Thursday, May 26, 2011

RT. Did it again..

Yesterday, Russia Today TV came up with this apologetic segment, seemingly trying to explain and reinstate their relevance, importance, and... perhaps credibility.

I think a quick reminder is in place: credibility is attained not through repeated statements by oneself that they believe they are credible, but through actually gaining trust and proving, with actions and actual coverage (when referring to a news source) that the audience can rely on them for information. I am very glad to see that RT at least recognizes all this criticism. However, the way the network addresses the issue only makes it look more pathetic, undercutting its credibility (whatever exists of it) further.

Of course, as a major public diplomacy operation, such lack of RT's perceived credibility is a major issue for Russia, too, as it is inevitably associated - quite naturally - with the sponsoring country. Here are some suggestions for RT:

- Stop being so aware of your "difference" and act as a mature news organization (i.e. grow up!). As already mentioned, instead of trying to prove your credibility through constant statements and pathetic reminders of previous reports (such as the following), better try to get back from the fringes and provide more credible and more authoritative sources. In short, show, don't brag, and go much further beyond just telling.

- I guess one can appreciate RT's attempt to represent alternative, non-mainstream views. And yet, as noted many times on this blog, if audience and serious attention are what the network is striving for, it will have to reconsider this strategy. The latter is obviously inherited from the KGB operations in the good old times; but if RT wants to break the image of blunt propaganda or of being "Kremlin's mouthpiece" in the U.S., it has to be more than just accommodating to its audience.

- In the above report, RT is supposedly addressing the "obscure sources" criticism. But beyond these sources, it is also important to note the tone of the arguments and the complete lack of sensitivity to the intended audience. For example, the following report is a blunt criticism of a value that every American holds so dear. Then, there is also the problem of the implied assumption that by raising these issues about the U.S., RT can somehow exonerate the horrid situation in Russia or, with its magic wand, advance Russia's public diplomacy interests. I truly doubt any Americans were "converted away" by the following report... If anything, it only fed into RT's "propaganda" image.

- And last, but not least, suggestion: stop the tendency for such senseless sensationalism and the R-rated content. Seriously now, why would an international broadcaster, funded by taxpayer's money and intended for (even if indirectly) winning hearts and minds for Russia abroad feature the following video on their YouTube channel? That's, of course, nothing compared to some of the other programming featured by the network in the past...

Perhaps concern for credibility and voice should start right here? It's plain and simple.

After all, I haven't even touched upon the actual effect of the Kremlin connection yet...


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