The image of the EAEU in the US and UK media: expert analytics

The EMSC editorial board spoke with the director of the Eurasian Media Studies Center of the Faculty of Journalism of Lomonosov Moscow State University Dr. Olga Vikhrova about the image of the Eurasian Economic Union being formed and broadcast to the audience of the US and UK media today.

What is the image of the Eurasian Economic Union in the Western media?

An image is a purposefully formed stable identity of a territory.  No systematic work on its construction has been carried out since the founding of the EAEU until the current 2021. No strategic planning documents or specific regulatory legal acts regulating this problematic field have also been adopted by the EEC, thus so far, we can only talk about the image of the integration association in the foreign media. 

What is this image?

There are two main thematic dominants in the American news media, neither of which corresponds to reality.

The results of a content analysis of 15 leading online media in the USA for 2014-2020 showed that most of the materials about the Union or mentioning it are characterized by a negative emotional tone. At that the EAEU is presented to the audience not as an economic integration association, but as a personal project of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, focused on the restoration of the Soviet Union and the establishment of the Russian domination in the post-Soviet space. The authors of a number of publications even claim that other republics join the Union under constraint, against their will.

If we talk about the second thematic dominant, then in the rest of the materials, which are characterized by a negative narrative, the viability of the Eurasian Economic Union as such is questioned. 

To summarize, the American media present the Eurasian Economic Union as an integration association disputable from the point of view of viability, established on the initiative of the President of the Russian Federation with the aim to reconstitute the Soviet Union, consisting of powerful and solely dominant Russia, as well as the republics that joined under its pressure.

What kind of media are you talking about when you mention negatively laden materials? Are there “front-runners” in this anti-Eurasian rhetoric?

If we are talking about the mentions of the EAEU in the US news, then the negative tone prevails in the materials of NBC News (100%), The Washington Post (75%),The Guardian (73,7%), New York Times (66,7%), BBC News (62.5%), Fox News (50%) and Mail Online (45.5%). At the same time, it is important to understand that we are not talking about huge numbers, the total number of mentions is extremely small. For example, if we are talking about NBC, the total number of materials for seven years is only 3 pieces, by The Washington Post – 8, The Guardian 29,New York Times – 3, BBC News – 16, Fox News – 10 and Mail Online – 11.

As you can see, the “front-runners” in terms of the ratio of the number of materials and negativity are the British media, which are included in the rating of the most popular news media in the United States on a par with the American ones and therefore equally influence the formation of the audience’s perception of the integration association.

At content analysis of the British media materials for the same period, one realizes that the rhetoric of the United States is much softer and less harmful, if this term can be appropriate in the context of information warfare at all. The American journalists, along with the British ones, actively use emotional and evaluative vocabulary, but it is safe to say that the “degree of aggression” in the Western media is inversely proportional to the territorial remoteness from the countries of the Union. You will not find in the American media such materials as “The gangster’s games: By endorsing Putin’s murderous and corrupt regime, the Olympic movement has allowed itself to be hijacked by evil – as it once was by Hitler” or “The 6ft 7in boxing champ fighting to halt Vladimir Putin’s blood soaked new war on the West” (both materials by Daily Mail).

Does the rhetoric of the American and British media coincide, since we are talking about the latter?

Only partially. In most news materials in the UK, the Eurasian Economic Union is characterized as a “Kremlin project” created to counter the European Union. The integration association is called not only a “rival of the EU” and “an entity in opposition to the EU”, but even a “counter-model of the EU”. The already familiar to us horror story about the re-creation of the USSR is in second place in the British media. Interestingly, against the background of the rest of the British media, The Guardian is absolutely harmless, offering only 48% of the materials with a negative emotional tone from the total number of publications about the EAEU. The average indicator of The Daily Mail Online, The Independent and The Sun is about 52%, of the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Telegraph and BBC News – over 65%, and Channel 4 News demonstrates 100%. At the same time, the total number of materials is also very small and amounts to 94 pieces.

Has the image of the EAEU been transformed in the Western media from 2014 to the present?

No, since 2017, the Eurasian Integration Union has not actually been present in the information space of the West. The number of mentions is currently negligible. The number of materials mentioning the EAEU in the United States from 2014 to 2020 decreased from 45 to 4, in the British media – from 36 to 2. The exception is a one-time increase in the number of materials in the American media, observed in April 2019. A wave of interest from journalists was caused by the positive assessment of the Russian President Vladimir Putin of the prospects for the integration of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Chinese initiative “One Belt, One Road”, as the head of the state said during his speech at the same-name international forum in Beijing.

Is the lack of systematic work aimed at construction of the image of the EAEU in foreign media due to the lack of practical need for this?

