Friday, July 08, 2005

Pravda on Inosmi

The best way to increase anti-Western sentiments among Russians is to advertise the site http://www.inosmi.ru/. Inosmi publishes daily translations of the articles about Russia from major European and American newspapers. What strikes a Russian reader who start browsing these articles is incredible bias and lack of diversity. Probably 90% of articles contain one set of clich?s. All facts of life in Russia are interpreted in the way to support the main thesis – Russia is moving away from freedom and democracy back to the USSR. About a week ago I read a column published in the WSJ on the sale of Ren TV network to Severstal (70% of shares) and a German media group RTL (30%). RenTV is a national network present in every Russian region albeit not very popular. Although RenTV is openly anti-Putin it belongs to the state-owned energy monopolist RAO ES. So it could be said that RenTV is (indirectly) state-owned. The WSJ columnist interprets the fact that a state-owned network is sold to a private Russian company and a private German media group as – surprise! – another step towards total censorship and destruction of the freedom of speech. His arguments are (1) Severstal is ‘loyal’ to Kremlin and (2) German RTL’s share of 30% is too small. Can anyone tell me, if General Electric is loyal to the White House or not?
For a person like me who remembers well Soviet TV and newspapers the similarity between Soviet coverage of the Western life and today’s Western approach is evident. First, the ideological glasses – in one case communist and in another “democratic”. Second, the rigid clich?s – in one case “The West is moving towards the total crisis and socialist revolutions” and in another “Russia is moving backwards from democracy and is simply mini-USSR”. Third, only news that support these dogmas are covered. Every contradiction is totally ignored. The fact that in the West people are not eager to support communism was explained by the lack of “real” free speech because communists are barred from national networks, radio and printed media. Sounds familiar? If only Russian liberals are given enough time to enlighten and educate poor brain-washed Russians!
One of the stories on inosmi.ru really made me laugh. It reminded me so much of one story on the Soviet television I remember. The reporter gives a couple of pictures of Manhatten where only those Americans live who enriched themselves by exploiting the working class and then takes the viewer to the real America (he said that) – South Bronx. There he shows the horrible life of ordinary Americans, takes interviews and then asks the prominent American intellectuals – Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal – to comment on what he saw. I then thought that Vidal and Chomsky was really top US politicians. It turned out later that in the US they are in the same category as Kasparov and Piotrovskaya in today’s Russia.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

As an American in California I was born after WWII and quite familiar of the US media. With diversity in news outlets the out bread of talk radio, internet and now bloggers they have revealed what many knew in the last 50 years. The mainstream media was not a complete picture. I have worked with refugees of the former Soviet Union and also Eastern Europeans. I am not alone because they colored what was true. Being an average normal person anyone then would seek out where you knew the truth is spoken. To be honest, looking back at our leaders, you can tell which ones had the right take. When Pres. Ronald Reagan became president it was not by accident he had the timing right for the dissolution of the USSR. It was after the free world could access truth from friction. Besides I have given up on mainstream media becuase they seem to talk allot about things they know nothing about. To be redundant I am not alone with that observation.

Mister Kiffer said...

It's the same thing on the American East Coast. I don't even wath television anymore because I am so disgusted by the media. Iget my news from the BBC's website and themoscowtimes.com and try to filter fact from fiction.

However, I'm interning with a small NY City newspaper and one has to accept that it is hard to provide the full picture in one story espicially when you have only hours to write on up two three unrelated subjects.

Of course I should also probably mention, on a personal note, I'm sick of the news on American TV, it's awful! No coverage of international events (period)! Of course we get 24 hour coverage for a month of one murder with one casualty in Aruba and not one story on Andijan!

neha said...

I think this is a rather sorry affair - this lopsided or no news of places that are outside the country. With rupert murdoch and co having a monopoly in media (and all with the governments' blessings!) there is a huge gulf in understanding of other cultures.
Here we are - with technological means to reach other countries, but not with the intellectual understanding to know how to maintain those relationships. and the crisis around the world is for all to see!

Lone Ranger said...

Gee, if I'd known that Rupert Murdock has a monopoly, I'd have bought stock. But I was intimidated by ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, NPR, NYT, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, LA Times, Washington Post, etc, etc, etc.

R2K said...

I dont think there is any severe monopoly in the news media, sure it isnt perfect...

But the real problem is the financial monopoly: Everyone reports what sells, in the manner that sells best. So there is a problem with format, what is covered and how it is presented. There is a big contrast between, say, CNN (one of the best american news sources) and the BBC. There is a huge contrast there.

Anonymous said...

I can remember in the 1990's, in regard to the politics of Russia several people in the US media and some politicians who said there is no way anyone could ever comment on the inner workings of Russia or any other country. It would only show our ignorance or arrogance. A recipe of poison for leaders.
I do think the culprit, is people read an article or two and then develop talking points. Now this has nothing to do with the so call appearance of monopolies, because it takes a sort of reformation with individuals in free countries to want better. Then it would change.

Gus said...

I began to become interested in Russia a while ago, and ever since I have paid attention to any news regarding Russia to try and give me a better understanding of the country.

It seems that all Russian news is passed through some kind of filter before it reaches the rest of the world. I live in Australia, and I am usually pretty proud of our media (even though Rupert Murdoch started it all in my hometown **shudder**), yet it's hard to escape the stereotypes that seem to be placed on Russia.

On our ABC news, which is usually pretty unbiased they were quite happy to talk about the attempt to curb vodka drinking in Russia, while conveying the image of Russians all being alcoholics. They also managed to say how the attempt to put vodka companies under state ownership shows Putin's plans to move Russia away from Democracy...

I guess Russia will have to prove to the world that it is different than the stereotype that is dumped on it in the international media :)

Anonymous said...

I think being born and brought up in USSR and having spent 13 years in USA and now in Canada, I can say for sure that Russia is indeed going toward autocracy under Putin, who for the fact shares power among his xKGB colleges, this is not a fantasy, not a western propoganda, but simply statement of fact, that said, let's recollect Russian during USSR, during 90s (under Eltsin) and now under Putin, how many free press was established under USSR, let's say NONE, during Eltsin we started toward democratic movement, although it was really difficult because democratic movement was just about to be born in Russia, but then everything is scrapped under Putin and sole autocracy established with Duma who is puppet under Kremlin, and common if you are true statesman/diplomat who represent entire Russia, how can one be so elloquant speaker like Putin (remember his statement on Chechen fighters "Mochit v sortire budem"), no transparency in Russia, no independant judicial enquiry for any governemnt wrong doings, (Canada and any other western country has one) no freedom of press and opinion nowadays is tolerated, and you are saying "about westerners being bias", how else can you be while seing what's happening in Russia now? Enlighten me please, I am all ears.

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