Why People Don’t Believe Polls, or How the Results of Opinion Polls are Framed in Contemporary Russian Media





media framing, frame analysis, analysis of media messages, distrust, intermediaries, mediators, framing machines, actor-network theory, public opinion polls


The article is focused on the framing of the results of opinion polls in contemporary Russian media as not trustworthy, as well as on the distribution of roles in media messages between survey companies and the media as between two framing machines. The study is based on the frame analysis of media messages using the “Medialogia” database (N = 3035) for the period from 2009 to 2019. Traditionally, the results of public opinion polls are used to check the effectiveness of the frames presented in media, whereas this article considers them as media-framed information. The author identifies four options for presenting survey results dividing them into subgroups “trust — distrust” and “hidden — explicit”, where texts with distrust in the survey results make a quarter of the sample. The article analyzes and illustrates the framing technologies by which distrust is produced. Relying on B. Latour’s distinction between intermediaries and mediators the author shows that the media describe the work of the survey companies in such a way that all possible failures would be related to the work of the survey companies, while the work of the media platforms remains hidden. Presenting the results of the polls in a certain way and acting, in fact, as mediators, the media frame the polling companies as mediators, and themselves as intermediaries.

Acknowledgements. The study is supported by Oxford Russia Fellowship program in 2019-2020. The author is thankful to A. Titkov and V. Vakshtayn for comments and remarks.

Author Biography

Irina S. Dushakova, A.S. Griboedov Institute of International Law and Economics, Moscow

  • A.S. Griboedov Institute of International Law and Economics, Moscow, Russia
    • PhD Student of the Department of Journalism