media are trendsetters in their field. Without being sufficiently qualified in it, the author of these lines gives others to answer this question as they see fit. In economic analytics (about which further mainly there is a speech), perhaps, the most successful editions with a weekly cycle.

Impact on expert discussion, provided by analytical journalism, in Russia, in contrast to the West, is indirect. The fact is that in the West, many analytical publications, especially weekly, try to grab the mass market, because there is more of an economically active and wealthy reader. The costs of this are damage to independence and quality, because the general reader is less sophisticated and more interesting as an object of political marketing. At one time, the chief editor of Expert, Valery Fadeev, acknowledged that the projects that were jointly with The Economist turned out to be uninteresting to the target Russian audience. Experts in Russia quote the quality of analysts of mass and universal publications below and trust them less than specialized ones. This can be seen by reading the rating of business publications of the Association of Managers of Russia.

“Vedomosti”, tailored to Western templates, loses to “Expert” and “Kommersant” in depth of analysis and confidence index. The same pattern is illustrated by the superiority of "Economy and Life" in the index of trust over universal editions.

Impact on the political processprovided by analytics, even less clear. Interestingly, the more serious the analytical reputation of the publication, the more restrained it is in its influence on the reader. Compare at least controlled by Berezovsky "Kommersant" and "Independent". Generally speaking, there are three information layers: a political discussion, an economic discussion, and a discussion in the media. The latter stands apart, mainly because of the low economic qualifications of journalists in universal mass media. According to the Vice-Rector of the Higher School of Economics A. Yakovlev, the political discussion is isolated from the rest of the will of the authorities. The advantages of the economic discussion of experts is that it is conducted continuously and is little affected by political conjuncture. The disadvantage is its isolation in the community. But the community itself is unable to unlock it: the media should begin to fight for trust to a greater extent than for influence.

Neither the market nor political situation is favorable for this yet - and not a fact that they will be favorable in the future. Therefore, the prospects of "independent analytics" entirely depend on the emergence of an independent and qualified consumer who knows which journalism to trust and in what. In this sense, such side effects of the free market, such as ratings of authoritative organizations or expert discussion sites, accelerate the progress of institutionalization of the analytical environment.

The author’s observations on the markets of economic and political journalism suggest that progress in the first one will be faster. Calling things by their names, the Open Economy website is more like a resource for expert discussion than the Kremlin.org website, first of all in terms of the quality of presentation of questions and their relevance, in terms of the authority of the experts and institutions involved.

A possible explanation is that the second market is fundamentally more closed; an open analytical product on it is possible only as a side, going in addition to political technologies or to universal journalism. The picture may partly change, if in Russia, as in the West, political science will acquire real academic status and its own canon, but for now this is too far from perspective.