rss_2.0Nordic Journal of Media Studies FeedSciendo RSS Feed for Nordic Journal of Media Studies Journal of Media Studies Feed transformation of propaganda: The continuities and discontinuities of information operations, from Soviet to Russian active measures<abstract> <title style='display:none'>ABSTRACT</title> <p>This article focuses on the transformation of Soviet Cold War propaganda into the contemporary Russian information operations, bringing together two distinct periods characterised with the rise of new and sophisticated techniques. By comparing propaganda instructions in KGB manuals and the practices of the propagandists behind the 2014–2020 Secondary Infektion campaign, we find out what of the “analogue” Cold War propaganda remains in the present-day computational propaganda and how exactly Soviet propaganda techniques evolved into the new mediascape. This highlights both strong continuities of methods and techniques and certain discontinuities. Our analysis also contributes to the understanding of the very concept of propaganda, singling out such aspects as covertness, negativity, and inauthenticity as especially ingrained features of the Russian style of propaganda that are also regrettably often overlooked in generic definitions.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue turtles and kidnapping children: Fantasmatic logics of Scandinavia in Russian and German anti-gender discourse<abstract> <title style='display:none'>ABSTRACT</title> <p>This study examines the social, political, and fantasmatic logics involved in the production of contemporary discourses about Scandinavia as a symbolic site and imagined place of sexual and moral decay and as a gender dysphoric dystopia by actors in the global anti-gender movement. Empirically, we draw on a rich digital archive of multi-modal media texts from an ongoing research project on anti-gender movements in Russia and Germany – two countries which provide particularly poignant examples of sites in which this mode of anti-gender propaganda is currently on the rise. In the analysis, we explore the discursive workings of a particularly prominent node in the material – that of the vulnerable child – and show how this figure is construed and instrumentalised to add urgency and fuel outrage among domestic audiences in Russia and Germany.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue through people: The rhetorical categories of documentary subjects in Michael Moore’s films<abstract> <title style='display:none'>ABSTRACT</title> <p>Michael Moore’s documentaries have been central to the development of the contemporary political documentary and have served as an instrument of political activism or, as some argue, even propaganda. Delving into the underlying mechanisms, in this article, I examine the ways in which documentary subjects are persuasively deployed in Moore’s documentaries. An analysis combining close reading, qualitative content analysis, and rhetorical analysis points to key rhetorical categories of documentary subjects. These subjects’ embodiment of six main rhetorical categories displays a correlation with Aristotle’s cornerstones of rhetoric: ethos, logos, and pathos. Further, the categories demonstrate how moral emotions are utilised in constructing the ethos of documentary subjects. In addition, the article addresses the significance of identification in Moore’s persuasive rhetoric. This research participates in deconstructing the mechanics of persuasive mediated communication and contributes to outlining a theory of audiovisual rhetoric.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue criticism as a propaganda strategy in political communication<abstract> <title style='display:none'>ABSTRACT</title> <p>Over the last decade, strategic attacks on news media institutions and journalists have become an increasingly common feature of populist political communication. The purpose of this article is to identify various strategies that politicians use to criticise the news media and illuminate how the use and circulation of these strategies vary between party types. The article builds on a content analysis of the Twitter feeds of all members of parliament with an active account during the 2018 Swedish election campaign. Results show that political media criticism in Sweden is strongly associated with political personalisation, and it is almost exclusively a right-wing phenomenon, though not restricted specifically to populist parties. Public service media rather than newspapers or commercial broadcasters constitute the prime target for political media criticism in Sweden, illustrating the need to take media systemic aspects in to account when analysing media criticism as a propaganda strategy in political communication.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue and the news media: A Nordic perspective on propaganda<abstract> <title style='display:none'>ABSTRACT</title> <p>Combatting disinformation and propaganda has become an increasingly common task in Nordic newsrooms. The independent fact-checking organisations are currently joining forces with journalists in keeping the public informed. To better understand what these organisations do and how they do it, this study investigates the fact-checkers’ challenges and interrelations with traditional journalistic institutions, media literacy organisations, and associated national policymaker institutions in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. The study is based on 18 in-depth interviews, and the findings show that fact-checking journalism is considered an important counterpart to traditional news media. However, there are many challenges in countering disinformation in the Nordics – both socioeconomical and policy related – that should be considered when discussing how to maintain and improve on the resilience against disinformation and propaganda in the Nordic media welfare states. The study aims to bring some of these challenges to the fore.