For most of the world’s citizens Russia has throughout history looked like a rather violent, authoritarian state. But for Russia’s part to make themselves look better they have launched projects to explain their ideas and actions to the outer world. One of these projects, called “Radio Moscow”, was started during the Cold War(http://www.cjr.org/feature/what_is_russia_today.php). But, in 2005 Russia launched state-funded 24-hour news channel called Russia Today, a channel, that has roots in that same “Radio Moscow” ( http://www.cjr.org/feature/what_is_russia_today.php). RT’s goal is to give the world a view from Russia’s point of view. It is understandable for them to do so considering that the news market is largely dominated by western news sources. And one can assume, these western news channels like CNN, BBC, Fox news, being rather more biased towards the western values instead of Russian ones. But for West, the problem with RT lies in its straight connection to Kremlin. There are undeniable facts that prove that the channels news feed is controlled by the supreme power in Kremlin. Like for example during Russia’s conflict with Georgia, a young correspondent called William Dunbar, broadcasted something that was out of boundaries for Kremlin and he was told to leave the post straight after (http://www.cjr.org/feature/what_is_russia_today.php). Another example would be the week after the opposition leader Boris Nemtsov’s assassination when a massive march began in Moscow to protest Nemtsov’s murder. RT did not cover that march and instead opted to show a documentary at the time about American racism and xenophobia (http://time.com/rt-putin/).
Russia state-funded RT in 2005 with 30 million dollars(https://www.occupycorporatism.com/russia-today-state-funded-propaganda-masquerading-as-alternative-media/). In 2016, according to Moscow Times, the funding will be 307 million dollars(https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/russia-cuts-state-spending-on-rt-news-network-50194). By comparison BBC World Service Group which includes TV, radio and online news distribution had a budget of 376 million dollars for the year of 2014/2015 (http://time.com/rt-putin/). So Russia has increasingly been putting in a lot of money in their soft power tool to influence people’s opinions around the world.
In the Western media, Russia Today(RT) is often seen as a “propaganda machine” that undermines western values and promotes Russian ideas. A rather interesting position taken here by Bradford MP George Galloway:
Since its opening, they have quickly mixed into the scene of news channels such as BBC, CNN and Al-Jazeera. With the increasing funding, the channel now has over 2000 employees across the world alongside with channels not only in English but also in Spanish and Arabic(http://www.cjr.org/feature/what_is_russia_today.php).
The soft power tool has been very controversial, it is considered being an extension of President Vladimir Putin’s confrontational foreign policy. Konstantin Prebrazchensky- a globalist in Russia came out saying that RT is “a part of the Russian industry of misinformation and manipulation”( https://www.occupycorporatism.com/russia-today-state-funded-propaganda-masquerading-as-alternative-media/).
Channel is known to be hiring young students straight out of the university, offering them good money and training on the job. For many young journalists see that as a kick-start to their careers on the field. Although there are rather interesting examples of their young journalists quitting their jobs on live coverage, like for example Liz Wahl is doing here:
But the channel does not see any trouble hiring young students. Many benefits and good salary offered will always keep bringing them new employees.
To sum up, it is very hard in current information era for people to make their minds on information they are being fed. Like we saw in the recent American elections, many fake news got produced in order to influence people’s decisions. To have a better understanding of the on-goings in the world, people should do wider research on information. Using RT as a source is anyone’s choice.
1) Julia Ioffe, September/October 2010, “What Is Russia Today?”, available at http://www.cjr.org/feature/what_is_russia_today.php (accessed on 7th of December 2016)
2)Simon Shuster, March 2015, “The global news network RT is the Russian government’s main weapon in an intensifying information war with the West—and its top editor has a direct phone line to the Kremlin”, available at http://time.com/rt-putin/ , accessed on 7th of December 2016
3)Susanne Posel, May 2013, “Russia Today: State-Funded Propaganda Masquerading as Alternative Media”, available at https://www.occupycorporatism.com/russia-today-state-funded-propaganda-masquerading-as-alternative-media/ , accessed on 7th of December 2016
4) The Moscow Times, October 2015, “Russia Cuts State Spending on RT News Network”, available at https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/russia-cuts-state-spending-on-rt-news-network-50194 , accessed on 7th of December 2016