Alexei Navalny – Journalist?

Alexei Navalny

In the immediate hours since the death of Alexei Navalny was announced I was struck by the standard emotions such a story provokes – something between anger and sadness. The murder was a grotesque act conducted, one way or another, by a cowardly dictator. I took in various news reports and read about the horrendous conditions he and his fellow inmates were held in. Since then, an interesting discussion about another part of his legacy that I’d never considered emerged – his journalism.

Nobody, least of Navalny himself, seems to have claimed he was a journalist. But, as Jon Allsop wrote for Colombia Journalism Review, “he undoubtedly committed important acts of journalism.

Also from Allsop:

In January 2021, Navalny, apparently fearing irrelevance in exile, returned to Russia, where he was immediately arrested. Days later, his foundation published a bombshell video investigation mapping out a luxurious Black Sea palace—with an on-site hookah lounge and adjacent oyster farm—that, Navalny and his team reported, was secretly built for Putin himself. The investigation helped catalyze significant protests against Putin’s rule (during which some demonstrators memorably hurled snowballs at police) and was quickly viewed tens of millions of times on YouTube;

Semafor’s Ben Smith made a similar observation:

Russia’s Alexei Navalny embodied the contemporary convergence of politics and media. He was a lawyer and activist, but also a blogger and YouTuber to the end.

Whichever way you look and it, the lines around the definition of a journalist are blurring. Alexei Navalny may be one of the most extreme examples of it, and he paid with his life.

It also should not be forgotten that a journalist, the Wall Street Journal‘s Evan Gerschkovich, remains in a Russian prison for doing journalism. It is approaching a year since he was first incarcerated.

[Image by Daniel from Pixabay]

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