At their first meeting with journalists since taking over Russia's largest independent radio news network, the managers had startling news of their own: from now on, they said, at least 50 percent of the reports about Russia must be "positive."
In addition, opposition leaders could not be mentioned on the air and the United States was to be portrayed as an enemy, journalists employed by the network, Russian News Service, say they were told by the new managers, who are allies of the Kremlin.
How would they know what constituted positive news?
"When we talk of death, violence or poverty, for example, this is not positive," said one editor at the station who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. "If the stock market is up, that is positive. The weather can also be positive."
The requirement that half the news be positive isn't as bad as the restrictions on what goes in the other half. There's very little real news reported in most of the Russian media. Putin has been able to get away with this in part because the Russians lack the sorts of beliefs that are needed to support a free society. Democracy is a failure in Russia. Democracy is not the aspiration of all peoples in the world and not all cultures contain the elements needed to support freedom. Russia should serve as a cautionary tale for neoconservative and liberal democracy imperialists.
The rulers in Russia have been able to get away with their crackdown in part because rising oil revenues have created greater prosperity. But Russia is near an oil production peak and eventually revenues will start declining. When living standards start declining will the media manipulations prove sufficient to allow the puppet democracy to remain in power? Time will tell.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2007 August 05 10:33 AM Russia|