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[flagged] RT, Sputnik and Russia’s New Theory of War (nytimes.com)
50 points by prostoalex 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments

The other day, on a whim, I decided to point my browser at the www.bloomberg.com. I'd noticed myself becoming increasingly apprehensive about reading the news anywhere online due to what I percieve to be an excess of sensationalism, salaciousness, and out right suspect journalism. For example, how many articles about politics do we read where sources "close to the situation" wish to remain secret?

Anyway, going to the spartan, "facts only" seeming homepage of bloomberg was really a revelation to me. This is what news used to be like. Just a bunch of bland boring headlines. It made me realize, that angst I'd been feeling, reminded me of reading National Enquirer[0] headlines, in line, at the grocery store as a child. "Two headed dog gives birth", "Grandma from Michigan abducted by aliens, tells all!".

This is what the world has come to. We've lost the bastion of professional journalism. We need someone to vet this stuff for us. Strange new world indeed. I believe there is real danger here, to us and our civilization. See for example any quote from Goebbels[1]

Edit; Or Göring[2]:

> But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Enquirer

[1] https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/281832.Joseph_Goebbe...

[2] https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Hermann_G%C3%B6ring

> We've lost the bastion of professional journalism.

I don't read it this way at all.

There are still fantastic journos all over the place. Now, you can find fantastic journalists at BuzzFeed -- they just aren't the ones writing the listicles. You can find fantastic journalists at WaPo and NYT, but they are a strict subset of all article writers at their institution. You can find entire media outlets which are largely fantastic journalists, such as ProPublica.

We've only lost the idea that all news/media writers on the internet are "journalists".

> We need someone to vet this stuff for us.

The world is more complicated than it used to be.

We need more media literacy of readers. In the past, there were media gatekeepers who were very educated and (debatably) ethical. But with the democratization of media, there are no fences or gates anymore so people simply bypass the gatekeepers.

The institutions of our world are changing. Not only the specific names of institutions and the new generation of people manning them, but altering what it means to be an institution. The "populist" movements worldwide (including the current Trump+Bannon / Bernie / Brexit / anti-EU, and the Arab Spring + similar revolutions against the entrenched powered interests) are eroding the long-established institutions. Media consumers feel the sand shifting between their feet and are afraid of all media and institutions right now. Some of these populist movements are using this fear of change and fear of media to their advantage.

And then again, a fantastic journalist is not the only thing you need. You also need to have editors to keep journalists honest and ethical, even in a time when news outlets have to compete with "free" by thinning their editor ranks and outsourcing "journalism" to non-staff citizens.

You're last paragraph betrays any point you're trying to make. The world is not more complicated, it's wearisome to hear people use it as an excuse. I personally think there's a valid point that journalism has eroded to near nothing. There are a handful of sites on the internet that serve as defacto sources of authoritative news. News that can be trusted. Not fox, not cnn, not msn, certainly not yahoo . We live in an era of marketing, tabloid and celebrity Sensationalism masquerading as news. It's clearly, as the present article indicates, the situation is being actively exploited by state actors, to the detriment of us all.

I just realized that the well known news hoaxer going by the name of Sorcha Faal[1], who has been publishing since 2003, always claims that his sources for his stories are "rumors circulating around the Kremlin". How much more legit is this than all the "anonymous sources say" articles in the NYT and Washington Post, especially since the election? Sorcha Faal specialized in plausible sounding conspiracy theory, at least to those inclined to paranoia, usually based on recent events. WP and NYtimes seem to have started doing the same it seems.


journalists have processes to check sources. Don't buy into this 'mainstream is fake news' nonsense that's desensitizing the US to facts

Reuters.com is pretty good, too.

Russia being a 'western' minded country but still not integrated into the US sphere of influence plays the tech game better than China and EU. Facebook and Google dominate the US-led world but In Russia you see Yandex and Vkontakte/Odnoklassniki dominating the field. You see Yandex Taxi instead of Uber (now merged) and Kaspersky in security context. Putin stressed importance of AI to dominate the future of the world, IMHO, In the upcoming years we'll see more international battles towards AI, Space and robotics.

Very interesting times ahead.

>Facebook and Google dominate the US-led world but In Russia you see Yandex and Vkontakte/Odnoklassniki dominating the field. You see Yandex Taxi instead of Uber (now merged) and Kaspersky in security context.

Let's be real though. This is a result of Russia being completely isolated from most major internet services due to the overwhelming amount of malicious traffic originating from there, not any inherent superiority of Russian tech companies.

> Let's be real though. This is a result of Russia being completely isolated from most major internet services due to the overwhelming amount of malicious traffic originating from there, not any inherent superiority of Russian tech companies.

Not really, although I'd imagine some companies in defense space or those operating with consumer data might take stringent measures.

Russian annual Internet ad spending is just north of $2 billion (136 bln rubles, src https://www.vedomosti.ru/technology/articles/2017/03/21/6820..., US digital ad spending, for context, is $77.4 billion) and requires a business and banking entity setup to accept payments from other businesses. They recently started requiring anyone with a business entity to also host their data in Russia, and booted LinkedIn out for not renting data center space locally.

