Towards a Bourdieusian sociology of self-censorship: What we can learn from journalists adapting to rapid political change in Crimea after 2014

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Series Details Volume 35, Number 1, Pages 46-59
Publication Date January 2020
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Abstract :

This article explores self-censorship among journalists by drawing on Bourdieusian field theory and New Censorship Theory. The article analyses the experiences of local Crimean journalists in the period following Russia’s annexation of the peninsula, and during the rapid increase of Russian state control over local media. The analysis presented here draws on 70 biographical interviews conducted with local journalists who worked in Crimea for a period of at least 1 year between 2013 and 2017. In the first part of the article, I propose a Bourdieusian approach to self-censorship. In the second part of the article, I focus on illustrative examples of journalists who have risen to prominent positions in new post-2014 Crimean media, and detail three self-censorship practices: (1) governing ‘the other’ (a journalist engages in self-censorship only when it comes to ‘the ethnic other’: they refuse to practice self-censorship when working for Moscow-based Russian language media, but agree to self-censorship in local media targeting Crimean Tatars); (2) alerting the authorities (a journalist strikes deals with local politicians by not reporting on local infrastructural problems, instead directly asking the local government to fix them in return for favourable media coverage); and (3) self-censorship as patience (a journalist oversees positive reporting of local news and avoids negative topics as they wait patiently for Crimea’s growing pains to pass).

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