Sunday, December 11, 2011

Of course they do

USA Today reports that more and more Russians are using the power of the Internet to help them find viewpoints they cannot get from their domestic media.
As Internet use in Russia has risen, the approval ratings of [Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his United Russia Party have fallen. In recent elections, United Russia won barely half of the vote, well below the 64% the party took in 2007.
Journalists and political analysts say Putin has not been able to clamp down on aggressive reporting of his regime on the Internet as he has done with newspapers and television stations in his 11 years in power.
"The Internet is the only place where people can learn about what really goes on in the country: the corruption, the lawlessness and the abuse," said blogger Anna Arutiunova. "If it wasn't for the Internet and a handful of opposition print media, we wouldn't know most of the things we know now."
The Moscow Times adds that the recent anti-Putin protests within Russia were fueled by social media connections.

Now let's be cautious here. There is an ever-popular argument that the media are causing political protests and revolutions. That is nonsense. Yes, they can contribute to bringing otherwise disparate people together, but it would be a mistake to suggest the media are responsible for fomenting political unrest.

If protests continue to grow in Russia, be aware that you will start reading such stories. Ignore them.
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