Credit cards payments are not widespread, so accepting consumer payments involves going through local transmitters (Qiwi, WebMoney, Yandex.Money) whose total volume is also low. English is not widely spoken, and at the language level Russian is unsuitable for drop-in translations due to flexions and conjugations being expressed by suffixes and occasional stem changes.

So overall it's a small ad market with complex payment setup requiring a significant investment just to get started. Most Western companies have Russia "on the list" when they talk about international growth, but it's an afterthought.

> Let's be real though. This is a result of Russia being completely isolated from most major internet services due to the overwhelming amount of malicious traffic originating from there, not any inherent superiority of Russian tech companies.

Can you please clarify something for me: Are you saying people in Russia can't use Facebook or Google because those companies block them ?

I believe a "different alphabet" causes a delay for majority of the population accessing services from an English-language based services and gives local startups time to excel before the US ones start the worldwide expansion. In latin and other countries within the US sphere of influence, the general population is more inclined since a long time to consume US products even if they aren't localized.

Actually, Yandex predates Google. But Google still managed to win in russian speaking markets. They couldn't surpass Yandex only in Russia I think. Vkontakte, on the other hand, was a Facebook clone that had time to excel before its worldwide expansion.

Yandex predates Google just like many other search engines predated Google but couldn't give relevant results. But I suspect Google's page rank algorithm was the deal and Yandex at some point improved their search results after Google was the hot kid.

Now that LinkedIn is banned in RF (is it still?) there's a chance for moikrug or other local startups to come up.

In Moscow I have seen and met (including Yandex) dozens of startup guys copycatting successful US ones. I was always curious why they were more successful than the Berlin ones or other west and east European ones. My conclusion has been the cyrillic alphabet. Of course a country of ~150millions with CIS expansions.

I would assume China, Korea, Japan, and some south Asian countries with a different alphabet and a large population offer the same opportunity to to startups.

Curious case is India - and I don't remember they having winner tech giants except outsourcing ones.

No, I think Google was catching up to Yandex, because pagerank alone was not enough to give relevant results in russian. Eventually they did and started competing with each other.

>Yandex predates Google.

Yandex - founded in 2000. Google - founded in 1998.

Predates for sure.

Yandex as a search engine was publicly opened in 1997 by a company called CompTek. In 2000 they split into a separate legal body.

Should we count early Page & Brin efforts then?

If they used same brand and domain name, then IMO we should. Did they?

For whatever reason, not many people speak English in Russia, especially outside of big cities. They have a completely different view of world affairs and the world situation from you, since the only information they can digest is from their own controlled/manipulated sources and most people have no way to detect any falsehoods - it's not like they could just read Reuters/NY Times.

I'm originally from a very small, insignificant country that also uses Cyrillic but people adapted to the early days of the internet just fine.

English was relatively widely taught and at least understood on some very basic level, and people adapted the Latin alphabet to type out words, there's even a "phonetic" standard for using the Latin alphabet to write Cyrillic.

Most of my friends from that era never even used the (poorly) localized early Windows/DOS, it was all the US version of everything.

So Facebook for example is still the thing, and very well localized, although there are (for whatever ungodly reason) "local" versions of sites like YouTube (although YouTube is also super popular).

Do the Greeks have the same issue?

No, the Greeks have the issue of having half the population of Moscow, which makes them even more of a niche market.

Russia? Western minded country? When? Where? During the time of Peter the Great, maybe. But now? Absolutely not. There was a brief period of flirtation with Western Liberal ideas in the mid-90's and everything went to shit for them, so Putin put the kibosh on that.

Russia has never been a "Western"-minded country, outside of some "elite" circles in St. Petersburg/Moscow. They see themselves as distinct culturally from mainland Europe - they're their own thing.

Throughout history, they've always been a separate power with their own interests - always. In many ways like the UK, except the UK is at least part of "Western Civilization". Russia is neither.

Most Russians I have met - being critical or bragging about themselves usually come up with the same arguments of how much they are "not western".

Actually during my years in Germany, UK and Russia and in most west and east European countries I have seen the same attitude in similar ways. In UK beyond London you'll see the majority referring to Europe as "Europe" and us. Similarly in Turkey, "Europe" is externalized.

Russian dynasty after Peter 1., Communist elites, and the last 500 years of Russian history revolves mostly rooting some ideas/technology from "Europe" and exercising this power in Europe and East and South. So I would consider Russia as "western". Especially after I have seen the bigger world of Indians, South asians, South americans, Africans - those cultures are diverse and unique alternatives to the "West" but I would say Russia is not.

Honestly, a lot of people consider Russia western simply because they are white. It's not intentional for the most part, it's subconscious. But the fact that we look alike just makes it so much easier to not consider them foreign.

> In the process, Russia has built the most effective propaganda operation of the 21st century so far, one that thrives in the feverish political climates that have descended on many Western publics.

Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but I wonder how much of that "feverish political climates that have descended on many Western publics" is due to Russian agitprop and other "active measures".

*Second most effective.

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