Media models of propaganda: the COVID-19 pandemic in Russian-language media with a “different opinion”

Media models of propaganda:
the COVID-19 pandemic in Russian-language media with a “different opinion”

Radina N.K.,

Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia; HSE University, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia,

elibrary_id: 417954 | ORCID: 0000-0001-8336-1044 | RESEARCHER_ID: L-6641-2015

Article received: 2022.05.02. Accepted: 2022.11.16

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2023.04.10

Rubric: Russia today

For citation:

Radina N.K. Media models of propaganda: the COVID-19 pandemic in Russian-language media with a “different opinion”. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No. 4. P. 138-151. (In Russ.). EDN: SBFJII

The study was supported by the Russian Science Foundation grant No. 22-28-00015.


The present study analyzes the discourse surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in three Russian-language media: (1) an independent Russian publication (7210 texts, 4.01 million words); (2) an independent online publication entered in the register of foreign agents (5930 texts, 1.19 million words); (3) a Russian-language version of a foreign government publication also included in the register of foreign agents (4634 texts, 2.47 million words)). The key theory is the propaganda model of E. Herman and N. Chomsky and the concept of cultural science, which explains how society can be studied by analyzing the statistics of texts created by society. The study is based on the articles of the publications gathered in a collection of texts in the period of 2020-2021 using the keywords “COVID-19”, “coronavirus”, “pandemic”. It was suggested that the studied media have different propaganda strategies in describing the pandemic, associated with editorial policy, according to the propaganda model of E. Herman and N. Chomsky. An analysis of the empirical material confirmed the hyposthesis that these media, while constructing the discourse of the pandemic, indeed chose different strategies and offered their own interpretations of the reality of the pandemic world. An independent Russian publication presented the pandemic in a consistent way with the main trends of the Russian-language media in general. The Russian-language foreign online publication included the topic of the pandemic in the leading “agenda” to prove its original position of resistance. The Russian-language version of a foreign government publication used the technique of discourse medicalization to describe the pandemic and also promoted ideas about the need for state control over society in a pandemic. The findings reveal that the propaganda strategies of the studied media about the pandemic are similar in describing threats, but they have differences due to editorial intentions, therefore, the research hypothesis was confirmed. In addition, the article offers an overview of the studies that create the theoretical field of propaganda and emphasizes the need to intensify research in the field of propaganda on the Russian-language socio-cultural material.

media discourse, media strategies, propaganda, Herman-Chomsky propaganda model, COVID-19 pandemic, media-foreign agent, opposition media.


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Content No. 4, 2023

See also:

Arbatova N.K.,
EU Security: Micro-Aggression with Macro-Consequences. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No5

Belousov A.B.,
Edward Bernays: from manipulating public opinion to engineering of consent. – Polis. Political Studies. 2012. No4

Antyukhova E.A.,
NATO in the Сrosshairs of COVID-19. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No3

Yevdokimov V.A.,
Propaganda in internet. – Polis. Political Studies. 2012. No4

Mchedlova M.M., Kazarinova D.B.,
COVID-19 Pandemic Challenge and Religion: Ontology vs Politics. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No4



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