When troubles never come singly: coverage of three tragedies in the Russian media





mass media, agenda-setting, public opinion, construction of problems, press, Internet, terrorism, alcohol


Three tragedies occurred on the same day - December 19, 2016: mass poisoning with “surrogate alcohol” in Irkutsk, the assassination of the Russian ambassador in Turkey and the Berlin Christmas market attack. Studies show that public opinion regarding these events is shaped by the way these stories are covered in various types of media such as television news, print media and online publications. The study examines how these tragedies were presented in the Russian media. The murder of the ambassador in Turkey was the most popular topic in the media, and all types of media delivered similar views. The poisoning tragedy was covered very differently in different types of media, from criticism over authorities to attempts to “deproblematize” the situation. The Berlin terrorist attack attracted least attention of the media and, unlike the assassination of the ambassador in Turkey, had lots of interpretations. The news analysis across three types of media shows that the number of publications, the amount of airtime devoted to these topics and the image formed by the media is closely connected to social and political factors (such as the link between the event and other agendas, the media's characteristics and role in the construction of an event's image, and authorities’ official standpoint) rather than objective circumstances of the tragedy (casualties, remoteness et cet.).