Mapping the Russian Media Field Through Audience Networks and Agenda Choice

Alla Loseva, Anna Moroz, Egor Shmidt, Daniel Alexandrov


In light of the “gardening” of the public sphere in autocracies, the question of how power is distributed in the media field calls for empirical investigation. We use computational methods of network analysis, topic modeling, and semantic analysis to test if the Russian media landscape is organized around the three “publics” as suggested by earlier theory. Using the data from the media outlets’ public pages on the social network VKontakte and the texts of the publications, we reveal which groups of outlets exist in the media field and compare the similarity in terms of coverage with how the media are seen by the audience. We validate the previously suggested structure of the Russian media landscape. The differentiation among the “publics” is consistently pronounced on the levels of coverage specifics and the audience subscription profiles.


media consumption, computational text analysis, network analysis, authoritarianism, audience participation

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