Political news consumption on Russian Telegram: Navigating through the “chaos of narratives”

Sat9  Apr02:20pm(20 mins)
Umney Theatre


Anna Litvinenko


In Rusia, anonymous political news channels with several hundred thousand followers are comparable in their influence to the leading professional media. Do Russian users trust anonymous news channels on TG, and why? How do they navigate this novel news environment? The paper draws on a survey among 116 followers of Telegram news channels and on 20 self-confrontation interviews. In our survey, we ask users about the role of anonymous Telegram channels in their media diets, about trustworthiness of channel's content, as well as how and why they use it. Self-confrontation interviews aim to observe users' interactions with content and receive explanations, why content of TG channels deserves their attention. The results show that, in Russia, the concept of trust in media is linked to the normative democratic understanding of journalistic functions. At the same time, a big part of users rejects the necessity of trust in media and develop their individual strategies of navigation through what they call a ‘chaos of narratives’. Macro-level context factors seem to play an important role in construction of trust in alternative news environments. We observed that many respondents linked their attitude and interest to TG news channels to the reputation of the platform, that has changed over time from being oppositional and alternative to a platform, which is instrumentalized by different actors, including pro-state ones.

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