The ultimate (un-)reality show: identity and rebranding in Russian media events

In blurring the distinction between media producers and consumers, social media give rise to new models of information circulation and online identity construction. This panel interrogates the potential for identity reconstruction within the framework of the media event. The papers on this panel provide a comprehensive examination of Russian state media responses to the transformative potential of the media event – ranging from broadcast content to social media platforms. The cases under consideration include: state-linked media actors’ performances of history for online commemorative centennial projects; the transformative role of election campaigning and coverage on Ksenia Sobchak’s public persona; and how debates about the Russian Presidential elections have been covered on social media. Together, these papers give a comprehensive overview not only of how actors can employ media events for the rebranding of their own identities; but also of the responses this provokes from a neo-authoritarian state.