Losing Pravda: Ethics and the Press in Post-Truth Russia

Losing Pravda: Ethics and the Press in Post-Truth Russia

About the book

Post-Truth” might be Russia’s greatest export to the world yet. Combining ethnography, media analysis, political theory, and moral philosophy, Roudakova examines how journalism and its truth-seeking ethic was made superfluous in Russia over the past twenty five years ; and the powerful effect that has produced on society. Contrary to widespread assumptions, Roudakova argues that late Soviet-era journalists shared a cultural contract with their audiences, which ensured that their work was guided by a truth-seeking ethic. Post-communist economic and political upheaval led not so much to greater press freedom as to the deprofessionalization 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. “Fake news,” kompromat, swirling rumors and cynicism, punctuated here and there by the courageous few committed to telling the truth but distrusted or dismissed even by peers, became the feature of the day in Russia. Roudakova argues that this cultural shift has fundamentally eroded the very value of truth-seeking and telling in Russian society. Beyond Russia, this work illustrates what could happen to a country ‘ s public life when collective truths are regularly displaced by systematic falsehoods and fabrications.


About the speaker

Dr. Natalia Roudakova is a cultural anthropologist working in the field of political communication and comparative media studies. She has a broad interest in moral philosophy and political and cultural theory. Educated in both the Soviet Union and the United States (Ph.D. in Cultural and Social Anthropology, Stanford University, 2007), Roudakova worked as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication, University of California in San Diego, and is a visiting scholar at EUR’s Media and Communication department.

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Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture