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The Media

Russia Today: Vladimir Putin's Weapon In 'The War of Images' 254

Posted by Soulskill
from the next-gen-propaganda dept.
dryriver sends in a story at Der Spiegel Online about news network Russia Today, and how it is becoming a powerful propaganda tool for Vladimir Putin to use against Western audiences. Quoting: "Since 2005, the Russian government has increased the channel's annual budget more than tenfold, from $30 million (€22.6 million) to over $300 million. Russia Today's budget covers the salaries of 2,500 employees and contractors worldwide, 100 in Washington alone. And the channel has no budget cuts to fear now that Putin has issued a decree forbidding his finance minister from taking any such steps. The Moscow leadership views the funds going to the channel as money 'well invested,' says Natalya Timakova, the press attaché to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. 'In addition, Russia Today is — and I hope the Germans will forgive me for this remark — significantly more modern than Deutsche Welle, for example, and it also has more money.' ... Russia Today sees itself as a champion of a global audience critical of the West. But it is also meant to amplify the self-doubts of Europeans and Americans who have been forced by recent events to wonder if their own countries — like Russia and China — are corrupt and in the grip of a pervasive intelligence apparatus. In any case, the station has a rare knack for propaganda. ... To spice up the news, directors sometimes use Hollywood-like special effects, such as a computer-animated tank that looks like it is rolling over the newscaster's feet or Israeli fighter jets that fly a virtual loop through the studio before dropping their bombs over a map of Syria."
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Russia Today: Vladimir Putin's Weapon In 'The War of Images'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:23PM (#44555825)

    In 10 or 15 years, Edward Snowden will be remembered as a defector in the New Cold War during Putin's reign. Once enough Russians become unhappy with the puppet show, they will push Putin and Medvedev out.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Putin might die before that of old age, despite his publicists publishing him as a youthful person.

      Or maybe he dies leading some bear cubs to safety or some shit like that.

      He might just as well fire all that russia today staff, it's not really doing shit for him and there's just too much shit happening/happened in russia for past decade that he can't just pile it under some other shit.

      but a new russian revolt? nah. they won't do that unless he makes the mistake of increasing vodka pricing again - if you're

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Putin die of old age?

        Have a look at Robert Mugabe some time. When I'm that age I hope to be goofing off on a porch somewhere, chasing kids off my lawn, not trying to hold onto political power.

  • Big hair, pasty make-up, loud ties and announcer voices which grab your attention and slap you around a bit, no matter how banal the news item.

    In Soviet Russia the news watches YOU!

  • I skim RT daily (Score:4, Informative)

    by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:27PM (#44555901) Homepage Journal

    I skim RT daily. But you know what? An *awful* lot of their content is blatant and clumsy propaganda.

    It's truly the "National Enquirer" of the news sites I visit on a daily basis. The only reason I don't go anywhere else for a Russian perspective on the news is I haven't found any other english-translated Russian sites. Given a choice, I'd never go to that trash-rag again.

    • by Pliny (12671)

      I watch their video stream at home. their coverage of human rights issues inside Russia is the darkest of comedies, and their skew on Syria is super obvious, but I'm in the market for a news source critical of my government, and they certainly fit the bill better than MSNBC or CNN.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I skim RT daily. But you know what? An *awful* lot of their content is blatant and clumsy propaganda.

      It's truly the "National Enquirer" of the news sites I visit on a daily basis. The only reason I don't go anywhere else for a Russian perspective on the news is I haven't found any other english-translated Russian sites. Given a choice, I'd never go to that trash-rag again.

      I get the feeling RT is trying to fill whatever gaps are left between wind-up commentators and news-fo-tainment in the West. The word Tommyrot comes to mind.

    • I never felt they were that bad... The videos i almost never watch- that stuff isn't so good. The written propaganda I never felt that bad about because it's almost like they want you to know it... I feel insulted by Fox News because they seem serious about their propaganda while RT doesn't. When the truth aligns with them, or they don't care, they do a pretty good job-- and now I know why-- they have the staff and in the USA most "news" sources are just filling up space/time because they have no resource

    • by s.petry (762400)

      Are you implying that Fox, CNN, NBC, ABC, The NY Post, the AP, or any of the other entertainment^W News in the US is not propaganda? We need to get "News" from somewhere. I think its wise to try and teach people to recognize and find facts in propaganda, and look for the agendas. The Ostrich can bury it's head in the sand, but still gets eaten.

    • by jandrese (485)
      I thought RT was just supposed to be the Fox News of Russia? Basically an arm of the political party willing to repeat whatever they're told. You can't blame either of them, it's a very profitable thing to do.
    • Re:I skim RT daily (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 0111 1110 (518466) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @04:41PM (#44557639)

      How is this so called "blatant propaganda" different from the blatant propaganda from every corporate or government news source in the US? Among Americans at least 50% think Snowden is one of the good guys and not a traitor and shouldn't be punished, but every major US news outlet consistently paints Snowden in the worst possible light doing their best to help the government out as much as possible with its blatant character assassinations and smears.

    • by 0111 1110 (518466)

      I skim RT daily. But you know what? An *awful* lot of their content is blatant and clumsy propaganda.

      You skim it daily even though you think it is blatant propaganda? Why?

    • by cartman (18204)

      I read RT for the first time today and was surprised how crude it was. It consisted mostly of articles that were obviously written to stir up hatred/anger towards the US, and towards the west more generally. One article referred to the Bank of England as "monetary jihadists" and claimed they are "financial terrorists".

      That kind of propaganda is just way too crude. The average person can see through it.

      RT would be much more persuasive if they toned it down a lot. Right now, it's just silly.

  • The station was even more triumphant when it signed Larry King

    I know Larry King wasn't that bad (I found him insightful), but maybe if they take enough of our cable talking heads we might get actual journalists on the news.

  • The Russians have always been the best in the world at propaganda. A book that covers this really well from a former insider is the Sword and the Shield [amazon.com] by Christopher Andrew (Author) and Vasili Mitrokhin.

    In the US we fought back using abstract art [theartnewspaper.com]. Back then great pains were taken to hide propaganda, nowadays the great pains to hide things are taken by advertising companies on behalf of multinationals...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:30PM (#44555935)

    At least RT is outwardly funded and influenced by the state so you can make your own determination as to the validity of any of their reporting. I would prefer to know there is a government backed bias instead of having secret influence on the media like there is in many US news outlets.

    • Is this why you (and those who modded you up) are more comfortable with Fox News than with other outlets?
      Their bias is, after all, more outright.

  • Actual reporters (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:30PM (#44555943) Homepage

    Russia Today has an edge simply because it has a big reporting staff. This is unusual in the US today. Only the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post have serious world reporting staffs any more.

    RT is biased, but it's no worse than Fox News. The embarrassing thing for Americans is that RT doesn't have to make up bad stuff about the US. They just put the bad stuff at the top of their pages.

    • by brit74 (831798)
      Except that RT does make-up bad stuff about the US. For example, conspiracy theories about 9/11: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUmGvyUIU_E [youtube.com]
    • by jandrese (485)

      RT is biased, but it's no worse than Fox News.

      Yeah, cancer is pretty bad, but it's no worse than SARS.

    • by poity (465672)

      RT is biased, but it's no worse than Fox News

      You know what else is no worse than Fox News? Fox News!
      Imagine someone on Slashdot getting modded up for defending it with the "at least it's not worse than X" reasoning.

  • A sad demand (Score:4, Insightful)

    by a whoabot (706122) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:34PM (#44555995)

    Go ahead and watch online: Two channels in English. [rt.com] Sad that there is a demand for news bent to the side of a human right abuser like Russia. But the Obama administration (like the Bush administration) before has been so corrupt that outside views are needed.

    • Go ahead and watch online: Two channels in English. [rt.com] Sad that there is a demand for news bent to the side of a human right abuser like Russia. But the Obama administration (like the Bush administration) before has been so corrupt that outside views are needed.

      We're tired of inaccurate, bias media so let's go watch other inaccurate, bias media?

      It's not like the two somehow even out and you end up with the truth. They're both just making random crap up as they go.

  • When I was young, I used to listen to Radio Moscow, Radio Peking on shortwave radio, to get the perspective from the other side. Now I can just browse a website. Still, a lot of propaganda on all sides. The truth tends to lie somewhere in the middle.

    • Just don't get stuck into the trap of aiming for the middle simply because both sides have a bias. Then you are no better than the Americans.... who continually shift beyond Mussolini's Fascism without realizing it.

  • Not to be outdone, Obama has authorized Voice of America to broadcast to American audiences, in order to ensure that our country keeps the upper hand in using propaganda against western audiences.

