Seminar with Charles Crabtree (Dartmouth College)
Title of the presentation "Directing Attention during Sensitive Times: Agenda-setting on Russian state-controlled television, 2003-2018".
How do authoritarian governments use media to shape perceptions during politically-sensitive periods? We argue that during periods when regime control is more vulnerable to challenge, authoritarian governments have incentives and the ability to set media agendas that enhance the regime's image and redirect attention towards regime-friendly topics. In this paper, we analyze 15 years of news broadcasts from a state-controlled television station in Russia, Channel One, to examine how the composition of state-run news coverage changes in response to upcoming elections and changing economic conditions. We identify several distinct categories of news segments that are used to address the specific regime concerns that arise during politically-sensitive periods: increased coverage of positive economic news, stories that reaffirm the regime's governing ability (regime competence), stories that promote patriotic themes (prime national identity), and distraction in the form of entertainment and human interest stories (filler).