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue language of late fossil capital<abstract> <title style='display:none'>ABSTRACT</title> <p>This essay studies the propaganda language of contemporary – or late – fossil capital. Whereas the traditional understanding of propaganda focuses on the dissemination of information (or disinformation) in order to promote a political cause or ideology, I argue that the main form and vehicle of propaganda for late fossil capital is the massive use of terms and tropes, together with particular rhetorical devices, for example, the interpellation of the individual consumer as responsible for mitigating climate change. The essay studies the language of fossil capital based primarily on marketing material by fossil fuel companies, in the US and other Western countries, such as advertising and advertorials, current and archived websites, social media, corporate sustainability reports, as well as material produced by industry organisation such as the American Petroleum Institute and the Heartland Institute. A large part of the material is taken from two North American legal complaints, <italic>Connecticut v. Exxon Mobil Corporation</italic> (2020) and <italic>City of New York v. Exxon Mobil Corp. et al.</italic> (2021).</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue would a Swedish mine be without a party? On metals, minerals, and love during the “green” transition: Climate propaganda in The Swedish Mine advertising campaign<abstract> <title style='display:none'>ABSTRACT</title> <p>This article contributes to the growing field of critical studies about the visual politics of the green transition by highlighting the role of communication and the creative industries in promoting “green” ideologies. “The Swedish Mine” advocacy advertising campaign, launched in 2021, is presented as a case study to illustrate how lifestyle advertising genres are used to leverage the emotional engagement of progressive, mining-sceptical urban audiences to increase the social acceptance of intensified mining despite increasing climate awareness. Using visual culture studies, feminist, and critical race theory approaches to analyse the campaign materials, I explore how the campaign aestheticises “green” industrial progress by tokenising multiculturalism, fetishising consumption, and romancing national identity. As a counterpoint, I examine how social media reactions and activist responses illustrate tensions between mining acceptance and mining resistance in Swedish society. I conclude by positioning the campaign rhetoric in various forms of climate propaganda and highlighting the limits of the engineering of public consent for a “green” transition when such attempts use emotions as sites of “cognitive extraction” to cover technological and capitalist imperatives that ultimately promote Sweden as a leading mining nation.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue information’s Other: Theorising beyond information and communications technologies for disinformation<abstract> <title style='display:none'>ABSTRACT</title> <p>If Plato’s allegory of information trouble occurred within a torchlit cave, the scale and scope of technical developments in information and communication technologies have not superseded his perennial concerns. Drawing from the sociology of knowledge and objectivity in news, in this article, I examine a set of cases of contested information within American communication. Beyond reductionist approaches to objectivity and falsehood in information, these cases bring to light political and cultural contestation over the presentation, omission, and selection of information, as well as value in speculative information. Taken together, these highlight the need for a framework to cover a range of informational issues. The proposed meta-classification of information’s Other opens an analytical space not only to account for today’s alleged information disorder, but also to address long-standing concerns with information order.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue and the Web 3.0: Truth and ideology in the digital age<abstract> <title style='display:none'>ABSTRACT</title> <p>The aim of this contribution is to elaborate on propaganda to better define the term in its constituent parts and to build a conceptual model that can also serve as a programme of study. To this end, I develop a definition of propaganda as the enforcement of ideological goals to manage public opinion. Next, I discuss the complex relationship between truth and propaganda positioned alongside mis- and disinformation and argue true information can be, and often is, used as propaganda. I argue the contextual environment can play an equal role to the message itself in the process of distribution, dissemination, and reproduction of propaganda, particularly in light of the technological developments of Web 3.0. I discuss the crucial role of repetition and stereotypes, alongside “hot” and “banal” propaganda in either long- or short-term use. Lastly, I discuss the relationship between propaganda and its audiences from a cyclical perspective, considering them in their reception and participating role in a propaganda campaign and the consequences of intended and unintended audiences.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue studies, Le Bon’s psychology of crowds, and qualitative-normative research on propaganda, 1880–2020<abstract> <title style='display:none'>ABSTRACT</title> <p>The unexpected change in the way media researchers frame the Internet – from a utopia of free speech in the 1990s to a nightmare of spreading propaganda and disinformation in the 2010s – is reminiscent of the founding period of the field in 1880–1920. It was then that, because of the birth of the modern cultural-industrial media system that was put into large-scale propaganda use by governments and other social actors, the foundations of propaganda studies were laid. This is why the work of Gustave Le Bon (1841–1931) acquired new actuality. In <italic>Psychology of Crowds,</italic> first published in 1895, Le Bon suggested an explanation for why some people resort to propaganda and why others believe in it. This paper tracks the development of this research tradition from Le Bon to Walter Lippmann, Theodor W. Adorno, and – following the interlude of cultural studies in the 1980s and 1990s – the present day. In conclusion, a methodology for explaining the evolution of media studies is advanced, using qualitative-normative propaganda analysis as an illustration.