Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My Russian News Sources

The last post got me thinking about discussing (briefly) where I browse for news and events and such regarding Russia. The number of English-language news sources that I browse for information is relatively small and I actually think I could get some tips from others as to what and where to look for reliable news service.

I'll start with a quick run-down of American and British papers and news media services. I'll read them if something is about Russia and sometimes it makes for a topic for discussion, but I don't hold them in particularly high value. The most typical ones to write about Russia regularly are the New York Times, Washington Post, and the BBC. To the Russian reader, they often seem grossly pro-western (which in zero-sum thinking equates to anti-Russian) in their bias to the point of outrage. I generally consider them incomplete enough to be of limited value, but as I said, sometimes they make for a discussion or give me an idea for more research.

The English language Russian news and news service websites that I browse daily include, ITAR-TASS, Kommersant, RIA Novosti, Regnum, and RosBusinessConsulting. I will less commonly browse by Moscow Times and St. Petersburg Times ... their articles begin to become predictable. MosNews is also there but it is rather mild tabloid ... sometimes they will have an interesting interview. I've noticed that MosNews will really hack news stories that come from other sources as well, so if I come across something by way of MosNews, I generally go and translate the original. I'll use Topix and some other services to gather headlines on my homepage also.

Russia language news websites that I will browse and slowly read through (and translate) are Gazeta, Izvestia, Lenta, Komsomol'skaya Pravda. KP I consider more tabloidy and Gazeta seems more newsy (of course my Russian is much less than perfect, so my judgement of their news articles is incomplete). I'll also go to Levada Center and translate opinion polls and articles sometimes.


Sean Guillory said...

I check many of the same ones you do. I also suggest Radio Free Europe, Moscow News (weekly), RVI Novosti, and I usually start my day with Johnson's Russia List. I tend to only read Kommersant in Russian, which I think is the best Russian newspaper. Izvestia can have some decent stuff too as does Novaia gazeta. I also like some of the analyst sites--Russia Profile and Eurasian Home is a new favorite. Setting Google to do Russian news seaches is another good way to catch stuff from newspapers.

Besides all this, I think you do a pretty wide scan.

W. Shedd said...

I should have mentioned Johnson's Russian List - I browse it fairly often.

I look forward to the day when my Russian is good enough to read Russian News sites directly. As it stands now, I can usually understand the headlines, and I'll use a combination of computer translation, my own eyeball, and asking Katja to get through Russian news articles.

I subscribe to Russia Profile and also Russian Life magazine and browse both online as well.

I knew you would have some good information on this topic. I'm impressed with Kommersant as a newspaper, although it is obviously strongly business related. Perhaps that makes it almost the Russian "Wall Street Journal".

Over the last few years I've been paying much more attention to who owns and operates my news sources. Maybe a combination of reading Russian headlines plus FoxNews made me more aware of how views and news stories can be skewed or distorted.

Before that I had this naive sense that journalists were motived by things such as - telling the entire story, doing research, offering some evidence of counterpoints in news articles. I still have some sense that good western news sources attempt to get some words in from the opposite side of the story. But it seems that politically skewed news sells in the world now. People don't want to be informed or even challenged. They want their news to support their pre-existing views. Everything is becoming more polarized as a result.

I sometimes wonder if this is a result of the information age and increased internet use. We no longer define communities by geography, but instead become polarized communities of like-minded individuals.

Sean Guillory said...

While I don't know anything about how Russian journalism actually operates. In my opinion, the general state of news has a lot of do with thew internet, 24 hour news coverage, and of course news for profit (which of course is not new, only more intense with the increase competition of cable news and the internet.) Many media critics cite the fact that because the internet and 24 hour news focuses on breaking news, news in general has to be produced faster and faster so news orgs are not scooped. This has resulted in the almost collapse of investigative journalism in newspapers. I remember hearing or reading somewhere that during Vietnam, journalists had the time to investigate their stories, check their facts and their sources. From how say Iraq is covered now, along with the tighter military and state control over information, journalists just don't have the same time and access as before. Journalists have to rely on anonymous sources, the nebulous "senior administration official", and think tank experts on their rolodex to get the news out and get it out fast.

There are of course a lot more structural and cultural problems that I see. The complete collapse of political discourse into what you see on Fox News and CNN is another major problem. There is never any discussion, and more often than not the people on these shows are far from competent. Democratic or Republican party hacks simply repeat their talking points rather than having a real discussion on the problems that plague our society.

I think the how the media operates is a symptom of the general crisis in democracy as a political system, not just in the US, but also in other democratic states. Contrary to Bush's statement of democracy being on the march, I see it in a severe global crisis. But that is for another discussion . . .

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