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Losing Pravda
Ethics and The Press in Post-Truth Russia


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  • Date Published: September 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316629772

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Explores the devaluation of truth-seeking in contemporary Russia, appealing to those interested in Putinism and the role of journalism in political and social transformation
    • Draws on understanding of relations between journalism and politics beyond the Russian media and will be accessible to lay readers and scholars from different backgrounds, such as cultural anthropology, communication studies and moral philosophy
    • Diversifies political communication research methodology by emphasising qualitative methods, in contrast to the dominant quantitative and behavioural trends
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    • Winner, 2017 Frank Luther Mott - Kappa Tau Alpha Journalism and Mass Communication Research Award, Kappa Tau Alpha

    Reviews & endorsements

    '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, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316629772
    • length: 274 pages
    • dimensions: 233 x 167 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.41kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Ethics and politics in Soviet journalism
    2. Journalism and capitalism: the first encounter
    3. From the fourth estate to the second oldest profession
    4. The spiral of cynicism in the 2000s
    5. Trying a life without irony in the early 2010s

  • Author

    Natalia Roudakova, University of California, San Diego
    Natalia Roudakova is Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of California, San Diego. Educated in both the Soviet Union and the United States, she draws on her linguistic, political and social knowledge of the region. Her work combines cultural anthropology, political communication, political theory, moral philosophy, and the study of Russian history and contemporary society and culture.


    • Winner, 2017 Frank Luther Mott - Kappa Tau Alpha Journalism and Mass Communication Research Award, Kappa Tau Alpha
    • Winner, 2018 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize, Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
    • Co-winner, 2018 Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies, Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
    • Winner, 2018 ICA Outstanding Book Award, International Communication Association
    • Winner, 2018 Journalism Studies Division Book Award, International Communication Association

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