Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What would George Orwell say?

When the news gets tough, the tough take control. No, that's not quite it.

Russia’s Putin signs law extending Kremlin’s grip over media
In a move that will significantly constrict Russia’s fast-shrinking space for independent reporting, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed into law a measure that will curtail foreign ownership of media outlets in his country.

The decision extends the Kremlin’s control over some of Russia’s most prominent independent publications…

The move comes as Russia’s powerful state-run media has labored round-the-clock to glorify Putin and denigrate groups perceived to be the nation’s enemies…

Even though Putin long ago consolidated his control over television and many print news outlets, there had been independent options for the smaller set of Russians who sought alternative voices for news, and the Internet was a particularly unregulated space. But over the past year, one news source after another has been blocked, closed or editorially redirected…

The law deals the sharpest blow to Russia’s most prominent independent daily newspaper, Vedomosti, which aspires to Western standards of journalism.

Vedomosti is co-owned by a tri-national consortium — Dow Jones, the Financial Times Group and Sanoma, a Finnish media company — and focuses on business reporting, a sensitive topic given Russia’s tanking economy and dim prospects for the future. The newspaper has chronicled the troubles of Russia’s most powerful companies as the economy has slowed and Western sanctions have taken hold…

For the Kremlin, “in general it’s easier to have controlled media than non-controlled media,” said Elizaveta Osetinskaya, a former editor of Forbes Russia who is now the editor in chief at the RBC Group, a business-focused media consortium owned by Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov. It also seeks to report independent news and was the first national news outlet to report in August about the funerals of Russian soldiers who died fighting in eastern Ukraine.

“Right now society doesn’t think it needs free media,” Osetinskaya said…

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