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Measuring news bias: Russia’s official news agency ITAR-TASS’ coverage of the Ukraine crisis


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Objectivity in news reporting is one of the most widely discussed topics in journalism, and a number of studies on bias in news have been conducted, but there is little agreement on how to define or measure news bias. Aiming to settle the theoretical and methodological disagreement, the author redefined news bias and applied a new methodology to detect the Russian government’s influence on ITAR-TASS during the Ukraine crisis. A longitudinal content analysis of over 35,000 English-language newswires on the Ukraine crisis published by ITAR-TASS and Interfax clearly showed that ITAR-TASS’ framing of Ukraine was reflecting desirability of pivotal events in the crisis to the Russian government. This result reveals Russia’s strategic use of the state-owned news agency for international propaganda in its ‘hybrid war’, demonstrating the effectiveness of the new approach to news bias.
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DOI: 10.1177/0267323117695735
Measuring news bias: Russia’s
official news agency
ITAR-TASS’ coverage of
the Ukraine crisis
Kohei Watanabe
The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), UK
Objectivity in news reporting is one of the most widely discussed topics in journalism, and a
number of studies on bias in news have been conducted, but there is little agreement on how to
define or measure news bias. Aiming to settle the theoretical and methodological disagreement,
the author redefined news bias and applied a new methodology to detect the Russian government’s
influence on ITAR-TASS during the Ukraine crisis. A longitudinal content analysis of over 35,000
English-language newswires on the Ukraine crisis published by ITAR-TASS and Interfax clearly
showed that ITAR-TASS’ framing of Ukraine was reflecting desirability of pivotal events in the
crisis to the Russian government. This result reveals Russia’s strategic use of the state-owned
news agency for international propaganda in its ‘hybrid war’, demonstrating the effectiveness of
the new approach to news bias.
Computerized-content analysis, news bias, propaganda, Russia, Ukraine crisis
There is almost unanimous agreement on the importance of independent journalism
among scholars of mass communication, and objectivity in news reporting is one of the
most widely discussed topics in journalism (Barkho, 2013b; Donsbach and Klett, 1993;
Maras, 2012). The independence of journalists is a precondition for objective news
reporting (Barkho, 2013a). Importantly, journalistic independence provides objective, or
unbiased, political information allowing for effective democracy, constrains the power of
the mass media and maintains the trust of the public in mass media (Maras, 2012).
Corresponding author:
Kohei Watanabe, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Houghton Street, London
695735EJC0010.1177/0267323117695735European Journal of Communication 00(0)Watanabe
Full Length Article
2 European Journal of Communication 00(0)
Furthermore, biased news reporting leads to the marginalization of certain social groups,
misperceptions of political agendas and public disenchantment and cynicism
(Brandenburg, 2005). Researchers have embarked on empirical studies of bias in news
on elections (Brandenburg, 2005; Hopmann et al., 2011; Kahn and Kenney, 2002;
Robinson and Sheehan, 1983), wars (Aday, 2010; Aday et al., 2005; Dickson, 1994;
Entman and Page, 1994; Pfau et al., 2004) and foreign countries (Chaudhary, 2001;
Jones, 2008; Meyer, 1989; Miller, 2007), but there is little agreement on how to define or
measure news bias.
In the empirical studies, one school of thought defines the lack of objectivity in
news as unbalanced coverage of different subjects (Brandenburg, 2005; Cushion et al.,
2009; D’Alessio and Allen, 2000; Dominick, 1977; Hopmann et al., 2012). Within this
conception of news bias, researchers focus on the sheer number of articles and the
length of airtime allocated to certain issues, events or actors. Other groups of research-
ers pay attention to tones of news reports, using metrics such as ‘positive-negative’
(Aday, 2010; Brandenburg, 2005; Hopmann et al., 2012; Pfau et al., 2004; Robinson
and Sheehan, 1983), ‘favourable-unfavourable’ (e.g. Hofstetter, 1976) or ‘supportive-
critical’ (Aday et al., 2005; Entman and Page, 1994; Kleinnijenhuis et al., 2007). In this
approach, news reporting with predominantly positive or negative tones is considered
to be biased.
The definition of news bias must be operationalizable in empirical inquiries, but it
should also be based on the theories of media effect. Agenda-setting theory suggests
that the amount of news coverage allocated to certain issues, events or actors influ-
ences their perceived importance among audiences (‘what to think about’) (Besova
and Cooley, 2009; Hester and Gibson, 2003; McCombs et al., 1997; Salwen and
Matera, 1992; Wanta et al., 2004), but if our primary interest is investigating the mass
media’s role in shaping news audiences’ attitudes towards subjects (‘how to think’), we
must scrutinize the ways those subjects are represented in news reporting. According
to the theory of second-level agenda-setting, or priming, news reporting focusing on
negative or positive aspects of events, issues and actors has a significant impact on an
audience’s attitude towards them (Entman, 1993; Hester and Gibson, 2003; Iyengar
and Simon, 1993; McCombs et al., 1997). The concept of media framing, which is
defined as ‘selecting and highlighting some faces of events or issues, and making con-
nections among them so as to promote a particular interpretation, evaluation and/or
solution’ (Entman, 2004: 5), also establishes a link between news reporting and peo-
ple’s understanding of public affairs.
Selective media frames manifest as unbalanced tones of news stories, which become
either positive or negative when they concern events, favourable or unfavourable when
they concern opinions, or supportive or critical when they concern policy options.
However, not all news stories with a predominantly positive or negative tone can be
considered biased because tone can be a simple reflection of objective reality, that is,
tones of news reports will be profoundly negative when stories describe inherently nega-
tive events, such as natural disasters, armed conflicts and social disruptions, as Stevenson
(1984) correctly points out in negative representation of the under-developed countries
in foreign news. Also, tones become overwhelmingly supportive of the status quo when
disagreement among political elites is absent (e.g. the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks), as
Watanabe 3
Bennett’s (1990) index theory suggests. The reflection of objective reality in the tones of
news reporting poses methodological challenges in measuring news bias. Entman (2007),
who is agnostic regarding objective reality, has even proposed an approach to news bias
focusing only on the balanced coverage of different aspects of events, issues or groups.1
This methodological challenge has constrained how news bias has been defined and
measured in earlier empirical studies. The adoption of concepts such as ‘balance’ and
‘fairness’ as proxies to objectivity has been a common practice among researchers, as
well as regulators, because of the difficulty in measuring objectivity itself (Maras, 2012).
