What happened at the RUDN conference in Moscow?

Researchers, practitioners, and educators from journalism and media, linguistics and discourse studies, public relations, marketing, psychology, international relations, political studies, cultural studies and, sociology came together with a goal:

1. To identify and systematize the current changes in the field of media and communication and to discuss different aspects of teaching journalism and public relations in a modern media landscape;

2. To synthesize research perspectives and foster interdisciplinary scholarly dialogues for developing integrated approaches to complex problems of media and communications across the world.

3. To provide scholars, educators and practitioners from different cultural communities with opportunities to interact, network and benefit from each other’s research and expertise related to communication issues, intersecting with different cultural spheres and national environments;

As it is said in goal N:3, I started to sense exposure to a different way of doing things, quickly from Sheremetyevo Airport. All passengers of Airbus A380 from Helsinki to Moscow has been put into one-only standard Airport-bus, with no extra place to move, making it a surprising experience especially for some Finn colleagues who were expressing their ‘’excitement’’ to each other silently. As well as the car corns around the airport reminded me how quite is the #Helsinki.

International Conference on Journalism, PR and Media Trends. Media and Communication. APRIL 19, 2019, MOSCOW.

Sitting in elegant roundtable chairs, we have started with the keynotes after the opening speeches.

1st Keynote: «Fake News, Propaganda, Moral Panics and Manipulation in Media Spaces: Problems or Symptoms of Contemporary Communication? »

Gregory Simons, Docent, Uppsala University (Sweden) & Docent, Turiba University (Latvia). What I recall from his talk is:

– Tell the facts and let the audience to decide. Give them free will, what they will make up the situation.

– Tell what does it mean, rather than the definition. Propaganda is a millennium practice. But it has been traumatised by the wars (Soviets vs Nazi). From there, talks of being manipulated has started.

– Propaganda is what all sides do. Notions that ”the propaganda is all lie” – is not true.

– Such labels as fake news are in constant evolution. Game of legitimacy. Lows on fake news are poorly made because the definitions are poorly made.

– Moral panic is created, by journalists or political figures who have an influence on the mass media.

Paranoia is the best defence against Russians. It sold a lot of newspapers and a defence budget increase – afterward.

– Do we communicate to understand, to give knowledge, to past information or as a   means of accumulating influence? Now it seems more to accumulate influence. 

– Journalism unions in EU manipulating the EU to accept the media as a public good.

 – Are they symptoms or problems?

– What we see is more systemic, causing dysfunctions, it is much more symptoms.

– There is no more access and options given not to make more plural media society but to make more polarised media society through persuasion.

2nd Keynote: «Russian Media in a Global Space: Traditions and Present Day»

Photo: Valerii V. Muzykant & Ilkhom Khalimzoda

Valerii V. Muzykant, Professor, Department of Mass Communications, RUDN University (Russia). What I recall from his talk is:

–  Currently, there are 3461 media companies registered in Russia.

– 12 Russian companies owned 100 media.

– From 2016 onwards, foreigners cannot have more share than 20 % in the company registered in Russia.

Brand journalism has started in Russia mostly in 2015.

– He showed a video about lack of knowledge, how people know about the WW2 in the US, where random people were saying that Britain won the WW2 and Russians came to Germany to kill the Jews.

– Added how two war veterans from the UK came to Russia and expressed how hard it was to come to Russia because the UK did not want them to leave.

– He proposes 3 existing problems in international relations: Stereotype, perception, and technical issues.

– We are returned to primitive society, back to what Marshall McLuhan said.

Q & A

Q: In your talk, you mentioned fake news as viruses, how you relate virus and fake news?

A: It includes everyone now to produce info or at least to share the info, this is how it looks  like a virus everybody sharing the given content.

    Q: Why RT (Russia today) is important internationally?

A: Because it is becoming an opinion changing. When you look at others like BBC, CNN, you don’t see all the picture. Using RT, people can have a broader picture. For example, the 60 diplomats who were sent back, pointing out the fake news on the child dying because of the poison, and even ducks were dying because of that, which is funny and has to be explained.

Q: How do you comment on the Russian influence via Sputnik in the Latin World by broadcasting in Spanish?

A: If it is not contradicting with the local regulations, it is fine, since we are also friends.

3rd Keynote: «Conflict transformation and the discursive-material knot: A Cypriot case study»

Nico Carpentier, Docent, Charles University in Prague & Uppsala University and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium). What I recall from his talk is:

– The discursive analysis is Nico’s framework, post constructionist.

– Discursive material knot- a theoretical framework of social reality and media reality.

– Case of Cyprus in conflict and community media participation.

– Discourse is not a language for me but ideas or ideology. Referring to how truth is localised and given meaning differently.

– Discourses are not stable, they struggle, as there are struggles about truth, for example in the case of Soviet victory for American, referring to the video Valerii showed to us. At the same time, politics often intervene to fix these meanings.

– Of course, in the discourse, we accept the material world (bullet). But we should also let the material world to talk for their own.

–  New materialism is what influencing the discourse.

– We need a non-hierarchical balance of discourses and reality. A combination of discursive elements.

–   The case of community media discourse.

– There is a small difference between conflict transformation and conflict resolution. The tiny difference is that transformation is to turn the conflict from violent to nonviolent, from antagonism (radical difference) to agonist (conflictual togetherness).  As in the example of Cyprus.

Panel «Inclusion and exclusion»

Chair: Valerii V. Muzykant

1st Presenter Justin Buttin, RMIT University, Vietnam «Millennials and the instagrammable city»

– Saigon in Vietnam attracting tourists, which is an old and new phenomenon. Instagrammability is the place, design or cuisine that gets into Instagram and people may come here just to take Instagram photos.

– He argues that, Instagrammability versus authentic experience. Because, tourism rising people’s standard of purchase to higher and destroying many (authenticity, originality) things for the sake of tourism.

– It is a place where indigenous culture saved a lot despite the colonialism (See the effect of French colonial rule).

2nd Presenter Maria Denisova, Higher School of Economics: «From absolute evil to a medicine achievement: competing logics in surrogacy market»

– Surrogacy, where the women agree to grow other one’s fetus.

– In public, it is discussed as the commodification of the female body. It is legal in a few countries, including in Russia.

– Surrogacy is a phenomenon which is isolated from the experience of the general public.

– Looking at more than two hundred press articles about surrogacy, she found five different logic of surrogacy:

– First, the Church (suggest. Ban). Second, Politicians (suggest. Ban). Third, the medical logic (not to Ban), Fourth, the market logic (not to Ban). Fifth, law experts (require further legislative regulations). Further legislation because one of the risks is the mother who will deliver and can refuse at the end to give up the baby since also law considers her as a real mother.

– Some labels in the media about surrogacy:

Surrogacy as an analogy to child trade? ‘’Surrogate materinstvo-analog torgovli detmi’’?

For sale. ‘’Prodam ditya’’.

– To conclude: What we see behind the moral panic, what public opinion says? The point is that People who did surrogacy (surrogacy mothers) are left beyond the discourse at all.

There were other amazing panels and presentations that I was unable to attend. For more, please see the complete conference program. http://mc20190419.tilda.ws/#rec98880628

Ilkhom Khalimzoda

Photo: Media conference being mediated. Some of the conference participants.

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