As part of its English-language Russia Beyond the Headlines (RBTH) initiative, Russian daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta has created an iPad app called TOUCH RUSSIA to help bring news from across Russia to the rest of the world. Rossiyskaya Gazeta is the "Russian government's paper of record and provides the official publication of all laws, decrees and official statements of state bodies", according to the RBTH website.
Russia Beyond the Headlines already has partnerships with various publications in several countries, including, Italy, India, France, Germany, Belgium, Serbia, Bulgaria and the US. The goal of the publication is to disseminate a more accurate portrayal of diversity and developments in Russian culture and the political and economic state of the nation.
According to Rossiyskaya Gazeta: "We believe that Russia is a diverse and complex country in a state of major transformation, still coming to terms with its long - sometimes painful, sometimes curious - history, that cannot be understood in the context of stereotypes. We would like to present significant facts and ideas that fall under the 'radar screen' of major international news outlets."
TOUCH RUSSIA launched on November 22 and aims to fully use the potential of the multimedia platform that the iPad offers to inform users about life in modern Russia. The app features daily updated news stories and a subscription to the monthly editions of Russia Beyond The Headlines, all re-packaged for the iPad.
The app makes good use of the iPad's multimedia capabilities to showcase some breath-taking photojournalism, including one photo essay about the area close to the Karymsky Volcano. The visual design element is a key feature of the app and one of its most appealing elements. The home page consists of a series of scrolling slideshows that lead to stories, the design is somewhat reminiscent of the BBC website, that just won an award for online excellence.
In term of content, the range is broad and offers insights into Russian history, which obviously helped mould the nation into the society it is today; for instance the latest edition features a piece on the Buddhist revival in Kalmykia and explains the history of Buddhist repression in Russia.
Overall, the app offers an interesting glimpse into the multimedia potential of the Russian news media today.