Mikhail Nikolayevich, of course, for almost 100 years the request has not come from you, but … do you think it is more difficult now to make a youth edition than many years ago?
Mikhail Barannikov: Yes, I can’t say for everything, but I will say for the years that I worked. The most difficult period was probably the collapse of the USSR, the 90s. Then there was a difficult positioning that Pionerskaya Pravda was a political newspaper. It, they say, should not be given to children, it should be forbidden. Whereas in Soviet times, the state was very interested in what Pioneer was doing. In the eighties she had a Guinness record – 13 million copies. Now it is even difficult to imagine that 13 million kopecks three times a week, four times a month went to Zarnitsa and the organization of 25 sports clubs … Now we are a non-profit organization, and our resources do not always allow us to do more. Of course, we have revived the ski races for the Pionerskaya Pravda prizes, and they are quite noisy, but it is rather difficult and done by enthusiasts.
A children’s edition can hardly be self-financing…
Mikhail Barannikov: We have to. There’s a small mini-digital grant, and everything else is just a subscription.
Pionerskaya Pravda was the press organ of the All-Union Pioneer organization. After the 10th gathering, the Union of Pioneer Organizations – Federation of Children’s Organizations became the legal successor of the organization. And the founder of the newspaper was a team of journalists.
How do parents today get their “Pionerka” children?
Mikhail Barannikov: By subscription. It can be delivered on the site, it can be done the old way, by mail. There is an option to subscribe to the journal in electronic form – you can simply download the pages to your computer immediately after the issue is published. It’s cheaper than a regular subscription. Children’s media presents an additional complication in that the reader is a teenager, but the buyer is still an adult. For the capitals, the price of a monthly pass is comparable to two metro journeys. And for some regions it is a large sum, sometimes a parent thinks three times before signing, even if the child likes to read the newspaper.
Can I access pionerka.ru from Belarus?
Mikhail Barannikov: Unfortunately, at the moment you can only enter when you are on the territory of Russia. The realities of the time are such that as soon as international access is opened, DDoS attacks from hackers immediately hit the site.
You have been with the newspaper since 1995, since 2006 you have been its editor-in-chief. Have our teenagers managed to change before your eyes?
Mikhail Barannikov: Children change very quickly and dynamically. Personally, I think it’s for the best. Today, teenagers think more about the future, approach their studies more consciously. They understand that they are building their future now. It can’t even be compared to what it was like 5-10 years ago. And the newspaper changes after them. And, of course, we have now arrived at absolutely “digital” children. They live in electronic magazines at school, do electronic homework. And for many, a paper diary is a curiosity. Even 4-5 years ago, I was surprised: you give a newspaper to children, and they try to enlarge the photo with their fingers to see it. Now, that doesn’t surprise anyone.
How do you manage to capture the attention of these “digital” children?
Mikhail Barannikov: Now a huge flow of information falls on young people – where what is happening, what is worth participating in, what is interesting. Thus, “Pionerskaya Pravda”, published on eight pages, is only the optimal volume for a teenager under the age of 13 to get acquainted with the events taking place in the areas of interest to him. And if we are talking specifically about our readers, then they are creative, active and curious children. We try to support this curiosity. In each issue we have a lot of interactive tasks, when we offer either to find information or to participate in something. This is what we call “Active Reader”, there are such tasks in every issue. The guys answer, we publish interesting answers, we reward the most active. For children, it’s a way of expressing themselves, but for us, it’s just great joy.
I see you don’t have a formal “dead” site, but a working portal.
Mikhail Barannikov: We are trying to form an information field for a teenager. It consists of the diary itself, containing, so to speak, an extract of information that a child can master in a week, from a portal where there is already more information, and from social networks in which something can be discussed in more detail.
The child cannot be removed from the Internet. If they tried to isolate me from my friends when I was a kid, it would be a big stress. Likewise, teenagers now perceive the smartphone as an indispensable companion in their lives. It’s not always bad. But at a time when a child begins to master the digital space, the role of parents is very important. Teenagers and children are very misguided on the web, and false information and various potentially dangerous things spread even faster in their environment. At the newspaper, we often try to hold master classes in Internet safety, as well as learn how to write articles, divide information into reliable and false. The brainwashing on the web is very strong.
Even 4-5 years ago I was surprised: you give the children a newspaper and they try to enlarge the picture with their fingers …
I know from experience that attempts to control children on the Internet often lead to quarrels and resentments in the family.
Mikhail Barannikov: I also have a teenager, but I can’t give general advice, everything is so different for everyone. My daughter is socially active, she participates in a lot of things, but at the same time she can spend most of the day on the Internet. I sometimes look at his screen time: “Seven hours! That’s a whole day’s work!” Probably, it’s a tribute to the times – a generation of teenagers who, on the break, instead of getting closer, will correspond.
Previously, the “face” of the newspaper was the profile of Lenin. But in the June 2023 issue – a portrait of Pushkin, drawn as if by a child’s hand.
p class=””>Mikhail Barannikov: It’s children’s drawing. We try to support an important event of the month in design. Like the birthday of a great poet, for example. In general, we like children’s drawings and publish them often.
It was in “Pionerka” that the story “Timur and his team” was first printed. And I know that everyone’s favorite electronics is also journal related.
Mikhail Barannikov: It’s true. Marta Baranova, the wife of the author of “Electronics” Yevgeny Veltistov, worked at Pionerskaya Pravda. One of the stories about electronics was indeed first published in Pionerka. When the film came out, guys from all over the Soviet Union wrote to Syroezhkin and Electronics to Pionerka, and the Torsuev brothers came to answer those letters.
And yet, why do you persist in keeping the paper edition, because paper is much more annoying?
Mikhail Barannikov: There are families who have preserved the culture of reading newspapers and magazines. When a teenager understands that there is exactly his newspaper, his edition, that he is going to arrive in the mailbox, there is a special charm there. By the way, some young parents grew up in the nihilism of the 90s, it is usually unusual for them to read. It turns out that their children even surpassed their parents in some respects.
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