Interactivity and Emotional Persuasion in Russian State Television

At the BASEES Annual Conference (12-14 April, Robinson College, Cambridge) I will be speaking about interactivity and viewer engagement in current affairs programming and its role in emotional and rational persuasion. For further details, see the paper abstract below.

Interactivity and Emotional Persuasion in Russian State Television Mariëlle Wijermars, University of Helsinki

Despite the expanding influence of online media, Russian state television continues to be a leading source of information for Russians (Mukhametshina 2018). The importance of federal TV channels for shaping public opinion—in other words, their political usefulness— and their general ‘state-loyalty’ that results from, e.g., media ownership structures often leads to the assumption that their coverage of events is univocal. In reality, however, many formats on Russian state TV channels, including those dedicated to current affairs, explicitly incorporate opposing views—albeit in carefully scripted and choreographed ways. This is particularly the case for politically and socially oriented talk shows, some of which exceed news broadcasts in their popularity (Mediascope 2018). Scholarship thus far has focused on the analysis of narrative content and argumentation in Russian TV programming, with an emphasis on news (e.g. Hutchings and Tolz 2015; Tolz and Teper 2018). While the incorporation of (simulated) debate in general lacks comprehensive examination, one form remains particularly underexposed: audience interactivity. This paper examines various forms of interactivity and viewer engagement in current affairs programming with the aim of examining its role in emotional and rational persuasion. Approaching Russian television from the perspective of political communication, it analyses different forms of audience interaction (e.g., e-voting, Twitter live streams, call-ins) and their function in the televised debate of current political questions.