    </wishiwerejoking> [pbs.org]

  • Russia World (Score:5, Interesting)

    by T.E.D. (34228) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:57PM (#44556331)

    The modern Russian media is if anything worse than the old Pravda was. If you've recently had the pleasure of trying to have a political discussion with a Russian national, you'll notice quickly that they basically live in an entirely different universe than everyone else. Seriously, day-long Fox News viewers are well-grounded in reality compared to these folks.

    In the Russian universe, the driving force behind everything is the USA. Literally everything, even stuff your typical American would claim to neither know nor give a shit about. The entire Arab Spring was started and driven by outside USA agitators. All those protestors you see on TV? All fakes (or paid US agents). They'll do the same in Russia too, given half the chance. You see, NGO's are also all CIA organizations acting to overthrow governments. Thus attacking NGO's is a patriot's duty.

    It'll be fun when they start trying to seriously peddle this stuff in the West. I'd laugh it off as clearly unbelievable, but I used to do that with the 700 Club when it started on TV too. Some people bought it, and that made it important, no matter how clearly silly it all was.

    For that reason I'd actually advocate taking in some Russian media, just so their behavior will start to make some sense to you. Syrians, wonder why Russia works so hard to keep your local tyrant in power? The answer's there. Americans, wonder what Russians seem to have against anything at all your country publicly seems to want? The answer's there too.

    • by qaz123 (2841887)
      Yes and WMD in Iraq were real in the "American universe".
      • by T.E.D. (34228)
        That was that "Fox News" universe I was talking about. Check out a recent interview with Cheney sometime (if you have the stomach for it). He's still insisting the WMDs were really there somewhere, and they just failed to find them. These aren't "lies" exactly, because he honestly, fervently believes this stuff. As I said, different universe.
    • by tftp (111690)

      In the Russian universe, the driving force behind everything is the USA.

      Not everything, of course. You are exaggerating. But there are reasons why NGOs are hated so much. The reasons are in their history. NGOs formed - and were financed by the USA - as soon as Gorbachev made it possible. It was not perceived as bad at that time. But as those NGOs started pushing US policies in Russia, and as those policies started to crash and burn, the opinion flipped. NGOs' reputation was tarnished. Today the leaders o

  • Most news media spews propoganda in some respect even if when that respect is apolitical in the form of human laziness, lack of knowledge or button pushing and invocation of hyperbole to attract interest/ratings.

    As long as you understand context only real question does SNR of nonsense and propoganda to useful objective information make media x worth yer time 2 parse.

    http://rt.com/usa/nsa-review-group-clapper-445/ [rt.com]

  • But it is also meant to amplify the self-doubts of Europeans and Americans who have been forced by recent events to wonder if their own countries — like Russia and China — are corrupt

    No, they aren't [wikipedia.org]. Why would anyone with Internet access and a working brain wonder that?

  • "There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth."

    RT provides a nice counter-point to the Western propaganda machine.

  • yes, it's mostly propaganda - just like all the western "news outlets". The difference is that it's different propaganda and that's quite refreshing, it's one source of information which doesn't parrot the same garbage all the rest spew out.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @04:11PM (#44557217)

    You know what's a more interesting site?

    English Russia [englishrussia.com]. Mostly photo-essay / slideshow style, but with really high quality, large images. Tons of urban exploration [englishrussia.com] themed stories, for example. Very neat.

    One of the reasons that I think the mainstream press has been biting it online is that many of them still think 300-pixel-wide images are acceptable for covering a story. I have a camera where I can shoot someone's photo from a block away and practically see their nosehairs, news photographers are shooting with the same or better, and they're posting crappy, overcompressed, over-contrasted, tiny garbage.

    The Boston Globe's Big Picture [boston.com] posts images 990x660, and they're so much better it's astounding. They're standard newswire photos - just not compressed to hell and shrunk to the size of a postage stamp like they are almost everywhere else!

  • so... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @04:25PM (#44557423)

    So are we pretending now that the United States doesn't have it's own State Media propaganda outlets? And no I'm not talking about Fox news or MSNBC. They are basically extensions of their respective political parties but not directly run by the feds.

    I'm talking about Voice of America: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voice_of_America [wikipedia.org]
    They broadcast US propaganda all over the world at the behest of the state department.

