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Working paper

Coverage of Three Tragedies in the Russian Media: Application of the Network Agenda Model

December 19, 2016, saw three tragedies simultaneously, that could not go unnoticed by the Russian media: dozens of people died as a result of a surrogate alcohol poisoning in Irkutsk, a Russian ambassador was killed in Turkey, and a terrorist attack took place at the Christmas market in Berlin. In this article using the network agenda theory we analyze how these tragedies were covered by various types of mass media: on 11 federal TV channels, in 1,974 print newspapers, in 34,905 online newspapers and 2,574 blogs. We believe that direct and indirect control of the agenda by the state can be exercised by creating a network of events that will canalize correctly discussions about tragedies. We showed that ties between the tragedy and a network of other acute issues are more important than objective circumstances, such as the number of victims or a geography of the event. The context in which the events were looked at led to greater attention to the killing of the ambassador and less attention to surrogate alcohol poisoning. The Russian mass media paid significantly less attention to the Berlin terror attack, it yet was used as a supplement to the demonstration of importance of the fight against terrorism.