Modern Comrades or Old Enemies? : A comparative study of the representation of Russia in Italian and Swedish Press

University essay from Södertörns högskola/Institutionen för kultur och lärande

Abstract: Starting from a personal, contemporary outlook on society today, it might be obvious for a reader to immediately think of media as global, an entity hovering over national borders, transcending geography and geo-politics. As such viewers, we ignore thus that media - and the press in particular - have for a long time in the past been associated and tightly linked with mechanisms of nation-building, as well as with concepts such as nation, national identity and nationalism. Living in Sweden one might be acquainted with a fairly frequent representation of Russia in the media, just as well as with a fairly specific one; and the same would plausibly go for other countries. Through a narrative analysis of newspaper articles, this study focuses on the comparison of the representation of Russia in Swedish and Italian liberal online press in order to research whether the weaker degree of partisanship that characterises liberal journalism would still allow for two different storylines about Russia to be told through different narratives. With Daniel C. Hallin and Paolo Mancini’s study of media systems, as well as Kristina Riegert’s comparison of national representation in foreign news as a background, this study researches whether societal and political agendas and partisanship shape the image (and hence narration) of Russia in the two countries’ newspapers. Using Allan Bell’s values of newsworthiness and Vladimir Propp’s analysis of the quest’s narrative structure, it concludes that although the storylines about Russia told by the two countries were in fact different and plausibly coherent with the respective country’s circumstances (with a margin of exception), their narrative did not fully represent the model that Hallin and Mancini had assigned them.

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