By annexing the Crimea, Russia has redrawn the map of Europe.
The East versus West media narrative that was already hard to reconcile became further separated by a seemingly unbridgeable divide, reminiscent of the Cold War. Nevertheless, when President Vladimir Putin addressed Russia’s Duma this week, the whole world stopped to listen.
According to Putin, and the Kremlin propaganda machine, Russia’s forces are protecting the Crimea from a new Ukrainian government with dangerous fascist leanings. For the Western media, nothing can justify a unilateral act against a sovereign nation. For Russia, Western criticisms resound with the hollow ring of hypocrisy.
Some journalists themselves have taken uncompromising positions. An American reporter for Russia Today resigned live on air in protest at the channel’s coverage.
On the other side of the news divide, a Putin-loyal TV personality, who wields real power in the state media, ramped up the rhetoric to a war-footing. Concerns about the power of the media to exacerbate tensions even led to calls in Ukraine to take pro-Russian outlets off the airwaves completely.
Helping us explore the media angles this week are: Kristina Jovanovski, a Kiev-based freelance journalist; Peter Lavelle, the host of Russia Today’s CrossTalk; Simon Ostrovsky, from VICE Media; and John Dalhuisen, the Europe and Central Asia programme director at Amnesty International.
In other media news: journalists linked with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt face the courts, while four Al Jazeera staff remain behind bars; there are troubles in the Gulf with Saudi Arabia demanding that Qatar shut down Al Jazeera completely; and Myanmar’s long-debated media laws come into effect while five journalists face trial for revealing state secrets.
For our feature this week, the Listening Post’s Will Yong returns to the intersection of technology and the media, investigating the best and the worst of the online comments section. With more and more online interaction migrating to Facebook and Twitter, what can media organisations do to control the trolls and cultivate a better conversation?
Lastly, our web video of the week takes us back to Turkey in 2013 when protests over the proposed development of a park in Istanbul escalated into a challenge against the government. But if you had been watching Turkish television, you might not have noticed. Ayce Kartal’s ‘Tornistan’ contrasts the rumble in the streets with the silence of the Turkish media.
Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.
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