The Fairness Doctrine of the Federal Communication Commission, which required
American broadcasters to produce ‘balanced’ news reporting on public agendas between
1949 and 1987, has strongly affected the concept of news bias in scholarly debates, but
‘balance’ in news reporting is not so obvious in countries where the political landscape
is more complex and the simple 50-50 benchmark derived from the US two-party system
does not hold (Hopmann et al., 2012). Some researchers of European media have resorted
to benchmarks constructed based on the number of seats political parties hold in legisla-
tures (Brandenburg, 2005), but it seems unrealistic to expect equal coverage of political
groups in polarized media systems where partisan journalism is the norm. As a result of
this, empirical studies on news bias have concentrated in the United States.
Aiming to facilitate empirical studies on news bias in complex media systems, I pre-
sent a new approach to measuring news bias, taking Russia’s official news agency ITAR-
TASS’ English-language news coverage of the Ukraine crisis as an example. My case
selection was motivated not only by the significance of the crisis in Europe to interna-
tional politics but also by the severity of the above-mentioned methodological chal-
lenges; in this case, the challenges were made particularly severe by a rapidly changing
situation on the ground and a lack of non-media benchmarks with which to assess bal-
ance in the news coverage. In my approach to news bias, I will conceptualize objectivity
in news reporting as coverage of all possible newsworthy stories, and analyse ITAR-
TASS’ news coverage in relation to Interfax’s broader news coverage. In this setting,
Interfax serves as a benchmark unit, which helps us to measure bias in ITAR-TASS’
news reporting caused by the Russian government’s influence excluding the effects of
the inherently positive or negative nature of the events on the ground. I estimated the
amount of bias in ITAR-TASS’ news reporting using longitudinal data, which I produced
by content analysing all the news stories on Ukraine published by the two news agencies
over a 16-month period starting from January 2013.
My statistical analysis of the longitudinal data will clearly show that ITAR-TASS’
framing of democracy and sovereignty in Ukraine is systematically biased during the
crisis corresponding to the desirability of the situation in Ukraine for the Russian
regime. The main causes of bias were (1) highly critical comments made by Russian
officials on Ukraine, which the news agency quotes very frequently, and (2) profoundly
negative descriptions of events related to Ukraine by the news agency. However, ITAR-
TASS’ news articles tend to present the Russian government’s views on Ukraine in an
‘objective’ style of writing, blurring the distinction between opinions and facts. The
systematic bias in ITAR-TASS’ news coverage of the Ukraine suggests the importance
of ITAR-TASS in Russia’s ‘hybrid wars’, which utilizes non-military means to achieve
military goals.
4 European Journal of Communication 00(0)
ITAR-TASS is a prominent example of a state-owned news agency. Its roots can be
traced back to the imperial era, when the first Russian news agency, the Russian Telegraph
Agency (RTA), was created by the tsar in 1866. The operation of the first news agency
was limited to domestic clients, but a more international agency, the St. Petersburg
Telegraph Agency, was established by the government in 1904 to overcome Russia’s
dependence on the German news agency, Wolf, for the international distribution of news.
After the 1917 October Bolshevik revolution, newspapers and magazines were obliged
to publish information received from a new central news agency, ROSTA, which inte-
grated all national and regional information agencies, and later became the Telegraph
Agency of the Soviet Union, known as TASS. This news agency was directly controlled
by the state and often used for propaganda during the Soviet era. According to Vartanova
and Frolova (2010), ‘TASS was different from other international agencies in that it
acted as a voice of the Soviet government which tended to speak to the peoples of the
world through its official spokesmen’ (p. 264). TASS survived the collapse of the Soviet
Union and was subsequently renamed ITAR-TASS.2 Today, it is the official news agency
of the Russian Federation and owned and administered by the government, enjoying
exclusive access to official information.
The influence of the Russian government as the owner of the news agency alone
might have caused bias in its news reporting of the Ukraine crisis, in which Russia has
vested interests, but it is also important to note that the general level of press freedom and
the journalistic culture in Russia are very different from those of Western countries. The
media system of Russia is characterized as Polarized model, in which journalists practise
partisan reporting, commercial news media experience frequent state interventions and
media figures are integrated into the elite political network (Dobek-Ostrowska and De
Smaele, 2010; Vartanova, 2011). This limited press freedom and partisan journalism in
Russia is expected to increase the degree to which ITAR-TASS reflects the wishes of
Russia’s political elites, and therefore, I expect to find consistent patterns in the framing
of mediated communication that promote the influence of Russia on Ukraine, which
indicates an existence of bias in ITAR-TASS’ news caused by the Russian government’s
influence.3 In fact, Horvit (2006), in his research on news agencies’ framing of the
debates around the US-led intervention into Iraq in 2003, found that 54% of the ITAR-
TASS stories sourced Russian government officials, and 53% of the paragraphs in its
stories were negative towards US policy. His finding predicts that the ITAR-TASS fram-
ing of the Ukraine crisis will reflect the desirability of pivotal events to the Russian
government, and therefore, I formulate my first two hypotheses:
H1. ITAR-TASS’ framing of the Ukraine crisis will become more positive when the
situation in Ukraine is desirable to the Russian government.
H2. ITAR-TASS’ framing of the Ukraine crisis will become more negative when the
situation in Ukraine is undesirable to the Russian government.
Although the literature details theory largely based on studies of the news coverage of
elections, wars or foreign countries by retail news media (such as newspapers or TV), I
Watanabe 5
adopt this theoretical framework as a starting point, aiming to identify necessary changes
for wholesale news media (news agencies). D’Alessio and Allen (2000) identified three
types of bias in news reporting in their meta-analysis of election studies: ‘coverage bias’,
‘gatekeeping bias’ and ‘statement bias’. According to their definitions, coverage bias
stems from unbalanced amounts of news coverage allocated to particular subjects; gate-
keeping bias is a result of selection or deselection of particular kinds of stories; and state-
ment bias is caused by inclusion of journalists’ opinions. Coverage bias is expected to
increase the salience of a particular country for the international audience as concen-
trated media coverage has an agenda-setting effect; both gatekeeping and statement bias
are likely to cause attitude changes among audiences because the arbitrary selection of
stories and insertion of opinions have a second-level agenda-setting effect.
