“It’s not a war.” The difficult role of the media in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia

Although we could argue that “perfect dictatorships” have disappeared from the face of the earth, it is true that today more than ever “democratic” regimes abound that actually operate more as a dictatorship or plutocracy than as a democracy. There are many examples, levels of authoritarianism and organizations that balance power. Fortunately, the role of the media has always served as a magnificent regulator against abuses of power and every day we see encouraging examples of this.

In the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the role of the media in recent days has not been an exception. The voices of multinational networks, stations and local newspapers as well as bloggers, columnists, influencers and celebrities have been an excellent means of countering Putin’s anger.

The threats and control mechanisms that the Russian regime has tried to impose on freedom of expression are carried out by the media regulator, known as Roskomnadzor. Through this organization, controlled by the Kremlin, the Putin government has threatened twenty media outlets and journalists about the use of “false, unreliable and highly significant information for society.” According to the international network Al Jazeera, words like “war”, “invasion” or “attack” should not be used by the media. In the same way, the media is invited to divulge the information distributed only by the Kremlin via the official channels. Outside of Russia, several countries have banned or disappeared official Russian channels as the fight over the dissemination of information between the two powers intensifies.

At the same time, there is significant social pressure towards the giants of social networks to stop and prevent the dissemination of false and incorrect information about reality in open forums such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Meanwhile, the Kremlin has approached Meta and Netflix to demand that they post the “official” information on their platforms. It will be interesting to see in the coming days the measures that Meta and Netflix take in this regard, after the catastrophic collapses in the value of their shares in recent weeks.

Who has already taken a clear position is Apple. On Tuesday this week, the company said it was “deeply concerned” about the Russian invasion and that, in response, it had “halted all product sales” in the country. Apple also said it will limit access to digital services, such as Apple Pay, inside Russia and restrict the availability of Russian state media apps outside the country immediately.

TV audiences are up

On the other hand, in his Spectro column, Javier Tejada comments on the increase in audiences for primetime newscasts both in Mexico (16%) and in the United States (30%). He highlights the audience of 6.6 million viewers for Denise Maerker’s Televisa newscast last Thursday.

Antonio Aja

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