A Final Project Update and Thanks from the ‘Reframing Russia’ Team

As our project has formally wrapped up this summer, we would like to share the details of recent and forthcoming publications. Vera Tolz, Stephen Hutchings, Precious Chatterje-Doody and Rhys Crilley have co-authored and published an article, “Mediatization and Journalistic Agency: Russian Television Coverage of the Skripal Poisoning.” Investigating the case of Russian media coverage of the Skripal affair, the authors argue that even non-democracies must cope with the shaping of global communications by certain pervasive media logics and related market imperatives. In conditions where a range of media actors responded to unfolding events and to each other on multiple digital platforms, no state could assert narrative control over the Skripal incident. The article appears in the special issue of Journalism on Russian newsmaking, edited by Elisabeth Schimpfossl, Marielle Wijermars and Ilya Yablokov.

Additionally, a recently published article by our former Research Associate, Rhys Crilley, provides a new research agenda for studies of popular culture and world politics. You can access the article, published in International Studies Review, here.

Over the coming months, our project team will work on a co-authored manuscript, which will bring together and distil the key findings and arguments of the research the Reframing Russia project conducted since its inception. We hope it will be published in 2022. In addition to the book, a set of academic articles and chapters in edited volumes will be published in the coming months, following the formal conclusion of the project. These publications will include:

  1. Precious Chatterje-Doody and Lucy Birge’s co-authored chapter, “Russian Public Diplomacy: Questioning Certainties in Uncertain Times”. It will appear in a forthcoming Palgrave Macmillan book Public Diplomacy and the Politics of Uncertainty (2021), edited by Paweł Surowiec and Ilan Manor. Watch the recording of an online panel entitled “Media, politics and influence of Russia and Eurasian states”, where Precious and Lucy discuss the research underpinning their new chapter.
  2. Rhys Crilley and Precious Chatterje-Doody’s chapter, “Government mis/disinformation in war and conflict”, will appear in the forthcoming volume Routledge Companion to Media Misinformation and Populism. This book, edited by Howard Tumber and Silvio Waisbord, is due to be published in 2021.
  3. Ilya Yablokov and Precious Chatterje-Doody are co-authoring a book called Russia Today and Conspiracy Theories: Politics, People, Power. It will be published later in 2020 as part of the “Conspiracy Theories” Routledge series. Watch a recent talk where Ilya and Precious discuss their research and forthcoming book.

Several articles based on extensive empirical research by the Open University audience and social media research team have been submitted to academic journals and will be published in the coming months. Collaborative research on RT’s Twitter followers bringing into dialogue computational and social scientific methods by Rhys Crilley, Marie Gillespie, Bertie Vidgen and Alistair Willis provides important new insights into their demographic features and argues that exposure to RT does not mean either engagement with or endorsement of its content. Rhys Crilley, Marie Gillespie, Vitaly Kazakov and Alistair Willis co-authored a further article on Russian public diplomacy based on a case study of RT’s coverage of the 2018 World Cup and its international audience reception. The Open University team is currently compiling and analysing a significant corpus of diverse datasets gathered over the last three years (from big data to in-depth qualitative interviews) on RT’s audiences and social media users across different platforms. Additionally, Carolijn van Noort and Precious Chatterje-Doody have also co-authored a paper on Russian-Chinese media collaboration around the Belt and Road initiative. These papers will be published soon.

A Big ‘Thank You!’ from our Team

As our project comes to a formal conclusion, we want to take this opportunity to thank you for following our work over the past years. We are grateful to the long list of research participants and administrative staff at the Manchester and Open Universities, as well as the Arts and Humanities Research Council, who helped to facilitate our work. We are also grateful for the important contributions to and feedback on our research from many academic, media, policymaking and other colleagues, who helped to shape our thinking and outputs over the past three years. Many fruitful collaborations between our team members and external colleagues have resulted in a range of academic and public-facing outputs, as well as conference and media appearances.

We hope you will stay in touch with the members of our team and seek to access the announced publications. Our project website will remain online. Although we will no longer actively update it, you can still access the details of our completed works and past events, as well as a database of resources we compiled over the project’s duration. This catalogue of sources, also available in the Excel format via the link below, features: RT’s own reporting of key ‘media events’; a variety of government and think tank reports on ‘information war’ and ‘hybrid warfare’; academic journal articles; newspaper coverage of RT’s operations; web resources and video recordings. We wish the three PhD students affiliated with our project a successful completion of their dissertations in the coming months, and best of luck with ongoing research and new projects to all our collaborators and past members of our team.

“Emotions and war on YouTube: affective investments in RT’s visual narratives of the conflict in Syria” | New Journal Article Is Out Now

Recent studies in International Relations suggest that the political consequences of narratives and images of war are informed not only by their content and presentation but also their emotional effects. Few researchers, however, investigate how various audiences respond to such images and narratives in practice. A new article, co-authored by Dr Rhys Crilley and Dr Precious Chatterje-Doody, makes an important contribution the scholarship on the topic.

Their paper combines discourse analysis of RT ‘breaking news’ YouTube videos of Russian military intervention in Syria with analysis of 750 comments and social media interactions on those videos. The study demonstrates how RT layers moral and legal justifications for Russian intervention in multiple audio-visual formats, within a visual narrative of the conflict that relies on affective representations of key actors and events. The authors find that viewers largely approve of the content, replicate its core narratives and express emotions coherent with RT’s affective representation of the Syrian conflict. Audiences’ responses to these narratives and images of war were shaped by their affective investments in the identities and events portrayed on-screen.

The article contributes to our understanding of the political significance of images of armed conflict. It is available on early view in the journal Cambridge Review of International Affairs. Access the full article here.

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Dr Rhys Crilley, a former Research Associate on our project, will soon be starting his Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Glasgow.



Dr Precious Chatterje-Doody, a former Research Associate on our project, is now a Lecturer in Politics and International Studies at The Open University.