Considering ITAR-TASS’ status as an official news agency, I expect to find gatekeep-
ing bias caused by the prioritization of Russian official sources in its coverage of the
Ukraine crisis. Therefore, my third hypothesis is as follows:
H3. Bias in ITAR-TASS’ reporting of Ukraine is caused by high representation of
Russian government officials in its stories.
However, it is unlikely to find personal opinions in ITAR-TASS’ news coverage
because it adopts the ‘objective’ style of writing in newswires. Alternatively, I expect to
find ‘corporate bias’, in other words, one driven by the ideological, social and political
orientations of media organizations (Barkho, 2013a). This is as opposed to ‘personal
bias’, which would derive from the educational, religious, economic or racial back-
ground of individual journalists. Therefore, my fourth hypothesis is as follows:
H4. Bias in ITAR-TASS’ reporting of Ukraine is caused by its corporate views on
Ukraine, but not by the personal views of the journalists.
In the studies on news coverage of national politics in the United States, unbalanced
volumes or tones of news stories were seen as indications of news bias, but such an
approach is not appropriate in measuring bias in ITAR-TASS’ news reporting of the
Ukraine crisis because (1) there is no ground to expect ITAR-TASS to cover different
sides of the conflict equally (i.e. Russian news agencies more likely to report the Russian
government’s views sympathetically, even without the influence of the Russian govern-
ment, because of their greater access to Russian sources and Russians’ psychological
attachment to the country), and (2) the rapidly changing situation on the ground affects
the tones of news reporting (i.e. a more negative tone in a story might be caused merely
by occurrences of more inherently negative events, such as violence confrontations or
social disruptions, not by it being negatively framed intentionally).
In order to overcome these problems, Interfax, a Russian news agency that is inde-
pendent from the Russian state (Boyd-Barrett, 2014), is included in the analysis as a
benchmark unit. Interfax was founded in a radio station in Moscow independently of the
government in the last days of the Soviet Union. Operating as a commercial enterprise,
6 European Journal of Communication 00(0)
it generates a significant portion of its revenues from its economic news service.
According to earlier studies, 85% of Interfax clients consisted of banks and financial
enterprises, 10% insurance and audit companies and 5% privatized enterprise; it has
developed a wide range of products that include providing electronic financial informa-
tion and analytical reports and has become a leading supplier of information on Russia
and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. Thanks to its successful
commercial operation, Interfax maintains a high level of independence from the Russian
government (Boyd-Barrett, 2012; Rantanen and Boyd-Barrett, 2004; Vartanova and
Frolova, 2010).
I can identify bias caused by the Russian government’s influence (‘state-ownership
effect’) while excluding the effect of ITAR-TASS being based in Russia (‘home-country
effect’) by using Interfax as a benchmark unit. This benchmarking also allows us to con-
trol for inherently negative or positive events that affect news content of ITAR-TASS
(‘real-event effect’). In this approach, I focus on changes in ITAR-TASS’ news coverage
relative to Interfax’s corresponding coverage, and relative changes after pivotal events are
treated as bias caused by the influence of the Russian government. This is an application
of the difference-in-differences technique, which is widely used in econometrics to esti-
mate the impact of policy interventions (cf. Card and Krueger, 1994), although it is much
more limited for a number of reasons. First, I cannot assume a high stability in benchmark
units (media outlets) in studies of media since the spread of information is much less
restricted than it is in policy interventions. Second, I often cannot find multiple bench-
mark units on which to base my statistical estimation of the uncertainty of observed news
bias: this is because there are few media outlets comparable to those in which I am inter-
ested. Third, the occurrence of media bias can proceed pivotal events when they are pre-
dictable (staged events). However, unlike other social scientists, who only have access to
numeric data, I can scrutinize original texts produced by the news media and supplement
the quantitative data with rich textual information to overcome the limitations.
Pivotal events
In the early days of the crisis, there were events with which I can relatively easily associ-
ate Russia’s political interests, but as soon as the fight between Kiev’s military forces and
separatists began, the Russian regime’s wishes became increasingly obscure. Therefore,
I restricted my analysis to the period from 1 January 2013 to 21 April 2014, the day
before the Kiev government relaunched its anti-separatist operations. Table 1 presents
pivotal events in the Ukraine crisis with their desirability to the Russian regime.4
Data collection
For my content analysis, I downloaded the English-language news stories covering Russia
and CIS countries published by ITAR-TASS and Interfax, respectively, from the Nexis
and Integrum databases between 2013 and 2014.5 I collected 103,236 stories for Interfax
and 87,725 for ITAR-TASS, after removing duplications. I also downloaded 21,718
Reuters reports from the Factiva on Ukraine, but they were used solely for manual reading
and dictionary construction, as explained in Section 2 in the online appendix.6
Watanabe 7
Content analysis
To perform a statistical analysis of news reporting by the news agencies, I content ana-
lysed the downloaded news stories in terms of their geographical focus and positive–
negative framing of the state of democracy and sovereignty in Ukraine. Both geographical
classification and framing analysis were accomplished by employing computerized con-
tent analysis, which relies on dictionaries constructed by lexicon expansion techniques
(cf. Pang and Lee, 2008; Turney and Littman, 2003). The geographical dictionary com-
prises not only names of places but also of institutions and persons related to the crisis
for a higher classification accuracy. The framing dictionaries contain words related to
democracy and sovereignty and scored in terms of their positive–negative sentiments.
Construction of these dictionaries was based on statistical analysis of the corpus of news
stories that I downloaded to avoid arbitrary choices of words.
The adoption of computerized techniques is not only for efficiency in analysing the
large volume of news stories published over 16 months but also for consistency, which is
usually difficult for human coders to achieve. The geographical classifier removed
almost all the news articles not about Ukraine, accomplishing .94 in precision and .83 in
recall. The framing analysis could replicate human judgements, achieving strong correla-
tion between machine and human coding both in democracy (r = .77) and in sovereignty
(r = .70) (see Online Appendix 2 for detailed explanation and validation of the computer-
ized method).
Statistical model
To estimate news bias in ITAR-TASS’ news reporting, the continuous sentiment scores
(Y) were regressed on indicators for time period following the pivotal events
a dummy variable for ITAR-TASS
g and their interactions
eg eg
with a random
u clustered by day
Table 1. Pivotal events in the early stage of the Ukraine crisis.
