New gatekeepers in town: How groups in social networking sites influence information flows in Russia’s provinces
The study focuses upon ‘city public groups’ (‘gorodskie pabliki’, local newsgroups on social networking sites) – the new entrants in the local media space of the Russian province that have recently become important actors of regional public communication. Such groups combine news posting and citizen discussions, report on local affairs and gossip, and entertain. Some groups are based on user-generated content; others create their own content or act as aggregators. Being non-registered and grassroots initiatives, these media enjoy higher freedom in comparison to official local newsrooms.
Given the popularity of city public groups among local citizens and local authorities’ interest toward them, owners and moderators of these media are playing an influential role for local mediated discourse. Based on the gatekeeping theory and its extensions for digital space, this paper explores the emerging roles of these new gatekeepers in the local communities. Based upon 28 in-depth interviews collected by the author in Russian towns in 2017 to 2018, the paper also analyses the professional norms and values of the owners and moderators of local city groups that they employ to perform their gatekeeping function.
This paper suggests that Soviet communicative control was based on a particular balance between the manipulation of mass communication (propaganda) and restriction of interpersonal communication and particular elements of social mobility control (e.g. transport, postal communication and population localization). This particular balance formed a quite stable social structure in which social communications reinforced the state order and hierarchy. We argue that, to a great extent, some elements of this Soviet system of control are reproduced in the current Russian media and social system that has formed a passive attitude towards digital activism and to political life in general among the population. This phenomenon has significantly influenced the contemporary post-Crimean social consensus and caused the failure of the protest movement at the first half of 2010s, which was largely dependent on social media.
This paper suggests that media piracy in Russia is a cultural phenomenon caused largely by long-standing state ideological pressures. It also questions the common approach that considers the issue of piracy in economic or legal terms. In Russia, piracy historically concerns not only copyright issues but also censoring practices, and the sharing of pirated content is a socially acceptable remnant of Soviet times. This paper uses an institutional approach to show how anti-copyright state policy was used in the Soviet time to curtail the freedom of speech. Analysis of the new anti-piracy law reveals that current state policy intended to protect copyright may also be used to control content; moreover, this analysis concludes that the new policy is not likely to curb piracy.
This paper investigates the relationship between the Russian government and mass media businesses. With the state ownership monopoly in the past, transitioning countries do not have evolutionary experience of enforcing corporate law, transparency or protecting minority shareholder rights, and balanced response to stakeholder interests. These represent formal valuable instruments of formal economy. We examine Russia’s recent developments in ownership structure in mass media industries based on insider information – semi-structured interviews with owners and/or top managers of mass media companies from Russian regions, capital cities, and also freelancers who are not affiliated with traditional media companies. With consensus to principles of democratic developments, the share of the state ownership and non-related businesses in Russia’s mass media capital decreased dramatically. Does it mean that mass media companies are becoming independent from the state and oligarchs? We argue that it is still far from being true, and informal pressures and controls over mass media have been developed and are widely used in Russia. We state that loyalty to state/municipal/regional powers (lobbying of their interests) helps these companies to compete against “independent” media. This erosion of principles of independence of mass media in Russia is the result of a corrupted governance model.
The chapter explores the difficult search for legitimacy in using unlicensed media content by the Russian social network, VKontakte, and other Russian Internet companies. Russia’s economy and society went through several stages, from complete negligence of intellectual rights to step-by-step shaping of new compromise principles to make consumers to pay at least something and to persuade right holder to accept at least something for music. For a better understanding of the cultural background of this story, we look back to the evolution of Russian intellectual property rights and observe similar “legitimacy of the illegal” phenomenon during several stages of its development. Two important generalizations are: (1) when deciding to act illegally, the actor wants to maximize the happiness of its most important stakeholders, and (2) the decision to change the business model and search for new legitimacy almost never comes from moral arguments, but is always made under external pressure.
This chapter analyses the evolution of the relationship between centralized control over local media media systems and local interests at the regional level in Russia. It demonstrates that during the post-soviet period the soviet hierarchical control was reproduced as a result of the dominance of the so called “central media” over the regional media. As the political balance between federal and regional powers evolved, so did the model of media control. From this point of view the local policy during Yeltsin’s period was shaped by the shift of power from the centre, allowing the regions to develop high levels of autonomy. This transformed local media into powerful agents of local politics and contributed to the high pressure on local media from different political and elite groups. Such pressures paradoxically formed more pluralist model of the press. After 2000 the power of local media was weakened, which dissociated retired local media from elite group political processes and contributed to the monopolization of local media by local authorities especially on the basis of commercial contracts between such authorities and the press. Such contracts shape considerably the control of local media by the local authorities paying media for loyal coverage of their policies.
This article argues that we need to be more cautious with the dichotomy between “corporate” and “alternative” media widely accepted within critical media studies. This division can be misleading, especially if applied to non-Western societies. I explicate my argument using the case study of the Russian alternative radio station, Echo of Moscow, and analyzing its coverage of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests. My research is based on a qualitative content analysis of 73 hard news pieces on OWS that Echo of Moscow released from September 17 to November 18, 2011. The results of my analysis show that Echo’s framing of the OWS was typical “protest paradigm” framing, which corporate media usually employ when covering social protests.
The article is devoted to the problem of communicative features of the constructive structure of the font identity in the city branding sphere. This problem is considered in the framework of the nonlinearity of visual communication based on typology, comparative and structural analysis of the font identity of the world's cities. The article analyzes the brand identity of the city of Murmansk (2015) with the use of qualitative research methods: an expert interview with the designer of Murmansk identity.
This paper explores, mainly from a legal perspective, the extent to which the Russian regulations of traditional TV and online audiovisual media policies have been consistent with the Council of Europe (hereinafter CoE) standards. The study compares between the CoE and Russian approaches to specific aspects of audiovisual regulation including licensing, media ownership, public service media, digitalization, and national production. The paper first studies the CoE perspective through examining its conventional provisions related to audiovisual media, the case law of the European Court of Human Rights as well as the CoE non-binding documents. The paper then considers Russian national legislation governing audiovisual media and the Russian general jurisdiction courts’ practice on broadcast licensing. The paper suggests that the Russian audiovisual regulations are insufficiently compatible with the CoE standards and more in line with the Soviet regulatory traditions.
Systems Thinking in Museums explores systems thinking and the practical implication of it using real-life museum examples to illuminate various entry points and stages of implementation and their challenges and opportunities. Its premise is that museums can be better off when they operate as open, dynamic, and learning systems as a whole as opposed to closed, stagnant, and status quo systems that are compartmentalized and hierarchical. This book also suggests ways to incorporate systems thinking based on reflective questions and steps with hopes to encourage museum professionals to employ systems thinking in their own museum. Few books explore theory in practice in meaningful and applicable ways; this book offers to unravel complex theories as applied in everyday practice through examples from national and international museums.