Innovator in Residence joins journalism college


The first "Innovator in Residence" at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is Alexander Zolotarev, founder and CEO of, a website designed to give voice to the citizens of Sochi, Russia, as the construction of the 2014 Winter Olympics venues there transforms their formerly quiet resort town.

Zolotarev is a Fulbright scholar and associate professor of multimedia journalism at Moscow State University in Russia. During his Fulbright year at City University of New York, he researched his dissertation on the culture of journalism convergence in a multimedia world. He also is a winner of the prestigious digital news innovation award, the Knight News Challenge. Zolotarev won $600,000 to create and launch Sochi Reporter.

Zolotarev will work with reporting, advertising, public relations and business students as they learn how communications entrepreneurs analyze and solve problems.

"The key to the Innovators in Residence Program is that the innovator or entrepreneur has to present students with unsolved problems in their current project. Students will offer solutions that will be critiqued by the visiting entrepreneur," said Gary Kebbel, dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

The visiting entrepreneur and the students will work together to advance the project. "We want students to learn to solve real-life problems of 21st century media," said Charlyne Berens, associate dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Zolotarev graduated from the Russian-Norwegian High School in Moscow and studied journalism and music in Bergen, Norway. At age 21, just a year before graduating from Moscow State University with a master's degree in international journalism, he wrote the first Russian guidebook to Norway. He worked several years as staff editor in the Russian edition of the Esquire magazine, where he also covered techno gadgets and hi-tech innovation. He was promoted to special projects editor for nine magazines including Harvard Business Review (Russia), National Geographic (Russia), National Geographic Traveler (Russia). He also was a staff correspondent for the Russian entertainment and pop-culture program "All at once!" at NTV Channel (one of the leading channels in Russia). Zolotarev speaks English, Norwegian and Russian.

Launched in 2009, SochiReporter is one of the winners of the 2008 Knight News Challenge contest, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to shape the future of news and community. A website and database allow the community to track and debate how the plans are changing life there over a five-year period. The idea is to help residents better prepare for the Olympics, to inform the media about the city's issues and to use discussions about the games as a way to improve life in Sochi. SochiReporter is the first initiative to build a unified multimedia archive about the preparation of a host city for the Olympics, and it is a model for future Olympics hosts.

More details at: