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Our Texas - Russian Paper Spearheads Russian Culture

New America Media, NAM Ethnic Media Profile, Ekaterina Basilaia Posted: Aug 07, 2008

Editors Note: Russian culture and language is spreading in the Lone Star State, thanks in large part to Sophia Grinblat and her newspaper, Our Texas, reports NAM contributor Ekaterina Basilaia.

In 2002, with no staff and no hands-on experience in newspaper production and publishing, Sophia Grinblat started Our Texas, and the newspaper soon turned into a fulltime commitment.

sophiaI started the newspaper with the support from the local Russian-speaking community, who volunteered to help with articles, design and distribution, Grinblat said. I started it because there was not a single newspaper throughout the whole state that would serve the Russian speaking community. She came to Houston in 1990 and has been deeply involved in the life of the local Russian speaking community ever since.

Our Texas is the largest Russian language newspaper in Texas, with a circulation of 5,000, across Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, College Station and San Antonio.

Our Texas is special as it is not the yellow press. We do not have horoscopes or dating information there. We try to maintain the level and reflect whatever our community might want and need to read in the paper, Grinblat said.

The aim of the newspaper is to better inform the community of cultural, business and entertainment events in Texas, as well as local history and nature.

The idea of the newspaper is that it should have all the information about and for the Russian speaking community, about their new home country, Grinblat explained. The newspaper will help them to assimilate into the local community and to identify themselves more as Americans. They [Russian-speaking community] should not feel like guests in this land.

According to the recent data there are about 90,000 Russian speakers residing in Texas. There are also many Russian visitors who are devoted readers of Our Texas.

The main topics covered in the newspaper are politics, economics, science, health and law, and everything that is happening within the state of Texas. The newspaper regularly receives and publishes news from governmental and private organizations. It also runs advertisements for all the Russian and American organizations that are willing to cooperate with the newspaper and is actively involved in promoting culture and art locally. It has an ongoing business relationship with the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Van Cliburn Foundation, Arlington Ballet, Kimbell Art Museum, Society of the Performing Arts and many other centers of art and culture in Texas. Working with these organizations, Grinblat tries to call attention to the richness of Russian culture among American audiences by organizing Russian concerts, shows, exhibits, festivals and more.

We try to provide the local community with the news that is interesting to them; we try to translate all the available information about politics, culture, business you know, not everybody reads English news.

One more distinguishing feature of the newspaper is that most of the papers material is written by its staff of four in-house reporters and four freelancers.

The newspaper is tabloid-size and is issued bi-weekly every second Friday. It can be picked up free of charge at various locations in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, College Station and San Antonio. It can also be received by mail via subscription for a nominal fee. The newspaper has a Web site, which is updated regularly.

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