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Losing Pravda
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Book description

What happens when journalism is made superfluous? Combining ethnography, media analysis, moral and political theory this book examines the unravelling of professional journalism in Russia over the past twenty-five years, and its effects on society. It argues that, contrary to widespread assumptions, late Soviet-era journalists shared a cultural contract with their audiences, which ensured that their work was guided by a truth-telling ethic. Post-communist economic and political upheaval led not so much to greater press freedom as to the de-professionalization of journalism, as journalists found themselves having to monetize their truth-seeking skills. This has culminated in a perception of journalists as political prostitutes, or members of the 'second oldest profession', as they are commonly termed in Russia. Roudakova argues that this cultural shift has fundamentally eroded the value of truth-seeking and telling in Russian society.


‘Natalia Roudakova brings deep ethnographic research, fluency in social theory, and an engaged ethical sense for the deep urgency of journalism to this thoughtful and essential book. Her account of the surprising career of Russian journalism - from its fall from grace as a moral outlet under the Soviets to its ‘prostitution' in a time of oligarchs, big money, and ‘kompromat' - offers not only a sparkling case study but a vision of the high societal stakes of journalism more generally. Losing Pravda presents us with an uncannily familiar media environment. The conditions that Roudakova analyses, such as fake news, sponsored content, swirling rumors and cynicism, punctuated here and there by the courageous few committed to telling the truth, are not unique to Russia. In a way, Roudakova has helped us understand not only the Russian scene, but also our own in the age of Donald J. Trump.'

John D. Peters - University of Iowa

'Changes in Russia’s press are vital to understanding the global media climate of today. … the book offers a thoughtful and useful discussion of how truth can slowly be erased from public discourse. Highly Recommended.'

J. R. Clardie Source: Choice

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