“One Cannot be Famous for Good Deeds”: Media Coverage of Non-Profit Sector Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Russia





non-profit sector, COVID-19, russian media, content-analysis, media system, automated text analysis methods


The article examines the representation of the non-profit sector in the Russian media during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study was conducted in a quantitative paradigm (N=1 535) utilizing the methods of content analysis (hand coding) and automated text analysis (network analysis and topic modeling). The authors claim that in the contemporary Russian media system, that is affected by the pressure from state structures and commercial interests, the media’s attention to the non-profit sector is fragmentary and situational. Hence the sector is not represented as a whole social institution, and the media focus on either individual events that affect sensitive topics close to the reader (in the case of COVID-19 urgent and relevant as well) or on well-known public figures affiliated with the sector. In turn, the intensity of coverage of the NGOs activities can be one of the features of developed media systems. The article shows that the media of regions with high indicators of the Media Development Index more often cover the activities of the non-profit sector than the media representing regions with less developed media systems.

Acknowledgments: The research project was conducted by the ZIRCON Research Group commissioned by the Agency for Social Information (ASI) with the support of the Vladimir Potanin Charitable Foundation and the Presidential Grants Fund in September-October 2020.

Author Biographies

Anastasia V. Saponova, HSE University

  • HSE University, Moscow, Russia
    • Master of Sociological Sciences, Lecturer, School of Media 
  • ZIRCON Research Group, Moscow, Russia
    • Specialist

Igor V. Zadorin, ZIRCON Research Group

  • ZIRCON Research Group, Moscow, Russia
    • Head
  • Institute of Sociology FCTAS RAS, Moscow, Russia
    • Senior Research Fellow, Center for Comprehensive Social Research





Media and Communications in the Times of COVID-19 Pandemic