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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News Giants to Launch Magazine

Newsweek magazine and Russia's MOST Group, which backs the Segodnya newspaper, NTV independent television and Ekho Moskvy radio, have joined forces to launch a new weekly magazine, to be called Itogi.


"We have the commercial and the editorial strength to make it a success," Richard Smith, chairman of the Newsweek Group, announced at a press conference Wednesday.


Itogi, named after NTV's popular weekly news program, will be launched March 18, and after a two-week gap will appear every Monday in 80 color pages.


"We're building a bridge between the extremely influential program 'Itogi' here, and the extremely influential magazine Newsweek there," said the magazine's editor, Sergei Parkhomenko, making a pun on the name MOST, which is Russian for "bridge." "We want to be similar to 'Itogi' as well as to Newsweek."


Itogi will have exclusive rights to 12 pages of Newsweek material in every issue, Parkhomenko said.


Initially priced at 25 cents per copy, it will have a starting print run of 50,000 copies which its leaders hope to double by the end of the year. The new magazine will employ about 40 full-time reporters, and rely heavily on cooperation from the daily Segodnya, and the "Itogi" television program, Parkomenko said, adding that Yevgeny Kiselyov, host to NTV 's "Itogi," will write a regular column in the new magazine.


Itogi's journalists will be made to sign a document stating that they are free from political or commercial prejudices, Parkhomenko said.


"Aggressive, fair, accurate reporting come first and interpretation and analysis flow from that reporting," said Newsweek's Smith. "If we did not believe that Sergei Parkhomenko and Newsweek shared the same commitment to aggressive and accurate reporting I would not be sitting here today,"


Parkhomenko and Smith said the magazine's launch had been specifically planned to coincide with the campaign for the June 16 presidential election.


"I certainly recognize that this is a period of intense political change and political activity," Smith said. "At this moment people desire the best and most unbiased political coverage."


MOST chairman Vladimir Gusinsky and Smith refused to name a dollar figure for the initial investment in the paper. While Gusinsky said MOST Group had made 100 percent of the investment, Smith was more elusive.


"There are commitments and there are resources from both sides. And if that says finances to you, you may or may not be right," he said. "Again I would stress that these are long-term commitments on both sides."


While the announcement of Itogi's launch came shortly after another ambitious weekly magazine -- Ponedelnik -- closed for lack of cash after three issues, Smith seemed undaunted.


"Ten years ago, Newsweek launched a Japanese language edition the same week that Reader's Digest, which had been in the Japanese market for 40 years, went out of business," he said, adding that this had not hindered Newsweek's success. "Launching a magazine is a risky business and I applaud Mr. Gusinsky's courage."


Gusinsky said he refused to be hindered by prospects of a Communist victory in the presidential elections, and added that he hoped all Russian publications would fight for freedom of speech as the elections draw near.


Smith echoed his views, adding that immediate changes were less important than the country's gradual development.


"Political change, who's up and who's down in the polls, is a short-term phenomenon," he said. "What we're hoping to create here is a long-term venture."