    But wait you say? This is only directed at foreign audiences like the middle east to counteract the state run media there?

    Ah, but no... Congress just repealed the decades old "propaganda ban" and directed Voice of America to start broadcasting inside the united states:
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130715/11210223804/anti-propaganda-ban-repealed-freeing-state-dept-to-direct-its-broadcasting-arm-american-citizens.shtml [techdirt.com]

    That's right, The United States of America, beacon of freedom, land of the free, home of the brave, will now have a State media organization dedicated to manipulating the American people into believing their government is Righteous and good.

    greater than 1% of our population is in prison.
    We have a never ending nebulous "War on Terror"
    We have a secret domestic spy network that captures all of your communications
    Our government now imprisons people indefinitely without warrant, cause or judicial oversight.
    Our president now orders the death of foreigners AND American citizens without any oversight what-so-ever as long as he feels they are an imminent threat.

    Welcome to the the Police state.
    Russia's not looking so bad now is it?

    • by Bob_Who (926234)

      greater than 1% of our population is in prison.

      So, we almost have it right.... We've got the capacity, but not the correct sociopaths.

  • The reason why RT (along with the BBC, Al-Jazeera and others) are popular in the US is because they're not filled with the crap that CNN, FOX and (MS)NBC cover.

    Rather than focusing on supposed "racism" about Oprah in a high-end fashion boutique they focus on the real issues, like the NSA spying scandal, Obama's drone wars, etc.
    • by 32771 (906153)

      >Rather than focusing on supposed "racism" about Oprah in a high-end fashion boutique they focus on the real issues, like the NSA spying scandal, Obama's drone wars, etc.

      Personally I like terradaily.com because it only marginally covers any of the topics you mentioned.

  • You'll find RT on YouTube if you can't figure out where its hiding in your cable line up. In my market Comcast has it on two channels that are generically labeled "Leased Access" on all of the TV Listings. I've never seen anything listing channel RT on any published lineup. If you are flipping channels, RT will have a green logo and wire crawl. Its like CNN without commercials, but regular intervals of station ID breaks.

    The Kaiser Report runs Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but I still can't figure out

    • by 32771 (906153)

      Keiser must be dueling with the onion for shrillness. On second thought I like how onion news anchors always keep their cool, one of the women actually looked like she had been botoxed to prevent any accidental smiles.

  • This is what media does. It's funny to point out Russia, there are three fingers aiming back at you. This is what media is: using Threat Narrative, misinformation and filtering to Manufacture Consent. [youtube.com]

    Do yourself a favor and watch the video I linked. Realize the truth: There are no absolutes, everything is multifaceted. You can deliver some good info while also furthering an agenda. This is the Information Age, and it will quickly become the Dark Age 2.0 if we are not wise about the information we ac

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @06:28PM (#44558843)

    Russia Today sees itself as a champion of a global audience critical of the West. But it is also meant to amplify the self-doubts of Europeans and Americans who have been forced by recent events to wonder if their own countries â" like Russia and China â" are corrupt and in the grip of a pervasive intelligence apparatus.

    I find it odd that this role is considered bad. Certainly it would be bad in an authoritarian regime. But in a democracy that is the precise role of the 4th estate - they shouldn't be telling us everything is fine when it isn't and frankly it is never fine, how does that saying go? The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

    • by PPH (736903)

      The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

      That used to mean us watching them. Now it means them watching us. It all depends on who gets to enjoy the freedom.

  • "Russia Today .. is also meant to amplify the self-doubts of Europeans and Americans who have been forced by recent events to wonder if their own countries -- like Russia and China -- are corrupt and in the grip of a pervasive intelligence apparatus".

    Without the pretext of the Cold War, it is patently obvious that the US is continuing its war on Democracy ..

    American Power and the New Mandarins [wikipedia.org]

    Imperial Ambitions [wikipedia.org]

    Vulture Fund Threat to Third World [gregpalast.com]
  • by PPH (736903)

    Not a damned thing about the NFL season or the Kardashians. I'm outta here!

  • While the RT agenda is fairly obvious and I don't question that some of the info is skewed in some way, I find it a much more reliable outlet than CNN, MSNBC, FOX, or the plethora of other vacuous and blatantly false media outlets available here in the US.

    I can find some decent reporting on the RT, and almost none of it is about Honey Boo Boo and Kim Kardashian, so..... .... It's a much better news source than most of the gheystream media.

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