Освещение выборов в Казахстане и Украине российскими СМИ
Manifestations of political bias in media coverage of political events abroad, despite a large volume of research, have been modestly investigated in two aspects. First, relevant studies nearly never examined how such coverage might be affected by conflicts between the countries whose media are studied and the countries covered by these media, as compared to non-conflict configurations. Second, systematic bias is usually seen as an attribute of a country’s media system as a whole, without attempts to investigate differences between certain media types within the same country. In this work we make a first step to cover these gaps by studying how framing of elections in a country that has no conflict with Russia (Kazakhstan) and a country that does have such conflict (Ukraine) varies in different types of the Russian media: those controlled by the state, liberal-oppositional and politically neutral. For this purpose, 30 popular online news outlets have been selected and divided into the three aforementioned types by experts. From the complete population of news published in these media, we formed a sample of 792 news items devoted to the presidential elections in Ukraine in Kazakhstan, so that all three media types would be equally represented. All news were labeled into one of three framing types: pro-government, liberal and neutral. Prevalence of one of the extreme framing types in a given group of media was considered as a manifestation of systematic bias. The research has shown that pro-government bias is observed only in one, albeit dominant, group of media outlets – those controlled by the state. In the other two groups it is the neutral frame that is prevailing, which suggests that a large fraction of the Russian audience has access to a non-pro-government way of framing international political events. However, coverage of Ukrainian and Kazakhstan elections has been found visibly different. In the coverage of Ukraine, the distribution of shares of all three frame types in all three groups of media is shifted in the pro-government direction compared to the coverage of Kazakhstan. Simultaneously, texts by the oppositional media about Kazakhstan turn out to be the only group of news where liberal frame prevails (and, therefore, the liberal bias is observed). Thus the coverage of a non-conflict country appears to be more polarized than that of a country which has a conflict with the country of the studied media. A number of interpretations for this observation is given in the paper.