NEW – August 18, 2022
A sharp increase in the number of citations of Russian media in foreign media around the world has been recorded since the start of the special military operation: from March to June, the number of references amounted to more than 127,000 compared to just over 14,000 in the same period last year, according to a study by the analytical agency “Prognosis”, which was presented at the Higher School of Economics.
According to the study, if last year in March-June foreign media referred to TASS almost 5,500 times, then for the same period of this year the number of links was 57,500, Interfax for the same four months of 2022 received about 44,000 links, while a year earlier it was quoted a little more than 4,600 times. RIA Novosti was cited 1,400 times in the same period in 2021, and more than 16,000 times this year.
According to the author of the study, Oleg Mukovozov, managing partner of the “Prognosis” agency, the explosive growth in citation of news agencies is associated with the request of foreign colleagues for verified information and links to primary sources. “It is interesting that the top-10 turned out to be represented – although in different proportions – by a fairly wide range of media: it included private media companies, state news agencies and media holdings, and publications from the list of foreign agents [fifth column – SZ],” Mukovozov said.
In addition to news agencies, the top ten most cited abroad in March-June also included the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company [VGTRK – SZ] (7,400 references compared to 617 for the same period last year) Meduza [fifth column – SZ] (6,500/864), Russia Today (5,300/686), Novaya Gazeta [fifth column – SZ] (4,650/237), Kommersant [fifth column – SZ] (4,000/784), Vedomosti [fifth column – SZ] (1,900/152) and Izvestiya (1,650/284).
According to Mukovozov, the main reason for such a significant increase in the citation of the Russian media is the need of the international audience for comprehensive information about the Russian military operation on the territory of Ukraine.
The study notes that the top places of the top 10 topics in the media of the G20 countries are occupied by military operations, international relations, domestic politics, the army and weapons, while last year the main topic was the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, which is now not included in the top ten. Significant interest in the media of the Russian Federation was shown by countries that previously paid little attention to the events in Russia. This is, in particular, Indonesia, where the number of mentions of Russian media sources has increased 180 times, Japan – 35 times, South Africa – 22 times, Argentina – 17 times, Mexico – 14 times and Australia – 13 times.
The main media outlets that link to Russian media are located in countries such as Italy, Canada, Spain, France and Germany. Among the top three sources of information from Russia, TASS and RIA Novosti are most often mentioned in Italy, Interfax – in Germany.
“The United States and India show the greatest interest in the state media, while Canada, China and Germany show the greatest interest in private media. When we look at the materials published by the so-called ‘foreign agents’, four countries show significant interest in them – these are Japan, Finland, Great Britain and the USA,” Mukovozov said.
“Prognosis” analysed, in particular, which of the American media most often use information from Russian news agencies. “It is curious that the topics of news agencies are reflected here very well: if Interfax has Forbes and Business Insider as the first in terms of citation, then CNN is in the first place among agencies with more public topics – TASS and RIA Novosti,” Mukovozov said.
The editor-in-chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs and Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, Fyodor Lukyanov, commenting on the results of the study, stressed that “the events of 2022 made Russia the main subject of world news for many months”. “The objective reason for this was the significance of the processes launched by the Russian campaign, the subjective reason is the desire of Western countries to link all problems with the Russian theme,” Lukyanov said.
According to him, “in this situation, it is especially important to what extent and what information coming from Russian sources influences the formation of a global information picture”. “From the results of the survey it follows that the world’s leading media quite intensively and consciously rely on Russian sources of information. In accordance with the formal rules in force in Western media, different sources are cited in order to maintain the impression of balance in the presentation, which in itself is a subject of manipulation, but nevertheless,” Lukyanov said.
In his opinion, the general scheme of perception of the roles of the Russian media abroad is as follows: “TASS is the information service of the power vertical, reports on decisions made by the authorities; Interfax is an agency that provides information in a neutral way, expanding and supplementing the picture displayed by state agencies, with a focus on economics and business; Meduza is an opposition media outlet, which in the Western interpretation means ‘independent’, presenting materials in a style critical of the Russian authorities.”
According to Aleksandr Kupriyanov, Head of the HSE Media Communications Education Program, the rather low level of citation of media-foreign agents is of interest. “It was relatively peaceful time, and we felt the crisis of news agencies, their product. And now we see a powerful renaissance, the return of confidence in the news format,” he said.
In turn, Aleksey Firsov, founder of the “Platforma” social forecasting centre and Vice-President of the Russian Association for Public Relations, said that there is “no sensation” in the growth of citation itself, because since February the number of publications about Russia has increased in general, and the standards of Western journalism involves quoting the other side. In his opinion, the results of the study indicate a demand for the journalism of fact, and not for the journalism of interpretation, the overabundance of which has been felt lately.
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