Split Signals: Television and Politics in the Soviet Union (Communication and Society)

Split Signals: Television and Politics in the Soviet Union (Communication and Society)

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0195063198

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Television has changed drastically in the Soviet Union over the last three decades. In 1960, only five percent of the population had access to TV, but now the viewing population has reached near total saturation. Today's main source of information in the USSR, television has become Mikhail Gorbachev's most powerful instrument for paving the way for major reform.
Containing a wealth of interviews with major Soviet and American media figures and fascinating descriptions of Soviet TV shows, Ellen Mickiewicz's wide-ranging, vividly written volume compares over one hundred hours of Soviet and American television, covering programs broadcast during both the Chernenko and Gorbachev governments. Mickiewicz describes the enormous significance and popularity of news programs and discusses how Soviet journalists work in the United States. Offering a fascinating depiction of the world seen on Soviet TV, she also explores the changes in programming that have occurred as a result of glasnost.

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especially if they live Television in the Soviet Media System 19 alone. But it is particularly the semiotic factor, the inability to understand the medium, that characterizes the non-audience in the Soviet Union. In the Russian province of Ryazan, about 20 percent of the people surveyed said they did not read newspapers because they had difficulty understanding them.55 Another Soviet media specialist concludes that the advantage or strength of radio as a medium in his country is derived from

the traditional doctrine had dictated, the "reality" of anti-social and retrograde events, such as illegal strikes and riots or crimes, is ephemeral; they will pass as communism is ushered in. A study of a national newspaper in the Soviet Union found that only about 15 percent was devoted to events that had occurred the day before.85 But this approach does not enable the government to establish credibility and reach its audience—an audience that finds these matters highly salient and often learns

all levels of education, and all occupations. Even the readers of Trud (Work), the tradeunion newspaper and the daily with the lowest proportion of college-educated readers (though still well over their percentage of the general population), when asked in what area they would ask for more information, cited international news first. Other areas of newspaper coverage (science, technology, culture, economics, family, youth, etc.) do exhibit the difference in readership by education, or other

economic support of apartheid, the interest of the media is clear. The media have had to accept the very restrictive rules governing coverage, but they have tried to maintain a level of attention. CBS anchor Dan Rather was quoted as saying that "a word is worth a hundred pictures" in this case—that even without pictures, or perhaps, better yet, because of the chance to do backgrounders that are not driven by dramatic new pictures, coverage, far from being crippled, will improve—an overly

within the context and constraints of the system in which they are embedded.2 These are subtle but important ways to understand objectivity as it functions within our media system; it involves fairness—the inclusion of opposing points of view; it rejects overt evaluation and judgment on the part of the anchor or correspondent. That is the style of our news presentation, but it does not eliminate the powerful role the media play in shaping political opinions through the selection and presentation

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