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“Real Journalism” Explained at Last

Understanding things? No, not that

This post first appeared on Russia Insider


I have often heard the phrase “Real Journalism” (generally used in the sentence “RT, RIA/Novosti/Sputnik/insert-any-other-Russian-source, does not practise ‘Real Journalism’”). Always wondered what it meant. Now, thanks to an exchange between Mark Adomanis and a “Real Journalist” I do.

Adomanis wrote a piece for Forbes in which he pointed out that, according to the not especially Putin-friendly Levada polling centre, Putin’s popularity ratings were at an all time high. He concluded:

<figcaption>I guess Orwell wasn't a "Real Journalist" either</figcaption>
I guess Orwell wasn't a "Real Journalist" either

The point isn’t to defend Putin’s policies in Ukraine or the general trajectory of the Russian government. I’ve been extremely critical of both because both deserve to be criticized. The point is simply to note that the West’s policy so far has had precisely the opposite of its intended effect. Rather than weakening Putin and exposing him to expanded criticism, Western sanctions seem to have encouraged Russians to “rally ’round the flag.

One Oliver Bullough tweeted him, saying “My advice? Stop reporting Russia using numbers. More than anywhere Russia is about people.” The discussion continued and may be read here. Another revelation from Bullough: “So Mark, take your thinking a bit further...does Putin's increasing poll rating justify his actions since Feb?”

Now Bullough writes for a number of Main Stream Media outlets, New Statesman, Guardian, Wall Street Journal, New Republic and so forth and may therefore be considered to practise “Real Journalism”.

I, in my naiveté, had always wondered what this “Real Journalism” actually was as applied to Russia. So now, thanks to Mr Bullough, we know:

Stay away from data and condemn Putin’s actions.

Advocacy is what that sounds like to me but because Bullough is a “Real Journalist” I must be mistaken.

Propaganda is the deliberate dissemination of information that you know to be false or misleading in order to influence an audience” as someone put it. Condemning RT as it happened, not “Real Journalism”. Of course.


 

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