Sport-Express; like a decline and a breakthrough

A book by sports journalists Igor Rabiner and Sergey Mikulik "Sex in big sport" is published: about the history of the newspaper "Sport-Express", the leader in the Russian sports press market.

"Sport-Express" as a decline and a breakthrough

The publishing house "Independent Sport" publishes a book by sports journalists Igor Rabiner and Sergey Mikulik "Sex in big sport". The book is devoted to the history of the Sport-Express newspaper, which has been the leader in the Russian sports press market since the early 1990s. The newspaper was created in 1991 by former employees of the newspaper "Soviet Sport" headed by Vladimir Kuchmiy. In recent years, Sport-Express, while maintaining its usual information content and a fairly high level of analytics, is going through hard times: the newspaper changes owners and chief editors, and is experiencing funding problems. Rabiner was fired from Sport-Express last year. Interlocutor RS – co-author of the book Sergei Mikulik was one of the founders of the publication.

– The newspaper appeared in 1991, and I honestly blew it for four years. I left on my own, no one kicked me out, so I never had any thoughts of settling scores with someone. But it so happened that last summer my good friend Igor Rabiner was fired from Sport-Express, they fired me badly, ugly and wrong, as it seemed to me. He sued, and at the same time the idea arose to write a book of memoirs. The main founder of "Sport-Express" was, alas, the now deceased Vladimir Kuchmiy. He told me many times: “Old man, if someone ever put all the sports newspapers aside and wrote a book called “How it was done”, people would be delighted. Readers don’t know what journalists do” inside the newspaper. And so we decided to put this advice into practice.

– Usually in such cases nothing good comes out of making rubbish out of the hut. In such books, people who remain in their former place of work will not read anything good about themselves. Is your book an exception?

– You are right, but to a greater extent these words may refer to the part written by Igor, since he, as they say, has a fresh resentment. I have no resentment, in my chapters there is not a single negative character at all, with the exception of perhaps the general director Ivan Rubin, from whom, in fact, I left at one time. But Rubin (he sold the newspaper not so long ago) also turned out to be not a very negative character for me, he is just a person from another world. But in general, the book is, you know, a cheerful version of the past, in the genre of "how it was done in the newspaper," to paraphrase Isaac Babel slightly.

– In the early 1990s, the appearance of "Sport-Express" made a splash in the sports press market, it was some kind of newspaper of a completely new type. What was it about?

– "Sport-Express" was founded by journalists who fled from "Soviet Sport", from its editor-in-chief Valery Kudryavtsev.The best team of sports journalists under the leadership of such an editor-in-chief did not have any opportunity to realize themselves, and "SE" appeared. In general, this is what I conceived the book for: to explain the gap between the party "Soviet Sport" and "Sport-Express". The name, by the way, was invented by Leonid Trakhtenberg, with the slogan: "Express – it doesn't get faster." The main difference was this. In the Soviet press, even in Moscow, the results of the evening competitions could be found out not only tomorrow, but only the day after tomorrow. Such was the production cycle of the newspaper. And in the province the result of the match played on Sunday was recognized on Wednesday. There was then neither the Internet nor mobile phones, but there was solid Soviet television, and the fans were bored by the lack of information. "Sport-Express" gave all this the very next day: we changed the schedule for the release of the issue. It was a breakthrough. It got to the point that we found out the results of matches in a distant Soviet province, where there were not even TASS correspondents, from the fans detained for hooliganism: they called the police departments, in which the phones worked around the clock. And at 6 am, a fresh issue of the newspaper with the full results of the matches went to the kiosk.

– What, in your opinion, has Sport-Express given to Russian sports journalism?

– At one time it was a definite breakthrough, it was just another planet. In Soviet Sport, imagine, there was no subscription to the tapes of foreign news agencies, they were simply not needed, because journalists glorified the achievements of Soviet athletes, and if we were beaten, it was due to the intrigues of enemies or the injustice of judges. By the early 2000s, Sport-Express had become a newspaper quite comparable to the leading sports newspapers in Western Europe.

– Now the newspaper "Sport-Express" is going through hard times. Is it due to a creative crisis, in your opinion, or has the times simply changed: in the era of multimedia, the daily newspaper is simply not able to compete?

