Blogs as an Alternative Public Sphere: The Role of Blogs, Mainstream Media, and TV in Russia's Media Ecology

58 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2014 Last revised: 4 May 2014

Bruce Etling

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Hal Roberts

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Robert Faris

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: April 22, 2014

Abstract

Applying a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, we investigate whether Russian blogs represent an alternative public sphere distinct from web-based Russian government information sources and the mainstream media. Based on data collected over a one-year period (December 2010 through December 2011) from thousands of Russian political blogs and other media sources, we compare the cosine similarity of the text from blogs, mainstream media, major TV channels, and official government websites. We find that, when discussing a selected set of major political and news topics popular during the year, blogs are consistently the least similar to government sources compared to TV and the mainstream media. We also find that the text of mainstream media outlets in Russia (primarily traditional and web-native newspapers) are more similar to government sources than one would expect given the greater editorial and financial independence of those media outlets, at least compared to largely state-controlled national TV stations. We conclude that blogs provide an alternative public sphere: a space for civic discussion and organization that differs significantly from that provided by the mainstream media, TV, and government.

Suggested Citation

Etling, Bruce and Roberts, Hal and Faris, Robert, Blogs as an Alternative Public Sphere: The Role of Blogs, Mainstream Media, and TV in Russia's Media Ecology (April 22, 2014). Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2014-8. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2427932 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2427932

Bruce Etling (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Hal Roberts

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/hroberts

Robert Faris

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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