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university of tampere: faculty of communication sciences:
Faculty of Communication SciencesUniversity of Tampere The School of Communication, Media and Theatre

Doctoral Defence of MA Dmitry Yagodin

The Blogization of Journalism. SAT 17.5.2014 12.00



The Blogization of Journalism. How blogs politicize media and social space in Russia. Linna building, auditorium K103, address Kalevantie 5.

MA Dmitry Yagodinin will publicly defend his doctoral dissertation on the field of journalism

The Blogization of Journalism. How blogs politicize media and social space in Russia

The opponent is PhD Bart Cammaerts (London School of Economics and Political Science). Professor Risto Kunelius is the custos.



The Blogization of Journalism. How blogs politicize media and social space in Russia

Blogization is the term that describes the current state of Russian journalism and considers its broader implications for political and social life. This research argues that convergence and mass “produsage” culture dissolves boundaries between mass and interpersonal communications; that the stability of traditional mass media in Russia is secured by the strategic control and support of the state; that online media are less susceptible to the influence of the state. Accordingly, blogization becomes a challenging factor for the otherwise prevalent journalistic model of statist commercialism. There is also evidence that the Russian political system tries to co-opt, depoliticize, and at times disrupt the uncontrolled advances of the blogosphere. Journalists and bloggers, less controlled by the state and critical of the Kremlin, rely on the dense digital networks of social capital and the journalistic capital of peer-recognition. This is demonstrated by cases of blogger Aleksey Navalny and journalist Leonid Parfenov as examples of blogization’s potential to create alternative centers of political capital.

The project’s core empirical data includes eight examples of mass media and eight Russian bloggers, who are all important actors in the blogization process. The media sub-sample does not claim to be exhaustive or strictly representative of the Russian media landscape. It is however relatively diverse in terms of political, economic and technological contexts. It includes three types of media: television as the medium with the largest audience; newspapers targeted to specific social groups; and online publications popular among younger generations, the middle class and intellectuals. The sub-sample of bloggers includes individuals with large readerships who come from various backgrounds and professional orientations: pro-Kremlin and oppositional bloggers, trained journalists and blogging celebrities. It also covers different genres ranging from investigative and opinionated reporting, to facts, aggregate stories, and daily life reflections.

The initial overview of relations between journalism and blogging is based on official reports and media statistics. Qualitative findings are drawn from textual examples of where and how discussions of journalism and blogging appear and evolve over time. These texts cover a time period from March 2003 through to June 2013. While various sets of quantitative data provide contextual background, the qualitative data highlights crucial examples of the development of relations between journalism and blogging in Russia.

Blogization is a highly contested term where various meanings are attached to ideas of journalistic autonomy, credibility, subjectivity, and responsibility. Analysis of mass media and blogs reveals that the very use of the words “journalist” and “blogger” serves as catalyst for undecidability. The key finding in this respect is that blogization does not split the “new” journalistic space directly into journalists and bloggers, but this borderline creates the more complex structures of identification.

This work also addresses the formation and contestation of the discourse of blogization in Russia. It argues that blogization as a discourse becomes divided along old philosophical traditions of slavophilism and westernism. These two traditions are sources for two competing discourses: hegemonic conservative and liberal counter-hegemonic. Hegemony is secured by the conservative forces who control the mainstream mass media in ways similar to the ideas of slavophiles. Its dominance rests upon an image of responsible journalism that criticizes the credibility of some marginal blogging, and justifies the lack of media autonomy by equating it with chaos. Counter-hegemony is based on the ideas of westernism and often labeled as “liberal.” Westernism in blogization relies on the values of individual autonomy, freedom, subjectivity, and the diversity of styles.

The past years of commercialization, political clientelism and media self-censorship have all but marginalized what remains of Russia’s independent and socially committed journalism. The difference between late Soviet glasnost and glasnost based on new media phenomena (glasnost 2.0) is that the former had been a top-down conscious decision, whereas the latter is mostly a bottom-up spontaneous movement. In the end, this difference is crucial.


Dmitry Yagodin completed his Master of Arts degree at the Saint Petersburg State University in Russia.

Yagodin's dissertation is published in the series Acta Universitatis Tamperensis; 1934, Tampere University Press, Tampere 2014. ISBN 978-951-44-9450-5, ISSN 1455-1616. . The disseration is also available online at Acta Electronica Universitatis Tamperensis; 1418, Tampere University Press 2014. ISBN 978-951-44-9451-2, ISSN 1456-954X.

The disseration can be ordered from Granum Virtual Bookstore, or by e-mail: kirjamyynti@juvenes.fi.

For more information please contact: Dmitry Yagodin, dmitry.yagodin@uta.fi
 
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