In the context of building international relations, it is extremely important to have accurate data on what characteristics the image formed by the media has in the minds of representatives of various audiences. A negative attitude towards the EAEU countries, which can be formed by a mass audience amid the international information confrontation with inaction or insufficiently coordinated countermeasures to form an image on the part of the states themselves, can lead to stagnation of various industries (starting with tourism), negatively affect exports, the attractiveness of the single labour market, and serve as a barrier to increasing foreign investment. 

Strengthening the positions of the EAEU on the world stage, both in terms of expanding trade and economic relations with third countries, and from the standpoint of maintaining geopolitical stability in the region, should be accompanied by purposeful work on information support for Eurasian integration, focused not only on the information space of the participating countries, but also on external media markets. And if attention has been paid to raising awareness of the population of the member countries about the EAEU in the last two years, which is confirmed by the inclusion of an item on ensuring broad access of the population of the countries to information about the Union in the Strategy for the Development of Eurasian Economic Integration until 2025, the issue of working with foreign media space remains open.

Academic mobility in the EAEU space: a view from Armenia

The editorial staff of Eurasian  Media Studies Center had a talk with Zhan Baghiyan, the Deputy Executive Director for Academic Affairs of Lomonosov Moscow State University branch in Yerevan about the standardization of journalism faculty programs and the prospects for the cooperation development between universities in the EAEU.

– Among the strategic directions for the development of Eurasian Integration until 2025, spheres like education and science have for the first time been included since the establishment of the EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union). How do you assess the prospects for economic integration in these areas?

This is the right step. In my opinion, science and education in the EAEU countries are underestimated. Meanwhile, these countries have huge potential, which was once successfully utilized within the framework of the Soviet education system. It is necessary to restore the lost scientific ties and establish new channels of cooperation.

– Some experts talk about the need to create a unified education system within the EAEU. How do you assess this perspective?

The EAEU is an established multidisciplinary structure: economists, lawyers, IT sphere, marketing, public relations: almost all specialties can be in demand here, even linguists-translators. For example, our colleagues have recently approached us with a request to provide translators, since it has become necessary to translate a lot of documents, acts, and resolutions into Armenian. The universities of the participating countries can only unite, synchronize the educational process, curricula,  course guides for the needs of the platform and release specialists, researchers, employees for the organization.

– What areas of international partnership in the field of education are the most relevant today and which of them can be applicable within the framework of organizing cooperation between universities in the EAEU?

In the world practice, successful projects in the field of education have been developed for decades, which are intensively implemented in the EAEU countries. All of them, as a rule, pursue the same goals: stimulating academic mobility programs, exchanging young specialists, improving the qualifications of the professional level of lecturers. The principle of operation of the most successful of them, such as the Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, can also be applicable to the model of the development of education and science in the EAEU, taking into account the specifics of local realities.

– Does it make sense to develop uniform educational standards in journalism or create networked universities for the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union? 

Absolutely. And the standards must be regulated at the state level. In Armenia, for example, there is a large number of foreign donor and professional organizations, whose programs and courses in journalism are not regulated by the state. As a result, services in journalism education can be provided by any organization with financial resources. As far as network universities are concerned, of course, academic mobility will only increase the opportunities for professional growth for journalists and improve the quality of their training.

– How do you assess the prospects for the implementation of joint master’s programs in journalism and training programs for highly qualified personnel in the EAEU?

This is an interesting and rather unexplored niche. I think that the faculty of journalism at Lomonosov Moscow State University should become the flagship in this area. Taking into account the huge experience of Moscow State University, which has been successfully carrying out educational activities in the EAEU countries through its branches for several decades, the implementation of such programs can be more productive if the branches of Moscow State University are involved. Thus, the branches can become a link between the Parent University and local universities in the implementation of such programs.

– What factors are currently hindering the expansion of cooperation between universities and the development of academic mobility in the EAEU? For example, if we consider the experience of cooperation between journalism faculties in the post-soviet space.

The expansion of cooperation between universities of the EAEU countries is just a matter of time. There are no obstacles, there is a mutual decision of the participating countries on cooperation in the field of science and education, which means that the mechanism has already been launched, and in the near future we are going to see the first results. A striking example is the creation of the Center for Eurasian Media Research on the basis of the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University, which has brought together the specialists from EAEU universities. As for journalism education, we already have vivid experience of cooperation with the faculty of journalism of Moscow State University. Since 2015, more than 40 highly-qualified employees of the faculty, headed by Dean Elena Vartanova, have been seconded to the branch. During this period, MSU specialists have not only ensured the educational process, but also conducted open lectures, round tables, master classes for acting journalists of the republic, students and teachers from Armenian universities, and the wide academic community.

– What opportunities does your faculty offer to students of EAEU universities today?

Education in the branch is currently conducted in six areas for the bachelor’s degree. We are also implementing master’s programs in the field of economics, international relations and jurisprudence. Within the limits of this period, we have had graduates in bachelor’s and master’s programs. The graduates with MSU diplomas have joined the ranks of specialists both in Armenia and abroad. Most of our students are citizens of Russia and other EAEU member countries. The curricula necessarily contain components related to legal, economic, political or international integration in the EAEU. Various types of internship are conducted in the relevant structural divisions and local departments of the EAEU in the republic. It is important to emphasize that we provide an opportunity for all students to receive high-quality education of the main university of Russia in accordance with the standards and curricula of MSU from the best professors of Russia, and all this is on the territory of Armenia.

The leading universities of the EAEU countries have teamed up for joint research in the field of information support for Eurasian integration

MSU Faculty of Journalism contracted with the universities of Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan to promote scholarly and educational cooperation. Celebratory signing was held via Zoom on June 4.

The event was conducted in a festive atmosphere, with solemn welcome speeches given by Heads of the educational institutions Prof. Erlan Sidikov (L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University), Prof. Dmitry Medvedev (Belarusian State University), Prof. Nina Kevorkova (Institute of Media, Advertising and Film Production of Russian-Armenian University), and Prof. Altin Asanova (Bishkek Humanities University). The Faculty of Journalism was represented by the Dean, Academician of RAS, Prof. Elena Vartanova.

In her welcoming address, Prof. Elena Vartanova emphasized that these agreements are of utmost importance for the Faculty of Journalism, since they open up a new path of international cooperation with the universities of EAEU member states. This cooperation will be fostered as an important development trajectory of Eurasian Media Studies Center founded by the Faculty to enhance the interaction of the EAEU countries in the field of media studies, as well as activate the Eurasian dialogue in media.

CEO of EMSC, coordinator of educational and research programs with the EAEU countries Dr. Olga Vikhrova explained that the main task of the Center is to unite the intellectual potential of states in order to organize interaction between leading centers of journalism education in the field of media research, journalism and media systems of the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, as well as exchange of experience in professional training of qualified personnel, which will contribute to the subsequent intensification of the Eurasian dialogue in the media.

The Eurasian Media Studies Center has an Instagram account – @eurasiamsu

We hasten to share the happy news! The Eurasian Media Studies Center has an Instagram account now!

Now we have another platform where we can share with you interesting information about the EAEU, research on the media systems of the Union member states and much more!

The aim of the EMSC is to unite the intellectual potential of the member states in order to enhance the interaction of the leading centres of journalistic education of the EAEU countries in the field of media studies and training of qualified personnel, as well as the subsequent activation of the Eurasian dialogue in media.

Follow our account @eurasiamsu and track the news!

Russian journalism and culture in the global context: the first master’s program in English at the Faculty of Journalism Lomonosov Moscow State University

Are you interested in the unique historical path of Russian journalism and its current position in the global media environment? Do you want to orient your journalism career towards Russian cultural context? Get a first-hand view of Russian media system and explore how Russian media landscape is formed, and how it currently functions as part of the global information space? Our internationally oriented Master’s program Russian Journalism and Culture in the Global Context program is designed to train students from all over the globe to become journalists with advanced professional skills and in-depth knowledge of Russian cultural, social, and political realities.
Master’s program begins in September. Application process will take place from June 15 till July 20. To apply for the program, please send your CV and a short motivation letter explaining why you are interested in the program, what are your expectations, and why you are the right student for this program.

Submission of documents will be carried out in remote access on MSU online platform webanketa.msu.ru.  Online entry exam is scheduled for June 24 and July 23.

Requirements for admission are BA or MA degree in any subject and English proficiency level of B2.

E-mail for applications: int_pkjourn@mail.ru 

More details available at: http://www.journ.msu.ru/downloads/2021/Master-progr-3.pdf

EEC welcomes foundation of the Eurasian Media Studies Center of the Faculty of Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University

Today, humanitarian, educational and information cooperation between the countries of
the Eurasian Economic Union is of particular importance. These provisions are laid in
the Strategic Development Directions of the Eurasian Economic Integration until 2025,
approved by the heads of the EAEU states on December 11, 2020. Ensuring wide
access to information about the Union for the public and increasing the openness of the
Commission’s activities is one of the points of Strategy 2025. 
In this context, the foundation of the Center is of particular importance. We are confident
that your work will contribute to the implementation of Strategy 2025 and the formation
of a single information environment in the Eurasian space. For our part, we assure you
that we will provide full support to your affairs and the boldest initiatives! 
To your success in your important undertaking! 
Respectfully, Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasian Economic
Commission S.Yu. Glazyev