Date Label Event Desirability
3 September 2013 E1 Yanukovych demands legal reforms to
MPs for EU association plan
21 November 2013 E2 The trade agreement with the EU is
abandoned by Yanukovych
16 January 2014 E3 Protest against the pro-Russian regime
in Kiev intensifies
22 February 2014 E4 Yanukovych is removed from
presidency by the parliament
16 March 2014 E5 Crimea referendum is held and 95%
support accession
15 April 2014 E6 Military operations against separatists
are launched
MP: member of parliament; EU: European Union.
8 European Journal of Communication 00(0)
Yeegeg eg u=+ ++ ++ ++++
ββ βδγγ
The inclusion of random intercept is to accurately estimate differences between
ITAR-TASS and Interfax by controlling for variance caused by time-dependent hetero-
geneity. In this model,
captures time-independent institutional heterogeneity,
are real-event effects and the coefficients
are Russian government-ownership
effects, in which I am most interested.
The data produced by my content analysis is visualized in Figures 1 and 2, where red
circles represent sentiment scores of individual ITAR-TASS news articles, and black and
red curves, respectively, show average sentiment scores of news articles published by
Interfax and ITAR-TASS. The average sentiment scores are interpreted as representing
the positive–negative framing of democracy and sovereignty in Ukraine by the Russian
agencies at particular points of time during the crisis.
In Figure 1, the red curve runs higher than and parallel to the black line before E1,
showing that the framing of Ukraine’s democracy was normally more positive by ITAR-
TASS than by Interfax. However, ITAR-TASS’ coverage shifts towards negative after
E1, when the president called for legal reforms to join the European Union (EU), but it
returns to the normal level of positivity relative to Interfax over E2-E3, following the
abandonment of the trade agreement with the EU. A sharp negative shift occurs after E3,
and its framing becomes almost as negative as Interfax’s over E4–E5. Finally, its framing
moves sharply negative after E5, reaching peak negativity around E6, coinciding with
the launch of the anti-separatist operation by the Kiev government.
In Figure 2, the difference in the framing of sovereignty between ITAR-TASS and
Interfax over E1–E2 remains approximately the same as the pre-E1 period. A negative
shift of framing starts only after E2, and the relatively positive framing by ITAR-TASS
disappears in E3–E4, when the anti-government protests intensify in Kiev. Nevertheless,
its framing rapidly improves from E4 towards E5 when the Crimean referendum was
held, but it, again, becomes as negative as Interfax after E6.
Amount of bias
The amount of bias in the framing of the Ukraine crisis by ITAR-TASS was estimated
using the statistical model, the results being presented in Table 2. In the table, the most
important coefficients are found next to the interactions between the time indicators
(E1–E6) and the dummy variable for ITAR-TASS (TASS), which measures effects of
Russian government’s ownership. The estimated state-ownership bias is also summa-
rized in Figure 3 with 95% confidence intervals.
As summarized in Figure 3, ITAR-TASS’ coverage of democracy in Ukraine becomes
statistically significantly more negative (−31.7, p < .05) than during pre-crisis after
Yanukovych’s speech (E1), indicating the Russian government’s influence on ITAR-
TASS. Its framing of Ukraine then becomes as positive as the pre-crisis period after the
abandonment of negotiation (E2). The change following the intensified anti-regime
Watanabe 9
−100 −50 050 100
Sentiment score
FebMar AprMay JunJul AugSep OctNov DecJan
FebMar Apr
E1 E2 E3 E4 E5 E6
Figure 1. Framing of democracy.
10 European Journal of Communication 00(0)
−100 −500 50 100
Sentiment score
FebMar AprMay JunJul AugSep OctNov DecJan
FebMar Apr
E1 E2 E3 E4 E5 E6
Figure 2. Framing of sovereignty.
Watanabe 11
protest (E3) is only marginal (−16.7, p = .054), but the collapse of the regime (E4) (−29.5,
p < .01) and Crimea referendum (E5) (−38.2, p < .01) is strongly significant. The framing
of democracy in Ukraine becomes increasingly negative, reaching −52.3 points (p < .01)
after the start of anti-separatist military operations (E6). This result clearly shows that all
the events, other than E5, are followed by changes in framing towards the same direction
as predicted by their desirability for the Russia regime.
ITAR-TASS’ framing of sovereignty becomes significantly negative (−32.2, p < .01)
only after anti-regime protests intensify (E3) because earlier events did not have serious
implications for Ukraine’s sovereignty. Framing starts shifting towards the positive
(−24.7, p < .05) from the collapse of the regime (E4) and then negativity completely dis-
appears (p = .21) after the Crimea referendum (E5), but Kiev’s military operations against
pro-Russian separatists (E6) brings it to the most negative level (−48.7, p < .01). These
changes also match the patterns that the author expected based on the desirability of
events for the Russian government.7
Source of bias
The statements of Russian officials frequently quoted in ITAR-TASS’ news articles are
one of the main sources of bias. In my statistical analysis, a dummy variable for mentions
of Russian entities (Russia in Table 2) created from the secondary-country category by
the geographical classifier shows that articles mentioning Russian entities are 23.6 points
(p < .01) more negative about the democracy in Ukraine, and higher proportions of quotes
in articles (Quote in Table 2) lead to more negative framing of the country (β = −70.0,
p < .01). The effect of mentions of Russian entities also appeared to be statistically sig-
nificantly negative (β = −18.7, p < .01) on framing of sovereignty (Model 5), but propor-
tions of quotations have no significant effects in this subject (p = .64). Yet, further
exploration of the data revealed that quadratic terms of the proportions (Quote2) have
very strongly significant effects in both democracy (β = −41.8, p < .01 in Model 3) and
sovereignty (β = −105.2, p < .01 in Model 6).
Figure 4 presents sentiment scores predicted by the Models 3 and 6 for news articles
which mentioned Russian entities and were published by ITAR-TASS after E6. These arti-
cles clearly show a non-linear association between sentiment scores and proportions of
quotations, which suggests that there are, at least, three types of biased news stories. The
first type simply describes situations regarding democracy and sovereignty in Ukraine
negatively with little or no quotation of sources (less than 30% of wordage), while the
second largely relies on negative comments on Ukraine made by Russian officials or pro-
Russian Ukraine leaders (more than 70%). In the third type, relatively positive comments
on Ukraine made by foreign actors, who are important in stories on sovereignty, are quoted
(30–70%), but these are followed by very negative descriptions of the situation in the coun-
try, which are barely relevant to the quotes, to make the overall framing in the news articles
more negative (examples of these three types are presented in Online Appendix 5).
In my analysis of the framing of democracy and sovereignty in Ukraine by ITAR-
TASS’ English-language service, I found that the news agency’s framing reflected the
12 European Journal of Communication 00(0)
Table 2. Framing of the Ukraine crisis by ITAR-TASS.
Dependent variable
Democracy Sovereignty
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
TASS 31.033*** (6.953) 22.735*** (6.946) 22.416*** (6.943) 34.783*** (9.695) 27.411*** (9.954) 27.231*** (9.910)
E1 14.575** (6.655) 17.458*** (6.525) 17.663*** (6.517) 16.757* (8.916) 20.562** (8.949) 20.538** (8.874)
E2 −42.680*** (6.007) −40.624*** (5.920) −40.111*** (5.913) −19.738** (7.990) −19.243** (8.012) −18.363** (7.928)
E3 −45.593*** (5.883) −45.494*** (5.828) −44.906*** (5.821) −27.975*** (8.108) −30.279*** (8.149) −29.495*** (8.053)
E4 −24.071*** (6.628) −16.678** (6.560) −15.750** (6.554) −4.876 (8.844) −2.373 (8.895) −0.714 (8.780)
E5 −17.029*** (6.492) −7.679 (6.467) −7.175 (6.458) −16.221* (8.511) −10.020 (8.624) −10.128 (8.518)
E6 −27.771** (11.119) −15.346 (11.047) −14.695 (11.027) −19.681 (14.534) −12.285 (14.658) −11.271 (14.460)
Russia −23.663*** (3.052) −23.481*** (3.050) −18.714*** (3.757) −18.516*** (3.741)
Quote −70.038*** (4.066) −34.341*** (12.456) −2.375 (5.204) 89.584*** (16.076)
Quote2−41.860*** (13.807) −105.207*** (17.413)
TASS:E1 −31.737** (12.422) −31.808*** (12.110) −31.787*** (12.102) −27.482 (18.747) −30.023 (18.768) −31.778* (18.688)
TASS:E2 −1.067 (9.320) −0.390 (9.085) 0.172 (9.081) −16.277 (12.990) −15.150 (12.987) −14.970 (12.930)
TASS:E3 −16.794* (8.741) −17.785** (8.522) −17.681** (8.517) −32.245*** (12.456) −30.403** (12.434) −30.872** (12.381)
TASS:E4 −29.571*** (8.744) −34.481*** (8.594) −34.003*** (8.590) −24.722** (11.887) −25.576** (11.987) −25.141** (11.937)
TASS:E5 −38.267*** (9.185) −41.076*** (9.205) −39.884*** (9.208) −14.107 (12.094) −17.361 (12.454) −15.024 (12.408)
TASS:E6 −52.389*** (13.013) −54.172*** (12.887) −53.512*** (12.881) −48.739*** (16.583) −53.991*** (16.825) −52.927*** (16.757)
TASS:Russia 10.958** (5.118) 10.944** (5.115) 13.335* (7.048) 14.804** (7.024)
Constant 8.998*** (3.264) 48.364*** (3.840) 43.364*** (4.176) 12.560*** (4.426) 22.348*** (5.205) 9.795* (5.572)
Observations 6723 6723 6723 4180 4180 4180
Log likelihood −40,066.280 −39,871.670 −39,863.540 −24,936.590 −24,916.190 −24,894.250
Akaike information
80,164.550 79,781.340 79,767.070 49,905.170 49,870.380 49,828.500
80,273.530 79,910.750 79,903.280 50,006.530 49,990.730 49,955.180
*p < .1; **p < .05; ***p < .01.
Watanabe 13
desirability of the preceding events for the Russian government, that is, only the aban-
donment of the trade agreement with the EU and the Crimean referendum was framed in
as positive a manner as news on Ukraine had been in the pre-crisis period. Apart from the
periods following these two events, framing of the Ukraine crisis was profoundly nega-
tive, the most negative framing appearing after the launch of military operations against
pro-Russian separatists. In this period, ITAR-TASS’ framing of democracy and sover-
eignty shifted 1.88 and 2.47 times greater than Interfax’s framing towards the negative,
whereby I estimated the amount of bias in ITAR-TASS’ coverage to be as large as −52.3
points regarding democracy and −48.7 points regarding sovereignty. These findings sup-
port my first and second hypotheses (H1 and H2), and thus, I argue that ITAR-TASS’
news coverage of Ukraine was biased, reflecting the interests of the Russian government
in the country.
The strategic coverage of the Ukraine crisis by ITAR-TASS is indicative of the impor-
tance of the news agency in Russia’s ‘hybrid wars’, which utilizes non-military means to
attain military goals. In recent years, researchers have paid special attention to Russia’s
satellite news channel, Russia Today (RT), as a medium for public diplomacy (Galeotti,
2015; Nelson et al., 2015), but very few studies on ITAR-TASS have been conducted
from this perspective. The findings of this research suggest that the soft power strategy
of Russia, which has been advanced by Vladimir Putin since 2012 (Light, 2015), is more
comprehensive than previously thought, namely, in addition to the dissemination of news
stories directly to foreign audiences via RT, the Russian government utilizes ITAR-TASS
to reach foreign news media, bypassing the Western media’s foreign correspondents in
Moscow, who tend to be negative about the regime (Evans, 2005). To achieve this goal,
ITAR-TASS even mixes its own very negative descriptions on Ukraine with positive
comments of Western leaders, who are generally more newsworthy than Russian offi-
cials for Western audiences, in its news coverage, creating the non-linear relationship
between the sentiment scores and the numbers of quotation. This is a sophisticated prop-
aganda technique to increase the chance of its news stories to be accepted and redistrib-
uted by foreign news media.
By scrutinizing the three types of biased news stories, I have discovered that the main
sources of bias in ITAR-TASS’ coverage of Ukraine were (1) statements of Russian
Figure 3. Estimated state-ownership effect.
14 European Journal of Communication 00(0)
officials, to which the Russian news agency grants higher prominence, and (2) negative
descriptions of the situation in Ukraine, supporting my third and fourth hypotheses (H3
and H4). These causes are to a large extent consistent with the typology developed by
D’Alessio and Allen (2000), but not entirely so because ITAR-TASS’ news articles are
written in an ‘objective’ style without making clear distinction between opinions and
facts as required in Western journalism. In other words, the typology of news bias devel-
oped in research on the Western media does not fully apply to the non-Western media, in
which opinions are disguised as facts.
