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“Censorship is much worse than financial problems”: why did Forbes journalists oppose the new CEO

Interview with the publishing editor of the publication, who announced the departure after the scandal with the loss of material.

Ekaterina Eremenko. Photos from her personal Facebook page
Ekaterina Eremenko. Photos from her personal Facebook page

July 26 edition of the Russian magazine Forbes appealed to the prosecutor after the disappearance of the article from the August issue. The editorial board found such actions in violation of the law on the media, whereas the parent company explained the replacement of the material with the recommendation of lawyers.

On the same day, the material was released on the Forbes website, and a few hours later the editorial office temporarily turned off the electricity, and journalists were blocked access to the site. Shortly thereafter, he replaced the acting chief editor – instead of Nicholas Mazurina (on his behalf the complaint to the prosecutor) took the position of the former editor of Forbes Life Andrei Zolotov.

The issuing editor of the Forbes website, Ekaterina Eremenko, after Zolotova’s appointment, announced her resignation. She told why journalists consider the permutations an act of censorship and how the editorial staff wrote a letter to the owner of the Russian version of Forbes, Alexander Fedotov. Journalists indicated in the appeal about the continuing delay in wages and non-payment of taxes.

What is happening now in the editorial office?

Right now the editorial board is discussing what happened. Nothing new is happening. What are you exactly interested in?

Who, except you, leaves the editorial office and who remains?

This is too premature a question, because we do not fully know how to behave better. We do not know what actions will be taken by the owner of the publication in respect of [the former acting president]. and the new chief editor – approx. ] Nikolay Mazurin and [former chief editor] Irina Mokrousova, who direct the publication at the moment. And very much depends on this.

I understand that I am not ready to work under the leadership of Andrei Zolotov as acting. editor-in-chief. As for my colleagues, I think that more details will appear in the next week.

If briefly, what was at the editorial meeting?

In short, a girl who looks like Uma Thurman, announced that our new IO. The editor-in-chief is Andrey Zolotov. And Andrei Zolotov refused to answer any questions. We were informed that tomorrow, at 10 am, there will be a meeting of the editorial board, and he will answer all our questions.

What does mean the appointment of Andrei Zolotov editor of Forbes?

This is a disgrace. Because the editor-in-chief of a business publication should have experience in business journalism and the experience is quite serious. Because you need to edit the [large texts], you need to monitor the quality of the content, and the quality of the content and the specifics of what the authors write in the Forbes and Forbes Life editions – I think the difference is obvious to everyone.

Forbes Life specializes in traveling, charity, and art. Tells stories about how billionaires spend money. And the Forbes edition tells stories about business, career, how to build business in Russia, how billionaires earn their fortunes and what happens to them later. This is investigative journalism, and journalism of large data, and this is a big work. This is a very serious post – to be the editor-in-chief.

In my opinion, even when formally the editor-in-chief was Nikolai Uskov, in reality the bulk of the content creation work in the Forbes magazine was overseen by Nikolai Mazurin, who was and still is the chief editor of the publication. Now the following happened: Nikolai Mazurin after the dismissal of Uskov was appointed acting. editor-in-chief. Now we have a new [acting] editor-in-chief, Andrei Zolotov, who, in my opinion, understands little in business journalism. This is a personal opinion and a value judgment.

To replace one glamorous guy who does not understand anything in business journalism, to another glamorous guy who is simply comfortable with the publisher? In my opinion, this is not the wisest decision.

And why is Zolot convenient to the publisher? And the lack of his experience is the only reason for fear?

No, lack of experience, for me personally, this is not the main reason. The most important reason is that everyone understands that Andrei Zolotov is the person with whom it is easier for the publisher to agree. Even on the site Zolotov tries to slip the texts, which, in my opinion, are jeans. We are trying to fight this. As you can see, this does not always work out.

Can you give an example? Any.

I can not give an example now. I know that we reject some of the texts, because they do not correspond to editorial standards. Most often this is from Forbes Life. They refer to the fact that they have some agreements that some advertising texts are put not as advertising.

Andrei Zolotov is the only person who did not sign the letter [of the editorial staff] to [Fedorov] Fedotov, the co-owner of the Russian version of Forbes. I think we did not talk about it publicly, so I congratulate you on this information.

In my opinion, last week we wrote a letter to Alexander Fedotov, in which the editorial asked questions about when the debts to our freelance writers will be paid off, when we will receive salaries on time, why our taxes are not paid. Because some of the editorial staff found through the personal offices on the tax site that the personal income tax is not paid for us by the publisher. Employees found that taxes paid 10 thousand rubles or not at all.

And does not pay for a long time?

As far as I know, in the year 2017 many employees have paid almost nothing. And we believe that, perhaps, this is due to the blocking of the publisher’s accounts. Perhaps he thinks otherwise, ask him.

With this information, we asked our president [Fedotov] to analyze and give some answer. We have not responded to precisely these financial issues, and we, of course, are outraged.

Find out the situation with the removal of the text from the magazine – this is not our most important problem. We believe that censorship is much worse than financial campaigns.

Under the letter to Fedotov, I personally collected signatures of employees. And everyone who was on the editorial board that day who was not on a business trip or vacation, signed. And Zolotov did not sign. I think that he got his job in this way.

You or one of your colleagues asked why Zolotov made such a decision?

After what happened today, I’m not ready to communicate with him. I think you should ask him. He says that we will live as before, but I do not believe in it. I think we will live somehow differently. I do not exist in its coordinate system.

It all started with the disappearance of the material about the business of the Magomedov brothers. Why could the material disappear in your opinion? Representatives of businessmen said that they did not influence the preparation of the article.

I can not say specifically why he disappeared. I do not even know at what stage it was withdrawn from the magazine. Let the prosecutor’s office do it.

I can assume that someone from the figurants of this article or those mentioned in this article asked Alexander Fedotov or people close to him about this. And someone in the administration of our company was frightened. I think that this is connected with fear, not with a bribe or something else. This is my personal opinion and value judgment.

Is it too early to talk about any reaction from the prosecutor’s office? Maybe there was an answer?

I do not know about that. I understand that Nikolai Mazurin submitted documents, and he is waiting for some reaction. He told the editorial board that within seven days there will be a check and they will give us some answer.

After you filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office, how did the editorial staff work? Still, the problem became known in the evening.

I understand that at 13:57 a text was published , which was written by Sergei Titov [co-authored with Elena Berezanskaya]. This text hung for several hours on the site. After this text was published, we were cut off the light. And then in the evening we were cut off access to the admin [editorial content management system on the site]. So now we can not do anything.

Have you decided what you will do now? Is there any media where you can theoretically work?

I’m desperately looking for this media, where there will not be such a trash. I want to stay in journalism. I do not know where you can work and not encounter such ******** [chaos]. I want to do normal, high-quality media. I can and I can work hard, but I do not know where to go so that there is not such a mess.

turned to Andrei Zolotov to give him the opportunity to respond to the complaints of the editorial staff, but received no prompt response.

Before the preparation of the material in the official Telegram-channel Forbes , amessage appeared written by dissatisfied employees of the editorial office. By the time the article was published, it has not been deleted yet.

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