Olympic Games can present an important opportunity for boosting the international image of a host country, but also for consolidating domestic public support. Particularly in authoritarian contexts, Olympic Games can be used by authorities to increase their legitimacy and to facilitate nationalistic outbursts in support of the regime. Managing media coverage, therefore, becomes a crucial instrument for non-democratic regimes prior to and during the games. Repnikova and Minina will examine how Russian authorities managed the media coverage of the Sochi Olympics by analyzing media discourse of the event. The two speakers will focus primarily on national media, while also examining the blogosphere and Sochi-based news outlets. They will draw contrasts between traditional and new media, as well as between state media and independent voices in carrying out the official objectives. Repnikova and Minina will argue that while most of the coverage carried a patriotic fervor, a minority of media outlets, especially digital ones, uncovered governance failures linked to the official determination to host the Olympic Games. Their presentation, therefore, critically assesses the potential for Russian media to play a propaganda role during critical events, providing important insights about the evolution of the Russian regime with regard to the management of the media and public opinion in the post-digital era.
About the speakers:
Maria Repnikova is the 2014-2015 PARGC Postdoctoral Fellow. Maria holds a PhD (DPhil) in political science from University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar and a Wai Seng Senior Scholar. Her current research focuses on state-media relations in China, drawing some comparisons to Russia and the Soviet Union. In the past, she has researched Chinese migration to Russia as a Fulbright Scholar, and the political aspects of China's journalism education for her master's dissertation. Her work appeared in academic publications, as well as in media outlets, including Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera English, and Russia's Vedomosti. Maria also has professional experience in the media and communications sector as the Overseas Press Club fellow for Reuters agency in Beijing, and an intern for Google communications team in London and Moscow. She speaks fluent Mandarin, Russian and Spanish. As a PARGC fellow, Maria will be reworking her doctoral dissertation into a book manuscript, as well as examining China’s evolving approaches to crisis communication and comparing the media environment in China and Russia in more detail. She tweets at @MariaRepnikova.
Elena Minina is a social scientist and cultural analyst specializing in Russian studies and comparative education. Her current research focuses on contemporary Russian culture, politics and education, as well as on neoliberal educational change worldwide. Elena has done research at a number of world-class educational institutions, including the European University-St. Petersburg, Oxford University and the University of California-Berkeley. She has conducted fieldwork and research in various cross-cultural environments, including Russia, the US, the UK, Finland, Sierra Leone and Sudan Elena holds a PhD (DPhil) from the University of Oxford and is currently serving as a Researcher with the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, before taking up a professorship post with the Institute of Education, Higher School of Economics, Moscow.