While walking through the newsroom, Yury Shipachev spotted a set of Mickey Mouse ears on a desk top. For the first time, his words made sense without the use of a translator. "I'm impressed, Mickey Mouse."
Shipachev, a journalist from Leningrad, is in Salt Lake City for an international conference. Those mouse ears were about the only thing that looked familiar to Shipachev as he toured the Deseret News on Thursday. He had wanted to see the operation of an American newspaper.Shipachev was impressed with the advanced technology. He said the Soviet Union is about two years behind the Americans in newspaper technology. Only about two-thirds of Soviet papers use computers, and they don't have the capabilities of those at the Deseret News, he said.
The open and cluttered atmosphere of the newsroom was different than Shipachev was used to. In the Soviet Union every reporter has his own tiny office.
The American newspaper itself is impressive to Shipachev. To him, 50 cents for an 80-page newspaper is cheap. In the Soviet Union, the average daily runs four to six pages and costs about a dime.
People in the Soviet Union wait in lines to buy papers out of a corner machine, and usually there are not enough to meet the demand.
Shipachev said the issues covered in an American newspaper are more diverse than Soviet newspapers. However, Shipachev said, Soviet journalists are being allowed a little more freedom than in years past. They are allowed to criticize government officials and the parties, but criticism of the socialist system is still not allowed.
Toward the end of the tour, Shipachev recognized a photograph of Mikhail Gorbachev as it came across the laser photo machine. He took one with him as a reminder of his trip to an American newsroom.