The Listening Post

Russia’s media Olympics

Ahead of Sochi’s Olympics, we ask how the Kremlin will handle the news coverage that comes with hosting the games.

While the majority of Russia’s news media have not even waited for the torch to get lit to declare the Sochi Winter Olympic Games a triumph, other journalists in Sochi have different news pegs in mind.

Among these is the contentious gay propaganda law, the environmental impact of the Sochi development projects and, of course, the enormous cost to the taxpayer.

But step-by-step, through the Vladimir Putin years, the Russian media – particularly on the broadcast side – have been brought to heel. The president and his inner circle can, directly or indirectly, manage the state’s message through the media.

Journalism can be a dangerous game in Russia. Pushing the boundaries can get foreign reporters expelled and it can get Russian reporters killed.

These are the Olympics the Kremlin wanted. But how will it like the news coverage that always comes with hosting the games?

Joining the Listening Post to talk about this is: David Satter, the author of Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State; Ekaterina Zabrovskaya, the editor-in-chief of Russia Direct; Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber, a journalist at Moscow Times; Boris Timoshenko of the Glasnost Defence Foundation; and Maxim Filimonov of RIA Novosti.

On Newsbytes this week: Egypt and the legal status of Al Jazeera journalists held in Egyptian jails – not good news; then Edward Snowden is giving some back after taking a bruising in the media. He used an interview with the New Yorker magazine to accuse the US mainstream media of abdicating their responsibility to hold power to account; and finally, the Associated Press says it will no longer work with an award-winning photojournalist, Mexican photographer Narciso Contreras, after he admitted to digitally tampering with a picture taken in Syria.

In this week’s feature: Given the stories we keep hearing out of places like Pakistan and Yemen, we have become conditioned to think of drones as weapons of war. But this kind of technology is also being used as a tool of the news gathering process.

The Listening Post’s Will Yong reports on the potential – and some of the pitfalls – of the media’s unmanned eyes in the skies.

And finally, if you are reading this at work, you might identify with our Video of the Week. It is called 15 Things That Inevitably Happen When You Work In An Office. It was produced by Buzzfeed – and has touched a nerve with a lot of desk jockeys and office workers. That is why it has got more than a million hits online.


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