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Journalistic Resistance to Russian Authoritarian Disinformation: The Case of Media Dissidents in the Russia- Ukraine Wars of 2014 & 2022

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Watermark which uses Safety of journalists logo motif
Mahedi Hasan , Mahedi Hasan
This study aims to investigate the role of gender in the Russian journalistic field, focusing on the resistance of female journalists against authoritarian disinformation during the Russia-Ukraine conflicts of 2014 and 2022. By analyzing the cases of Liz Wahl's on-air resignation and Marina Ovsyannikova's live protest, the study aimed to understand their contributions, ethical dilemmas, acts of resistance, and how Al Jazeera, the BBC, and CNN portrayed these.


This thesis explores the use of propaganda and disinformation in the Russia-Ukraine wars of 2014 and 2022, using as a case study of two Russian government media journalists, Liz Wahl and Marina Ovsyannikova, who publicly resisted Kremlin propaganda. The study also explores the role of gender in the Russian journalistic field and examines female resistance to war propaganda in the context of journalistic paradigm repair. Finally, the thesis examines how Al Jazeera (Qatar), the BBC, and CNN portrayed the resistance. The study was carried out within the framework of the following theoretical perspectives: gender and international journalism, journalistic fields, journalistic ethics, and journalistic paradigm repair. The study uses historical and textual analyses to explore the resistance activities of female journalists and international media portrayals of that resistance.

Main Findings

Key findings of the study include: • Prominent Role of Female Journalists: Female journalists like Liz Wahl and Marina Ovsyannikova played a significant role in resisting government propaganda and upholding journalistic ethics. The study found that many women journalists were active against authoritarian propaganda, underscoring their commitment to truth-seeking and accountability. • Journalistic Ethics and Paradigm Repair: The study applies Bourdieu's Journalistic Field theory and Linda Steiner's concept of gender and journalism and journalistic paradigm repair to highlight how these journalists resisted authoritarian propaganda and defended journalistic ethics. Despite potential harassment and professional uncertainty, they remained dedicated to ethical journalism. The research supports Steiner's perspectives on gender and international journalism, highlighting female journalists' unique challenges in conflict zones and their contributions to alternative perspectives. • Media Coverage and Solidarity: Major international media outlets, including Al Jazeera, the BBC, and CNN, extensively covered and supported these acts of resistance. Their portrayals emphasized the bravery of Wahl and Ovsyannikova, highlighting global solidarity with journalists who stand against authoritarian practices. The study found that major media were prominent in supporting their colleagues.

Policy recommendations/implications

From a practical perspective, this research emphasizes the importance of protecting and supporting journalists engaged in critical reporting and resistance against authoritarian control. Media organizations can foster an environment that encourages independent and courageous journalism by recognizing and acknowledging the bravery and dedication of journalists, especially women journalists, in Russia. Policymakers can benefit from these findings by understanding the challenges faced by journalists in repressive environments and implementing measures to safeguard press freedom and the rights of journalists.
This study sheds light on the significant role played by women journalists in Russia, their resistance against authoritarian disinformation, and their dedication to journalistic ethics. It aligns with relevant theories, providing insights into the motivations and behaviors of journalists in the Russian journalistic field. The study underscores the importance of media freedom and the need to support and protect journalists facing harassment and repression. By amplifying the voices of marginalized journalists, the industry can move towards inclusivity and resilience while upholding the principles of truth-seeking and accountability.
Methods used in research:
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