Based on the findings, I propose three changes in its definitions of news bias to extend
the scope of the typology. First, D’Alessio and Allen have defined statement bias as a
result of inclusion of journalists’ opinions, but it should not be restricted to direct expres-
sion of opinions (e.g. expressly support or criticize actors or ideas) because opinions can
be blended into news stories in various forms, some of which are very difficult to distin-
guish from ‘objective’ description of events or issues. In fact, much of the bias in ITAR-
TASS’ news stories on Ukraine was caused by descriptions with excessive emphasis on
their negative aspects of events. Second, as Barkho (2013a) pointed out that sources of
bias are not only backgrounds of individual journalists (personal bias) but also ideologi-
cal, social and political orientations of media organizations (corporate bias), statement
bias should encompass insertion of opinions of media organizations as well as of indi-
vidual journalists because personal opinions of journalists were not found in ITAR-
TASS’ news stories at all. Third, gatekeeping bias was very broadly defined as it is
caused by selection or deselection of particular kinds of stories, but it should be rede-
fined as bias caused by prioritization of particular sources since quotation of news
sources is the most significant source of bias, which can be easily distinguished from
statement bias. These proposed definitions of news bias are summarized in Table 3.
Finally, the revelation of the systematic bias in ITAR-TASS’ news coverage of
Ukraine demonstrates that the new methodology is an effective approach to measuring
Figure 4. Non-linear relationship between sentiment and quotes.
Watanabe 15
news bias. Although I have focused on ITAR-TASS in this research, the new approach is
not limited to studies of news agencies or international news media: It is particularly use-
ful in research on media bias in countries with a multi-party or authoritative political
system, where estimation of news bias has been very difficult due to the lack of non-
media benchmarks. In research on the news bias in multi-party political systems, one can
choose a news organization with a particular characteristic (e.g. ownership, political
affiliation, etc.) that is expected to cause bias in its news content. Then, the news content
should be compared with news content produced by other news organizations lacking
that characteristic. Even if partisan journalism is widely practised, inclusion of multiple
benchmark units selected from the entire political spectrum should allow estimation of
news bias. Authoritative media systems usually have very few independent or anti-
regime media outlets, but comparison between the state-controlled media should show
relative sizes of news bias correspondingly to media outlets’ susceptivity to the media
control as I have shown elsewhere (Lankina and Watanabe, in press). I invite readers to
research on objectivity of news in some of the most problematic media systems, where
biased news reporting is the pressing issue to democracy.
Declaration of conflicting interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship,
and/or publication of this article.
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this
1. Entman is still dependent on his own knowledge of objective reality in identifying which
aspects are not covered by the news when applying this approach.
Table 3. Types and definitions of news bias.
Type Cause Structure Example Measurement
Insertion of opinions
of journalists or media
No quote Stories emphasizing
social disruption
caused by pro-EU
protesters Positive–negative
framing of events,
issues or actors
in relation to
benchmark units
Description of events
or issues with focus on
particular aspects
Quotation of particular
type of sources
Direct or
quotes with
Stories quoting
Russian officials
who criticize
military operations
against pro-Russian
EU: European Union.
16 European Journal of Communication 00(0)
2. ITAR-TASS was renamed TASS in September 2014 again to emphasize its connection to the
predecessor (TASS, n.d.).
3. This statement was originally ‘consistent patterns in the framing of mediated communica-
tion that promote the influence of one side in conflicts over the use of government power’
(Entman, 2010: 166).
4. See Section 1 in the online appendix for more detailed timeline of the crisis.
5. The sources were the World service wire of ITAR-TASS; Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS) and Russia General Newswires; and Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine and Asia
Newswires of Interfax.
6. Online appendix is available at
7. Confirmation of the statistical findings by manual reading of the news stories is presented in
Section 4 in the online appendix.
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... Xinhua disseminates news in eight languages including English, and thus, its reach and influence are not limited by language. Similarly, TASS remains influential globally, especially in Europe and among Slavic countries (Watanabe 2017;Williams 2011). TASS functions to project Russia's power in global politics and distributes news in at least six languages, including English (Sterling 2009). ...
... Specifically, reporting of the Libyan revolution by media in democratic states was found to feature revisionist bias (i.e., pro-revolution) while coverage by news media in non-democratic regimes were pro status quo (i.e., anti-revolution). Watanabe (2017) found that coverage of the Ukrainian crisis by a Russian-owned news agency was heavily skewed to reflect events favoring Russian interests and narratives. In coverage of the Iraq war, TASS and Xinhua were heavily antiwar in line with their respective governments, a trend that is attributed to nationalistic bias (Horvit 2006). ...
... Together, they supply the most international news to audiences worldwide. TASS is equally large with nearly seventy foreign bureaus; however, it is state-owned and frequently used as an instrument of Russian official views (Watanabe 2017). Similarly, Xinhua is state-owned and acts as a mouthpiece of the government. ...
This study examines reporting on protests in Iran between late December 2017 and early January 2018 by global news agencies located in the United States (Associated Press [AP]), United Kingdom (Reuters), France (Agence France-Presse [AFP]), China (Xinhua), and Russia (Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union [TASS]). A census of reporting on the protests ( N = 369) was content analyzed. Results demonstrate that news agencies varied considerably in their portrayal of issues defined as problems, diagnosis of causes, moral evaluations, and treatment recommendations. Reporting by Xinhua differed considerably from Western news agencies and featured a greater proportion of stories recommending maintenance of the status quo in Iran. Calls for political change received more attention in privately owned news agencies based in democratic nations. While the use of sources in news stories was generally similar across agencies, protesters were absent in reporting by state-owned agencies. Results conclude that differences in national interests and/or ownership of global news agencies may explain findings and provide insight into news reporting on foreign protest.
... Watanabe uses his method in analysing the pro-government bias in a compilation of Ukrainian crisis both in English-language ITAR-TASS news and international news agencies. The analysis shows that media bias is growing after the events that were critical for the image of the Russian government (Watanabe, 2017). Namely semantics of news about democratization and sovereignty of Ukraine and armed conflict in the East of Ukraine. ...
... The author claims that the Russian government used the media for international propaganda and justification of its actions. In addition, the mix of research methodology with the inclusion of longitudinal content analysis also allowed to record the spread of fake news in international news agencies, which, according to the author, were subject to false influence of the Russian government in Ukraine (Watanabe, 2017). With some theoretical limitations, this study also shows that quantitative methods, combined with qualitative analysis of the text, allow to reveal the theme of media foreshadowing and fake news from a new side, in particular, objectively show the power of the influence of the political structure of the country on information sources. ...
