Author: Natalie Berner

World of
Russian Journalism

Lecture by Dr. Maria Anikina (MSU)


Written by Natalie Berner

Dr. Maria Anikina (

Dr. Maria Anikina gave us a lecture about the professional culture of Russian journalists. Anikina belongs to the Department of Sociology of Mass Communication which is chaired by Prof. Victor Kolomiets.

Redefining the research category journalist

During her speech Anikina described her project redefining the traditional research category journalist as it is confronted and mixed up with entities such as media activist or bloggers. She gave a brief overview how the subject of research journalist has been examined since the 1920’s. Further she emphasised the need of a scientific concept of post-journalism which also looks at the set of duties or the changing status of modern “information producers”.
Anikina is part of the World of Journalism Study by Prof. Hanitzsch (LMU Munich) and responsible for generating a Russian data base. The general approach of the study is to analyse different journalistic cultures on a societal, organizational and individual level. In Russia the researchers face a particular challenge as Anikina stated: since there is no official number of working journalists in Russia, no valid representative study was possible. However, according to estimates there should be between 150.000 and 250.000 Journalist working in Russia.
Anikina’s results show that the Russian journalist is often more interested in conveying a positive image and to set the political agenda rather than acting as watchdog, detached observer or to motivate people to participate.

Thus the journalist’s institutional role Russia is positioned rather close to those in Indonesia, China, Chile or Israel. In the dimension journalistic epistemology Russia is located between “making clear a better position” and “provide analysis”. This is quite the opposite of e.g. the US journalists who aim to “depict reality as it is”. Also in regard to the dimension ethical ideology Russia is far away from most of the western countries.

Generally the ethical standards are lower. Russia’s way seems to be more relativistic she said. Journalists would confirm that harm is always wrong (similar to Bulgaria, Pakistan and Chile) but they would not be in line with Austria, Switzerland, Germany, USA and Brazil, where journalists state that they “follow ethical principals” and “avoid questionable methods of reporting”.

Nevertheless 66 percent of polled Russian journalists are proud of calling themselves journalists and see themselves mostly as “neutral reporters”. Despite this, according to the study the social role of Russian journalists is the “dissemination of values” (85 per cent). As a factor in their carreer choice they see the profession as a good opportunity to develop and to collect symbolic capital in order to benefit from in other areas.

Only 25 per cent of polled Russian journalists say that they can trust the Russian people. On the other side the picture is not very different Anikina said:

Within society media, church and trade unions are not considered as very trustworthy, whereas the president and the military are kindly regarded and most trusted.

So according to Anikina, credibility is not only a problem in media but also in large parts of society.
How the era of “post-journalism” will develop and how research can keep up are questions Anikina and her Department will continue to look into.