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Working paper

Agenda Divergence in a Developing Conflict: A Quantitative Evidence from a Ukrainian and a Russian TV Newsfeeds

Although conflict representation in media has been widely studied, few attempts have been made to perform large-scale comparisons of agendas in the media of conflicting parties, especially for armed country-level confrontations. In this paper, we introduce quantitative evidence of agenda divergence between the media of conflicting parties in the course of the Ukrainian crisis 2013-2014. Using 45,000 messages from the online newsfeeds of a Russian and a Ukrainian TV channels, we perform topic modelling coupled with qualitative analysis to reveal crisis-related topics, assess their salience and map evolution of attention of both channels to each of those topics. We find that the two channels produce fundamentally different agenda sequences: in particular, while the Russian channel pays little attention to confrontation between the Ukrainian government and the opposition before the regime change, the Ukrainian channel is less inclined to cover armed violence in East Ukraine and refugees after the regime change.