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Pioneering woman journalist to speak at LWC on Wednesday

By Dan Koger

Michelle Carter, a humanitarian, Russia scholar, and pioneer in expanding the role of women in journalism, will read from her book From Under the Russian Snow and discuss Russian culture and politics at a public forum Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at 7pmCT at Slider Recital Hall on the Lindsey Wilson College campus.

Michelle has been a leader in breaking down gender walls in American daily newspapers, retiring in 1995 as Managing Editor of the San Mateo Times, a daily newspaper in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Throughout her life Michelle has had an abiding interest in Russia, first as a Russian language and culture student in high school and college, and then as a frequent visitor to the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia.

While on a 1990 trip to Minsk, Byelorussia, as part of an international exchange with the Soviet Peace Committee, Michelle met Dr. Olga Aleinikova, director of the Children's Hematological Hospital in Minsk, who was struggling to treat the many children suffering from effects of the catastrophe at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in the northeast corner of Ukraine.

In response, Michelle founded the Children of Chernobyl Project in Northern California, eventually raising more than half a million dollars for chemo drugs to aid Dr. Aleinikova's work. As part of the effort to tell the Chernobyl story, Michelle wrote the book Children of Chernobyl: Raising Hope From the Ashes (Augsburg, 1993), in collaboration with Dr. Michael Christensen, a distinguished educator and Methodist minister who shares her admiration for Dr. Aleinikova and her work.

In late 1994, while still managing editor of the San Mateo Times, Michelle was contacted by the Russia desk of the United States Information Agency about spending the year 1995 in Russia teaching newspaper editors there techniques of modern news reporting, page design and marketing, after decades under Soviet rule of the media.

After discussions with her husband and her children, Michelle, at the age of 50, quit her job as a senior editor of the Times to work as a USIA journalist-consultant, living in Russia for a year and helping Russian journalists understand the world of a free press.

"I went off by myself without my family to act as a midwife to an emerging free press in a country where editors and reporters had never been free to write about public affairs as they saw fit," Michelle told an interviewer in the U.S.

While in Russia, Michelle traveled across all eleven of Russia's time zones, visiting more than 50 cities, teaching her Russian news clients, and learning from them.

Twenty years later Michelle wrote From Under the Russian Snow, a combination documentary and memoir of her experiences during her year with the Russian editors.

Hailed as a snapshot of life in Russia during the post-Soviet, pre-Putin bubble of freedom, the book provides a glimpse into Michelle's life as she worked with Russian journalists while adapting to the challenges of the nation's language, economy, immense geography and daunting culture.


This story was posted on 2019-11-11 18:18:23
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