– I think SE's problems are largely related to the fact that Vladimir Mikhailovich Kuchmiy died in 2009. No offense to colleagues will be said, new ideas from the guys, as the market shows, did not appear. But "SE" even now has no special competitors: "Soviet Sport" has remained in its niche, two daily sports newspapers could well exist in Russia. However, in the provinces, where the Internet is far from being as widely developed as in big cities, interest in Sport-Express is still high. The new “SE” team, rejuvenated, is trying to look for something new, but how it turns out is a difficult question. To summarize, I think it's premature, but I'm sure that people will taxi somewhere. I personally know many of them very well, very talented guys, God bless them.

– In your opinion, has sports journalism changed a lot since Soviet times?

The best team of sports journalists under the leadership of such an editor-in-chief did not have any opportunity to realize themselves, and "SE" appeared. In general, this is what I conceived the book for: to explain the gap between the party "Soviet Sport" and "Sport-Express". The name, by the way, was invented by Leonid Trakhtenberg, with the slogan: "Express – it doesn't get faster." The main difference was this. In the Soviet press, even in Moscow, the results of the evening competitions could be found out not only tomorrow, but only the day after tomorrow. Such was the production cycle of the newspaper. And in the province the result of the match played on Sunday was recognized on Wednesday. There was then neither the Internet nor mobile phones, but there was solid Soviet television, and the fans were bored by the lack of information. "Sport-Express" gave all this the very next day: we changed the schedule for the release of the issue. It was a breakthrough. It got to the point that we found out the results of matches in a distant Soviet province, where there were not even TASS correspondents, from the fans detained for hooliganism: they called the police departments, in which the phones worked around the clock. And at 6 am, a fresh issue of the newspaper with the full results of the matches went to the kiosk.

– What, in your opinion, has Sport-Express given to Russian sports journalism?

– At one time it was a definite breakthrough, it was just another planet. In Soviet Sport, imagine, there was no subscription to the tapes of foreign news agencies, they were simply not needed, because journalists glorified the achievements of Soviet athletes, and if we were beaten, it was due to the intrigues of enemies or the injustice of judges. By the early 2000s, Sport-Express had become a newspaper quite comparable to the leading sports newspapers in Western Europe.

– Now the newspaper "Sport-Express" is going through hard times. Is it due to a creative crisis, in your opinion, or has the times simply changed: in the era of multimedia, the daily newspaper is simply not able to compete?

– I think SE's problems are largely related to the fact that Vladimir Mikhailovich Kuchmiy died in 2009. No offense to colleagues will be said, new ideas from the guys, as the market shows, did not appear. But "SE" even now has no special competitors: "Soviet Sport" has remained in its niche, two daily sports newspapers could well exist in Russia. However, in the provinces, where the Internet is far from being as widely developed as in big cities, interest in Sport-Express is still high. The new “SE” team, rejuvenated, is trying to look for something new, but how it turns out is a difficult question. To summarize, I think it's premature, but I'm sure that people will taxi somewhere. I personally know many of them very well, very talented guys, God bless them. – In your opinion, has sports journalism changed a lot since Soviet times?

– Internal censorship has disappeared, now you think less about what the consequences of your article will be. However, the pursuit of efficiency, of course, greatly affects the quality, and this, alas, cannot be denied. – And it seems to me that the world of sports journalism is still highly censored. Once unflattering to write about someone – often means losing access to the athlete, to the coach..

– I have to agree with you. Moreover, the realities of the time have changed, previously, athletes performing outside the borders of Russia often learned about the publications of "SE" in retellings, and now they have direct and quick access to all information. And the word "weighs" less now.

– The sport of the highest achievements in Russia, as before in the USSR, is not just a sport, but politics. Major tournaments, like the Olympic one, are associated with big public problems: corruption, squandering of funds, violation of the rights of citizens who, say, are illegally evicted from some Imereti valley … The specialized sports press should write about this, or its destiny is "goals, points , seconds"?

“You know, I still think not. When we created "Sport-Express", the idea was this: to write about sports, and only about it. Everything that is around, we diligently swept aside. This tradition is maintained, and rightly so, –

considers sports journalist Sergei Mikulik.