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue return of propaganda: Historical legacies and contemporary conceptualisations<abstract> <title style='display:none'>ABSTRACT</title> <p>In this introductory article, we discuss the rise of the “classical” theories of propaganda, starting with an historical exposé of the concept, which traces its roots and trajectory through the field of academic analysis. Propaganda is then discussed in relation to other adjacent concepts such as soft power, public diplomacy, nation branding, fake news, and so on. In a third section, the concept of propaganda is discussed in relation to the present datafied world, marked by various forms of crises – of democracy and of the environment, for example. In the last section, the articles included in this themed issue are presented and related to the preceding historical and conceptual discussion.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue rituals of belonging: (Re)theorising hybrid, violent media events<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The updating of media event theory for the digital age has been underway for some time, and several researchers have pointed out that the complexity of the hybrid media environment poses a challenge when it comes to understanding how media events in the present digital context ritually create belonging. In this article, we examine violent media events as hybrid phenomena and discuss their ritual workings in the present digital media environment. We apply what we call the 5 A’s – actors, affordances, attention, affect, and acceleration – as key analytical tools to empirically study such events. We also develop the concept of hybridity in relation to media events by proposing three auxiliary A’s: assemblage, amplification, and accumulation. Building on our earlier work, we call for more analytical consideration of the ambivalences in the ritual constructions of belonging (and non-belonging) in such violent events. We use the Christchurch massacre of 2019 as a case study to illustrate these conceptual developments.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue events in the age of global, digital media: Centring, scale, and participatory liveness ceremonial media events – time and temporalities of liveness<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article discusses media events and liveness as ways live is performed in and by the media. Understanding the workings of contemporary media events entails understanding how they are embedded in complex patterns of temporalities; hence, the article deploys the notion of temporality of liveness to contemplate different ways in which time is entangled and made salient as particular forms of temporality in the unfolding of media events. Analysing the Danish queen's 2020 New Year's speech, the Danish prime minister's Covid-19 speech of 11 March 2020, and the broadcasting of the inauguration of Joe Biden on 20 January 2021, the article shows that liveness can be approached analytically. The analysis unfolds the diversity and changeability of temporalities of liveness, and argues that contemporary ceremonial events may be local or global, small or large, but still reach a substantial portion of a population. Thus, a point in the article is to call attention to the enduring importance of broadcast media and television for the creation of media events that gather and “enthrall” large audiences, to quote Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz, even in a time of global digital network communication.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue life and times of media events: A tribute to Elihu Katz<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>I have just learnt that Elihu Katz – a dearly loved friend and colleague – has died at the age of 95. This abstract is a valediction forbidding mourning. <italic>Media Events</italic>, written with Daniel Dayan, was the culminating work of a career spanning six decades – a career launched by <italic>Personal Influence</italic>, written with his doctoral supervisor, Professor Paul Lazarsfeld, of Columbia University, New York, and published in 1955. In my contribution to this issue, I try to do two things: firstly, to indicate how <italic>Media Events</italic> opened up a novel way of thinking about television and, at the same time, to think of it as a summa, the distillation of a lifetime’s work in the academic field of communication and media studies. I wanted especially to point towards its <italic>stimmung</italic> – that untranslatable ordinary German word for mood, or disposition: an attitude to life, the world, and television. I start with Katz’s earliest academic work – his master’s thesis completed at Columbia in the 1940s, felicitously but not accidentally called <italic>The Happiness Game.</italic> The <italic>stimmung</italic> of this work is the same as that of <italic>Media Events. That</italic> vision, as Daniel Dayan has claimed, was <italic>not</italic> a mirage. What he and Katz saw in <italic>La Télévision Céremoniélle</italic> (the book’s French title when he translated it) was every bit as true as the dominant academic view of the politics of television whose hegemonic sociological take on “the real world” they both attempted to counter.