Thursday, March 6, 2014

RT's Margarita Simonyan responds...

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, RT -- and particularly RT America -- is facing tough times now, with reporters expressing their disagreement with their employer's editorial policies (and one even quitting) on air. Today, RT's Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan published an op-ed clarifying her stance and bashing the "mainstream media" for not asking the right questions and engaging in an "information war".

Here's what she writes:
Yesterday I spent quite some time explaining to a New York Times correspondent why I consider Russia’s position to be right. I’m Russian. I support my country and I will fight for the truth for as long as it takes. Neither Abby, nor Liz, nor many other employees are Russian nationals, but foreign. And now their country is likening my country to Nazi Germany. For many years they have worked for RT in good faith, proving every day that a voice that stands out from the mainstream media can be beautiful and strong, attract an audience that grows daily. These are the people who were the first to tell their country about the Occupy movement, who were detained at protest rallies, handcuffed for hours and then tried in court for doing their job. These are the people who were outraged by US hypocrisy in Syria, Libya – you can finish the list yourself – and reminded the world who used chemical weapons most often, even resorting to nuclear bombs. These are the people who did things the Western mainstream media would have never done. But those were peaceful times. And now we’ve got a genuine war going on – no, thank God, it’s not in Crimea. It’s a media war. Every single day, every single hour the guys who work for us are told, “You are liars, you are no journalists, you are the Kremlin propaganda mouthpiece, you’ve sold yourselves to the Russians, it’s time you quit your job, and everybody is laughing at you, so change your mind before it’s too late.”
Read the whole thing here.

So, she might be right. RT might be bringing up points and issues and perspectives that are often overlooked in the American/Western mainstream media. However, success in information war -- a war over hearts and minds -- is not measured in terms of domination or the number of articles/reports put out, reflecting your viewpoint. Instead, success comes in form of gradual acceptance of, even if not agreement with, your viewpoint as a legitimate one. Achieving that through aggressive and imposing coverage -- like the one on RT -- is almost impossible, especially among Western audiences (remember the informational spheres I was referring to yesterday?).

More than anything, RT needs credibility and legitimacy with its target public, and if it means straying from the message a little to be more neutral in their coverage, especially in times of conflict, then so be it. Otherwise, I'm afraid, Ms. Simonyan's frustration is here to stay.

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