J. Quinn Martin is editor-in-chief of Passport Magazine. He graduated from Macalester College in 2002 with degrees in International Studies, Russian Language and Literature, and in Russian, Central and Eastern European studies. Upon graduation, Quinn moved to Moscow to work as a freelance journalist; his work has been printed in publications as diverse as Smithsonian Air and Space and The Wall Street Journal, the Moscow Times and the United Nations Chronicle. Quinn is also editor of the book Taming the Wild East: New Russian Entrepreneurs Tell Their Stories, published in English and Russian in Moscow, 2004.
Quinn recently shared his own story with us: about work and life and being arrested.
SRAS: What is your official job title?
Quinn: Editor-in-chief of Passport Magazine
SRAS: How would you describe your job?
Quinn: I work with a network of talented writers, photographers and designers to create a monthly lifestyle magazine for English-speakers in Russia.
SRAS: What attracted you to working in Russia?
Quinn: I studied Russian at university, and spent my off-campus semester at Moscow State University. When I graduated, I knew Moscow was where I wanted to live. It’s a dynamic city full of fun and opportunity.
SRAS: Are journalistic standards and styles in Russia greatly different from those in America?
Quinn: The news business here is dramatically different. International news is covered much more seriously and in-depth, for instance. In Moscow, there are a huge number of newspapers that lobby for every conceivable political faction and narrow economic or social interest — none of them claiming the mantle of “objectivity” to which most American newsrooms vainly aspire. Yet, there are major downsides to Russian journalism, foremost being the state control of almost all the major national television stations.
SRAS: What has been the most interesting experience you have as a reporter/writer in Russia?
Quinn: I’ve been arrested twice over here. Once over a visa dispute on the Russian-Ukrainian border in a town ironically named “Friendship” (Druzhba). The second time was at the airport in Kiev: the police claimed my registration wasn’t legit, but I was able to sneak away while they weren’t looking and board my plane to New York.
SRAS: What can Passport Magazine offer to students studying in Russia?
Quinn: Well, you’re very welcome to read the magazine. You can pick it up at 250 distribution points throughout Moscow, or look for us online at www.passportmagazine.ru. We also occasionally offer unpaid internships to top students with Russian language skills and an interest in journalism. Email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.
SRAS: Do you believe that opportunities for western journalists and writers are growing or shrinking in Russia? In what other fields are opportunities growing/shrinking?
Quinn: The world will always be (justifiably) fascinated with Russia, so opportunities for western journalists are likely to continue to be strong. Also, given Russia’s educated labor force, abundant natural resources and sheer size, opportunities for businesspeople will continue to grow.
SRAS: Anything you would add for students looking to Russia for opportunity?
Quinn: Though it’s not as easy to become a billionaire here as it was back in the 1990s, Russia is still a land of great opportunities. It’s a country still in flux after 70 years of Communism, which means that every person living here has a chance to impact the society, to influence change in this fascinating land.