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Media events as politics in the deterritorialised nationalism debate<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Online networks have blurred the lines between national and global news, and have given users a more active role in how information flows. This opens up the opportunity for individuals to engage with foreign events in new ways, curating information and offering their own interpretations. In this article, we investigate how national elections are taken up in the global Twittersphere, using a set of 198,635 English-language tweets about the 2018 Swedish parliamentary election. Based on a network analysis and a content analysis of themes in the tweets, we demonstrate that national media events can become “deterritorialised” by globally networked publics. A second key finding is that the Swedish election is leveraged to discuss anti-globalist themes such as immigration and nationalism in, paradoxically, a global and deterritorialised context.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue events in an age of the Web and television: Dayan and Katz revisited<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>When Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz published their seminal book <italic>Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History</italic> in 1992, television occupied centre stage, whereas computer networks were only beginning to be used. Since the late 1990s, television and digital media have co-existed and co-evolved in still more entangled ways. In this article, I ask how the supplementing of television by a new media form, the Web, has affected the ways media events as understood by Dayan and Katz can unfold and be conceptualised. Based on a medium theory perspective where focus is more on “media” and less on “event”, I introduce the article by tracing how Dayan and Katz understand television as a medium. Then follows a brief account of the vast literature about <italic>Media Events</italic>, with a particular focus on how digital media are conceptualised. With these two sections as a stepping stone, the Web's digital features are outlined, followed by a historical analysis of the interplay of the development of the Web and a concrete media event: the Olympics from 1996 to 2016. Finally, this web historical outline is used to re-evaluate Dayan and Katz's conceptualisation of media events. The analysis is guided by three themes – liveness, control, and participation – pivotal for Dayan and Katz's understanding of media events as well as the history of the Web.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue and transformation in media events theory: The case of the Euromaidan Revolution in Ukraine<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Media events, Dayan and Katz argue, compose a narrative genre that follows specific structural principles and narrative tropes and that works toward societal integration. However, a specific subset of media events is labelled transformative, and these work towards societal change. In this article, we point to an unresolved tension between transformative events and what has subsequently been introduced as disruptive events. Our discussion builds on research on the developments in post-Soviet Ukraine, and we analyse, firstly, the transformative and disruptive relations related to the so-called Euromaidan Revolution, and secondly, how these events can be placed in a wider narrative of three Ukrainian revolutions. Our analysis concludes that narrative analysis can help explain the ways in which these events are understood by broader international audiences.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue practices in the climate crisis: Intervening in consensual frameworks of the sensible through images<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Previous research has shown that Western visual journalism has represented climate change through certain repetitive and stereotypical imagery mainly consisting of catastrophic images of climate change impacts, images depicting technological causes and solutions, and images of politicians and activists. This imagery has proven to be distant, abstract, and ineffective in motivating personal engagement with climate change. In this article, we claim that visual journalism's representations of climate change are rooted in the consensual frameworks of human-centredness and consumption-centredness. Leaning on Jacques Ranciére's notion of “the politics of aesthetics”, we aim to challenge these frameworks. We suggest, with examples from visual arts, four aesthetic practices which could intervene in these frameworks: 1) revealing connectedness, 2) recognising agency, 3) compromising the attractions of consumerism, and 4) illuminating alternatives. We propose that visual representations, renewed through these aesthetic practices, could have an effect on how people connect to climate issues and imagine possibilities for agency in the climate crisis. Implementing these aesthetic practices would entail shifts in the sphere of visual journalism.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue climate: The rapid rise of climate denial in the Swedish far-right media ecosystem<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The final years of the 2010s marked an upturn in coverage on climate change. In Sweden, legacy media wrote more on the issue than ever before, especially in connection to the drought and wildfires in the summer of 2018 and the Fridays for Future movement started by Greta Thunberg. Reporting on climate change also reached unprecedented levels in the growingly influential far-right media ecosystem; from being a topic discussed hardly at all, it became a prominent issue. In this study, we use a toolkit from critical discourse analysis (CDA) to research how three Swedish far-right digital media sites reported on climate during the years 2018–2019. We show how the use of conspiracy theories, anti-establishment rhetoric, and nationalistic arguments created an antagonistic reaction to increased demands for action on climate change. By putting climate in ironic quotation marks, a discourse was created where it was taken for granted that climate change was a hoax.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue