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‘Tabloids and an inferiority complex’: The business and political strategy behind the media's biased Russia coverage

26 minutes
‘Tabloids and an inferiority complex’: The business and political strategy behind the media's biased Russia coverage
00:0026:19

According to a report by the news agency “Rossiya Segodnya,” almost half of the articles in the foreign press about Russia are “negative.” This recent study leans heavily on the British media (which makes up more than a third of the entire sample), where nearly 40 percent of the selected coverage is supposedly biased against Russia. Meduza learned that hundreds of the articles Rossiya Segodnya examined in the British press share the same author: a man who’s worked in Russia since 1992 and now simply rewrites blurbs he finds in Russian tabloids, selected for him by Russian staff working at his news agency.

To find out more about this peculiar individual and learn why the Russian authorities devote resources to studies like the one released this fall, “The Naked Pravda” spoke to Meduza's head of investigative reporting, Alexey Kovalev, who profiled Stewart’s bizarre career in journalism in an article this October, and to media scholars Sarah Oates and Vasily Gatov.

In this episode:

  • (2:47) Alexey Kovalev explains how he found out about Will Stewart, a prolific British reporter in Moscow who turned to tabloids after years of serious journalism.
  • (9:46) Sarah Oates argues that officials in Moscow shouldn't be surprised by the Western media's Russia coverage, and it's the trivialization of Russia that's really vexing.
  • (16:09) Vasily Gatov describes the “symbiosis” of security functionaries and public relations spin doctors who guide state decision making in Russia.
  • (24:28) Concluding remarks by your host, Kevin Rothrock.

“The Naked Pravda” comes out on Fridays. Catch every new episode by subscribing at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or other platforms. If you have a question or comment about the show, please write to Kevin Rothrock at kevin@meduza.io with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”

Producer, sound editing, and mixing — Kevin Rothrock

Executive producer — Alexandr Sadikov

Music — Victor Davydov

Send any questions or comments to kevin@meduza.io