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This study aims at analysing how the Ukrainian conflict changed the structure of the Russian online media space. In this context, different types of the media publications have been chosen as the channel and the main source of cultural codes and ideological frameworks (Thompson 1987; Van Dijk, 1985). This paper considers the strategies of political topic representation from different discourses in the space of internet resources, on the example of various thematic online lifestyle and news media publications: men’s and women’s magazines, tabloid, lifestyle, pro-government, stakeholders and oppositional. In the study, a systematic comparison of the units of analysis was conducted in lifestyle media: relative frequency analysis and word clouds, topic modelling and sentiment analysis. The hypothesis suggests that media resources will use different linguistic strategies (style, sentiment and words selection) to represent Ukraine in their articles. This concept denies the homogeneity of the media space and states that different information styles and media ideology are significantly changing representation of the strategies. The analysis shows that lifestyle media follows cultural language codes common to their audience, including discourse about Ukraine personal stories and issues. News media uses the strategies of absent arguments and quotes of those agents that reflect the ideological orientation of this publication. As a result, the study reveals how major political events affect the Russian media space and whether oppositional online outlets manage to maintain an independent position.
... By using Western country leaders as news sources instead of Russian officials, ITAR TASS expected their information considered to have higher news values and make the Western media interest to cite it. The use of ITAR TASS in conflict shows the example of how a country uses a non-military way to gain military goals (Watanabe, 2017). ...
... These findings quite similar to previous research and literature that explains the function of state news agencies is to deliver government political messages domestically and globally, to maintain the country's national interest. State news agency content is being influenced by government policy, so that the coverage will support the government's interest (Du & Li, 2017;Primayanti, 2015;Rantanen et al., 2019;Watanabe, 2017;Zhang & Boukes, 2019). In terrorism, the state news agency will never cover the news or statement from the group/person whose claiming responsibility for the terrorism act (Junaedi, 2017), it makes the objectivity become the rare things in terrorism news (Sukarno, 2011) The target audiences also influences the state news agency news frame (Satriani, 2018). ...
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Many of the global mass media tend to deliver a particular news frame in a terrorism case, especially linkage terrorism with certain religions, races, at so on. The global mass media is influenced by Western media. The news frame will be different from the news agency level. This article aims to discuss news frame by the national news agencies in New Zealand (TVNZ) and Sri Lanka (news. lk) in a terrorism case, using the Robert N. Entman frame model. The result shows TVNZ defines the problem as an unprecedented action and creates a dark history in the country, the cause of the problem is terrorists from outside New Zealand, moral judgments in the form of evidence that New Zealand society remains united, the victims are also part of the New Zealand family regardless of their background, so the recommended resolution of the problem is that the government guarantees the safety of Muslim communities. Differently, defines the problem as the motive of the attack as revenge with religious sentiment. Meanwhile, the security forces are not aware of the threat, that define the cause of the problem as the perpetrator is an organized group and an indication of religious sentiment. This media makes moral judgments by revealing the fact that Muslims not guilty, the government facilitates representatives of the religious community in Sri Lanka to express their opinions to find solutions for reconciliation and maintaining peace. The recommended resolution is that the government is ready to fight terrorism without foreign intervention, improve the performance of the security forces, and reveal the active role of the different Sri Lankan people's ethnicity and religion. Keywords : frame analysis, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, state news agency, terrorism news
... Berichte der TASS etwa über die Ukraine-Krise 2013/14 beinhalteten ein stark pro-russisches Framing von pivotal events, was zeigt, dass die TASS keine neutrale Informationsquelle darstellt(Watanabe 2017). 136 Siehe auch Light 2015; Walker/Ludwig 2017, 2021. ...
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Recent research has found that central bank communications affect outcomes, for example, by moving financial markets and shaping inflation expectations. Missing from the literature is an understanding of why the content of communications varies in the first place. We present an agenda setting model of a monetary policy committee (MPC) with committee members who bargain over the degree of vagueness in central bank communications. We generate hypotheses about the types of MPCs that are expected to produce more or less vague communications. We test our propositions empirically using data from the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) during Arthur Burns’s tenure (1970–1978) and find evidence that the FOMC uses vaguer language when the committee chair and median committee member have aligned preferences than when their biases are opposed. Our results show that the institutional design of the MPC matters for the level of vagueness committees communicate to outside actors.
This paper investigates the motives behind the dissemination of fake news and examines its sociodemographic correlates, namely, gender, age, frequency of using social media and frequency of accessing digital news. A fake news dissemination framework comprising three motives were used to fulfil the aim of the study, namely, Altruism, Attitude and Pass Time. Online questionnaires were distributed resulting in the recruitment of 869 Malaysians (18–59 years old). Linear regressions revealed all three motives to significantly and positively predict fake news dissemination. Further analysis revealed females to engage in fake news dissemination significantly less than males for Pass Time purpose, whereas younger people tend to significantly disseminate more false content for Altruistic purpose than the older cohorts. Individuals who spent less than an hour daily accessing digital news were found to significantly share more fake news for Attitude and Altruism reasons compared to those who spent more than 5 h daily. The identification of the sociodemographic correlates and unique motives for fake news dissemination is deemed beneficial to authorities such as online content regulators and policy makers in order to design more effective strategies to combat the promulgation of such harmful news.
This chapter aims to analyse the electoral mobilization by major political parties during the Iraqi parliamentary election held in May 2018 based on a quantitative text analysis, especially focusing on tones and strategies that these parties utilized for mobilization. Picking up four main parties as example, this chapter analysed mobilization tone using text data extracted from social network platform such as Facebook and Twitter and created data set for analysis. After conducting dictionary analysis that count frequency and weight the vocabularies as well as the semi-supervised model of machine learning called Latent Sematic Scaling (LSS)‚ this chapter concludes that the mobilization tone and its strategy differ from party to party depending majorly on the contributions each party made during the period under the IS influence. In essence, those who made great contributions to the military operation against the IS (such as the Fatah and Victory Alliance) were more likely to mobilize the voters based on their contribution to the IS operation‚ whereas those who played a crucial role in the social movement during the post-IS era (such as the Sadrist and Wataniya) were more likely to mobilize the voters based on their reformist contribution.
