Nothing Is True? The Credibility of News and Conflicting Narratives during “Information War” in Ukraine

Joanna Szostek

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In international politics, the strategic narratives of different governments compete for public attention and support. The Russian government’s narrative has prompted Western concern due to fears that it exerts a destabilising effect on societies in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. However, the behaviour and thought processes of news consumers targeted by contradictory strategic narratives are rarely subjected to analysis. This paper examines how Ukrainian news consumers decide where to get their news and what to believe in a media environment where ‘propaganda’ and ‘disinformation’ are regarded as major threats to national security. Data come from 30 audio-diaries and in-depth interviews conducted in 2016 among adult residents of Odesa Region. Through qualitative analysis of the diary and interview transcripts, the paper reveals how participants judged the credibility of news and narratives based on their priorities (what they considered important), not just ‘facts’ (what they believed had happened). The attribution of importance to different foreign policy issues was associated, in turn, with varying personal experiences, memories and individual cross-border relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-135
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Press/Politics
Issue number1
Early online date29 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

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