The Russian Media as a Promoter of Manipulative Approaches: The Case of the Syrian Civil War

Dmitry Strovsky, Ron Schleifer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The content of mass information in any society is closely linked to the patterns of its political development. A typical example of this concerns the modern Russian media, which have been influenced particularly by their embeddedness with the authorities. Indeed, the Russian media have served as the mouthpiece of the country’s political leaders, and this fact has left a significant imprint on media coverage. To understand the symbiotic relationship between Russian political leaders and media, this article focuses on the Syrian Civil War, which is currently one of the most important issues on the international political agenda. The Russian government’s role in the conflict over the last several years has affected the Russian media’s tremendous interest in this topic. Nonetheless, Moscow’s participation in the war was determined uniquely by how the communication sphere related the conflict to its audience so that its involvement in the Syrian imbroglio was not an objective reflection of reality. Guided by the political interests of the authorities, the Russian media created an emotionally oriented story, which intended to advance an extremely positive interpretation of Russia’s role in this conflict in the minds of the audience. Therefore, in terms of propaganda, these media acted not as “pure” promoters of the state’s will, but rather as its “interpreters.” This study highlights how leading Russian publications approach this agenda and the consequences this fact has for the Kremlin’s political priorities. The authors come to a definite conclusion regarding Russian media’s unconditional dependence on the political priorities of modern Russian society. It was crucial for the Kremlin that the media present a positive view of Moscow’s involvement in the conflict given that Russia’s military presence in Syria caused a very controversial reaction throughout the world and led to increased tensions and contentious disputation between Russia and many Western countries. Therefore, the Kremlin needed to justify its policies and did so through manipulating the Russian public by means of a large-scale propaganda campaign conducted through the Russian media. This phenomenon is pivotal to understand not only the case of Russia’s involvement in Syria but also contemporary international media development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Middle East and Africa
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • ISIS
  • Russia
  • Syria
  • political and media bias
  • terrorism

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