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The paper argues that in English on-line news the meanings of the conflict and crisis terms serve as reference points for the construction of a confrontation hierarchy. It is based on the interaction of the relations of force, serving as primes for meaning formation, with three levels of discourse prominence meant to attract, focus and keep the addressee’s attention in headings, headlines and throughout the text respectively. It is found that news stories arrange the units of conflict – crisis hierarchy according to three patterns: zoom-in, offering a detailed textual representation of confrontation with support of the argumentation sections of evidence, explanation or commentary; zoom-out, generalizing on the forces, underlying confrontation construction; multiperspectivation, aimed at a multifaceted representation of conflict – crisis hierarchy.
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Real-time social media data hold great conceptual promise for research and policymaking, but also face substantial limitations and shortcomings inherent to processing re-purposed data in near-real-time. This paper aims to fill two research gaps important for understanding utility of real-time social media data for policymaking: What policy-relevant information is contained in this data and whether this information changes in periods of abrupt social, economic, and policy change. To do so, this paper focuses on two salient policy areas heavily affected by the lockdown policies responding to the 2020 COVID-19 crisis – early childhood education and care policies, and labor market policies focused on (un)employment. We utilize Twitter data for a four-month period during the first wave of COVID-19 and data for the same four-month period the preceding year. We analyze this data using a novel method combining structural topic models and latent semantic scaling, which allows us to summarize the data in detail and to test for change of content between the period of ‘normalcy’ and period of ‘crisis’. With regards to the first research gap, we show that there is policy-relevant information in Twitter data, but that the majority of our data is of limited relevance, and that the data that is relevant present some challenges and limitations. With regards to the second research gap, we successfully quantify the change in relevant information between periods of ‘normalcy’ and ‘crisis’. We also comment on the practicality and advantages of our approach for leveraging micro-blogging data in near real-time.
If a medium has a monopoly in covering political news and daily distorts the news in favor of the ruling autocrat, how large will the persuasion effect be? Through which channels will such persuasion operate most? Working with a representative sample of the Russian population, I use a causal mediation analysis to explore whether (1) frequency of exposure and/or (2) reliance on biased reporting mediate the link between how people voted for incumbent elites and how they evaluate these elites in the present. Perceiving explicitly biased information as credible transmits a large and robust effect from voting to evaluation, while frequent exposure to this information produces an insignificant mediating effect. Another important finding is that the effect of perceived news credibility overrides the effect of previous electoral support: Accepting state propaganda as credible information converts people into regime supporters even if they did not support these elites at previous election.
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We analyse Russian state media’s framing of the Euromaidan protests using a novel Russian-language electronic content-analysis dictionary and method that we have developed ourselves. We find that around the time of Crimea’s annexation, the Kremlin-controlled media projected media narratives of protests as chaos and disorder, using legalistic jargon about the status of ethnic Russians and federalisation, only to abandon this strategy by the end of April 2014. The shift in media narratives corresponding to the outbreak of violence in the Donbas region gives credence to arguments about Putin’s strategic, interests-driven foreign policy, while adding nuance to those that highlight the role of norms and values.
Objectivity in journalism is a key topic for debate in media, communication and journalism studies, and has been the subject of intensive historical and sociological research. In the first study of its kind, Steven Maras surveys the different viewpoints and perspectives on objectivity. Going beyond a denunciation or defence of journalistic objectivity, Maras critically examines the different scholarly and professional arguments made in the area. Structured around key questions, the book considers the origins and history of objectivity, its philosophical influences, the main objections and defences, and questions of values, politics and ethics. This book examines debates around objectivity as a transnational norm, focusing on the emergence of objectivity in the US, while broadening out discussion to include developments around objectivity in the UK, Australia, Asia and other regions.
Russia has issued an unusually large number of official documents on various aspects of its foreign policy since the country became an independent state in 1991. Andrey Kozyrev, the first foreign minister, was reluctant to compose a document defining Russian foreign policy, arguing that as that policy would be based on the country’s national interest, the underlying principles would be self-evident. Those in favour of a formal document claimed that working out Russia’s foreign policy would assist in defining the country’s identity. Kozyrev relented, and the first Foreign Policy Concept was adopted in 1993, followed soon after by a Military Doctrine.1 Both were replaced by new versions in 2000, and the Foreign Policy Concept was updated again in 2008. Russia’s most recent foreign policy statement, Concept of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation, was approved by President Vladimir Putin in 2013. The latest Russian Military Doctrine was adopted in December 2014. Since 1997 Russia has also had a series of national security concepts. A second version was adopted in 2000 and a third in 2009, this last being called the Strategy of National Security of the Russian Federation until the year 2020. Russia also has an Information Security Doctrine, a Concept of Participation in International Development Assistance and, most recently, a Concept of Participation in BRICS.2
From Theory to Practice is the first scholarly look at the possibilities and challenges of impartial and objective journalism in our digitized media world. This volume brings together contributions from editors at premiere news outlets like Reuters and the BBC to discuss how to assess, measure, and applyimpartiality in news and current affairs in a world where the impact of digital technologies is constantly changing how news is covered, presented, and received. In this changing media environment, impartial journalism is as crucial as it ever was in traditional media, and this book offers an essential analysis of how to navigate a media milieu in which technology has sharply reduced the gatekeeping role news gatherers and producers used to have in controlling content flow to audiences.
Studies of Russian society have traditionally highlighted the particularity of the country's historical path and the irregular, irrational nature of Russian culture (Kangaspuro, 1999). Scholars have described Russia as characterized by numerous contradictory features. Not surprisingly, the nature and structure of the modern Russian media system reflect political, economic, and sociocultural developments deeply rooted in the country's history. During the two last centuries Russia has experienced a permanent transition:. from an agrarian society and imperial monarchy in the early nineteenth century. to a rapid, though uneven growth of capitalism and rise of a diverse party system under the rule of an authoritarian ruler (tsar) in the second half of the nineteenth century (interrupted by World War I early in the twentieth century). to a short-lived bourgeois multiparty democracy in February-October 1917. to the socialist revolution (early twentieth century), resulting in the emergence of the Communist Party monopoly and state-controlled planned economy and eventually to years of “mature socialist democracy” characterized by economic recession and degradation of political communication to propaganda. to a “perestroika” (reconstruction), as a policy of top-down Communist Party reforms that resulted in the collapse of the USSR. to the establishment of Russia as an independent state accompanied by a liberalization process and the introduction of a market economy and political systems inspired by “Western” models of liberal democracies.