The Listening Post

The ‘all-out propaganda war’ in Ukraine

We analyse coverage of the Ukraine conflict, which has often been marred by a lack of nuance, context and subtlety.

With his troops occupying the region, Russian President Vladimir Putin was greeted as a hero upon his visit to the Crimean capital on May 9. The date was significant: the anniversary of the end of World War II. Back home on Russian television screens, Putin’s policy in Ukraine has been depicted as a valiant stand on behalf of Russian speakers against the same kind of fascism that Russia fought against in the Second World War.

That kind of coverage has been dismissed as “propaganda” in the West – but you do not have to go all the way to Moscow to find biased journalism. Western news outlets have also been criticised for reflecting, even parroting, what their domestic political leaders have been saying about this crisis. Our News Divide this week looks at the biased coverage on both sides of the Ukrainian story.

We hear from Voice of Russia political analyst Dmitry Babich; former Moscow correspondent and Russia expert David Satter; director of the US global engagement programme at the Carnegie Council, David Speedie; and director of NTV, Vladimir Kulistikov.

In our News Bytes this week: New footage shows Al Jazeera Arabic’s journalist Mohamed Elshamy’s deteriorating health as he continues to languish in government custody in Egypt.

In Thailand, anti-government protesters have laid siege to the public broadcaster to ensure that it is on point about the ousting of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. As the 25th anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square massacre approaches, there are signs that authorities in Beijing are taking steps to silence critical voices in the media. And the White House gets schooled on the power of the hashtag.

In this week’s feature, the Listening Post examines the Greek media landscape. Just a few years ago, Greece had a burgeoning media sphere. This is no longer the case. Since 2011, when the country’s economic crisis began, the media sector has witnessed carnage: More than 4,000 journalists have lost their jobs, and many more have taken significant pay cuts.

One of those journalists, Aris Chatzistefanou, was fired for what management called economic reasons, but he claims it was because he refused to toe the editorial line on the media’s pro-austerity narrative. The Listening Post’s Marcela Pizarro sat down with Chatzistefanou in London to get the story behind the coverage of the austerity push, the Greek media’s own financial crisis and the cumulative effect on freedom of expression in the birthplace of democracy. 

As the music industry increasingly turns music into a commodity, with songs as much of a marketing tool as advertising campaigns, Canadian Jon Lajoi parodies this phenomenon. His latest song deals with how musicians these days prioritise money over artistic integrity. With nearly two million hits online, “Please Use This Song” is our Web video of the week. We hope you enjoy the show.


Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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