Strategic narratives for international consumption: RT’s representations of international system, state, and security

Dr Precious Chatterje-Doody, The University of Manchester (Narrating Russian and Eurasian Security, King’s College, London, 18-19 June, 2018).

This paper explores the role of the RT TV in representing Russia for international audiences. It approaches RT as a potential consensus-building tool for the dissemination of key strategic narratives at three levels: that of the international system; stories of the state; and issue-specific narratives. The paper presents an in-depth analysis of the network’s output. It introduces the ways in which RT’s programming bolsters the Russian political elite’s strategic narrative of the global political economy and Russia’s place within it: by selective topics of focus; using specific modes of representation; and by repeating favoured themes. Via examination of RT’s narration of specific episodes covering international affairs, the domestic arena and additional ‘breaking news’ ruptures, the paper argues that the output of RT consistently redefines the international political, economic and security environment in ways coherent with revisionist objectives, and with Russia’s objectives within those. The use of populist communication logics helps tailor this output to appeal to networked groups at opposing ends of the political spectrum, exploiting their common predisposition to anti-Americanism; sympathy for Russia; and scepticism of the mainstream media.