Staunton, July 31 – The passing of Yasen Zasursky, the legendary head of the journalism faculty at Moscow State University, has provoked many bitter reflections about the state of what is called journalism in Russia today, but none is more bitter and angry than the one offered by Moscow commentator Dmitry Popov.
In a Moskovsky komsomlets essay, he says that it is always particularly sad when parents are forced to attend the funerals of their own children; and Zasursky in his last years experienced the tragedy of having to watch the burial of his own offspring with the passing of real journalism in Russia (mk.ru/politics/2021/08/01/v-rossii-pobedila-propaganda-rusofobii.html).
What has taken its place, Popov says, is “propaganda, brainwashing and appeals to the base demands of a public” which wants to consume rather than think.” And that in turn, he argues, has led Russians to drown in something of their own making because in many respects if one can stand outside it Moscow is advertising something that doesn’t exist.
It is insisting that the entire world is informed by Russophobia so as to correspond to Vladimir Putin’s portrayal of the situation. But the only way it can do that, the commentator continues, is by selective quotations. If those writing them up had been honest, they wouldn’t show any Russophobia at all.
He gives numerous examples of this pattern, but emblematic of them all is Russian coverage of the Olympics and of a call by the US Anti-Doping Agency for the results of the drug tests of all participants, including those from the US, be made publicly available so that everyone could be confident that no one was in violation.
But instead of reporting this appeal in a straightforward manner, Russian outlets presented it as being directed exclusively at Russia and reflecting the Russophobia of the Americans, Popov continues. If journalism were still alive in Russia, that wouldn’t happen or at least wouldn’t be allowed to stand.
But real journalism isn’t and this falsehood has been allowed to stand. It is truly unfortunate both for Zasursky that he lived to see this happen and for Russians who are suffering as all peoples do when they do not get accurate information but coverage distorted by whatever the powerful want to put forward.