Russia has been making the headlines of international media for a while now. But none of that had to do with a strong economy or a powerful army because Russia simply doesn't have either. Instead, it has learned to interfere through other means in the politics, media, elections and national security of other countries. [...] The new methods of Russian influence are well-known, but it seems that Western countries have turned out to be unprepared for them.
What appears to be a nightly newscast is about to begin, only with a very Ukrainian twist: Everything is a lie, from start to finish. “Welcome to ‘StopFake,’ the place where we set the record straight on fakes about Ukraine,” the anchor, Margo Gontar, intones. In other parts of the world, viewers might suspect the evening news is just a bunch of lies, but watching the weekly broadcast of “StopFake News,” they can be certain of it.
Now a new initiative called Republic TV, bankrolled by the nationalistic Indian politician and media baron Rajeev Chandrasekhar, stands the best chance to break the inertia and enter the big league in the world news business. [...] Should Republic TV deliver the goods, soft-power benefits will flow to India as an open and argumentative society bringing its distinct non-Western narrative to illuminate the world’s problems and offer solutions.
The good news, however, is that propaganda is back. I don’t mean the unfragrant mob of internet miscreants — hacking is to propaganda what stalking is to romance. I mean the impulse to choose a side and press its case with wily elegance. Those of us who grew up in the Cold War have rather missed it — the persistent, well-designed, all-encompassing salesmanship of Life’s Correct Path, backed up with textbooks, posters and unspeakable stockpiles of nuclear weapons.
Sitting in my bedroom, 200 miles from Aleppo, social media makes it easier than ever to spectate the atrocities of the civil war. But has social media changed the reality of organising a protest on the ground? [...] There are a small number of major competitors for protest organisation platforms. Facebook, of course, has cornered the market. Twitter also plays a role.
If you were to ask the VOA’s editors why they run stories that violate their Charter, they would probably tell you that they don’t have the manpower to cover everything. But these lapses are, in the end, inexcusable. [...] If the VOA’s editors have to choose between running a one-sided story that violates their Charter, or no story at all, then they should run no story at all.