Russian Media in the Digital Age: Propaganda Rewired

In: Russian Politics
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Maryland

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


This article reflects on the role of media in the Russian Federation through the concept of “rewired propaganda.” The approach highlights how the Russian regime copes with challenges to its information hegemony in the digital age. The study employs two critical case studies to examine the Russian political communication sphere: the 2011–12 election protests and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by a Russian missile in 2014. The article argues that a key vector of analysis is understanding strategic narrative as the critical measurement of media control. The findings suggests that it is not so much who owns or controls the media that is key to understanding information control; rather, it is knowing who is constructing and disseminating the most compelling national narrative that holds the key to power in Russia. This focus on rewired propaganda and recasting of the debate will permit an analysis of the role of the media in the post-Soviet state even as the overall media environment has shifted with the advent of the digital age. On balance, the two case studies demonstrate that Russian elites have continued to adapt to growing challenges, showing an ability to use many facets of communication to consolidate an information dominance over citizens.

  • 6

    Evgeny Morozov, The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate the World. (London: Allen Lane/Penguin, 2011).

  • 7

    Philip N. Howard, The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Information Technology and Political Islam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 14

    Svetlana Pasti, “Two Generations of Contemporary Russian Journalists”, European Journal of Communication 20, no. 1 (2005): 89–115; Katrin Voltmer, “Constructing Political Reality in Russia: Izvestiya – Between Old and New Journalistic Practices,” European Journal of Communication 15, no. 4 (2000): 469–500.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16

    Sarah Oates, Revolution Stalled: The Politics Limits of the Internet in the Post-Soviet Sphere (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 21

    Sarah Oates, Television, Elections and Democracy in Russia (London: Routledge, 2006).

  • 36

    Regina Smyth and Sarah Oates, “Minding the Gap: Lessons on the Relationship among the Internet, Information, and Regime Challenge from Russian Protests”, Europe-Asia Studies 67, no. 2 (2015): 285–305.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 51

    Shanto Iyengar, Is Anyone Responsible? How Television Frames Political Issues (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991).

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 811 520 70
Full Text Views 445 124 7
PDF Downloads 180 92 5