I was in the Hague earlier this week, participating in an anti-corruption conference, and was able to follow the financial crisis by checking in whenever possible with CNN and BBC on TV and the Wall Street Journal and the International Herald Tribune – all that was easily available around me. It may not have been much, but enough. The coverage was certainly extensive, with much time and column space devoted to discussions on problems, solutions, finger-pointing, and other related issues.
One thing that was hard not to notice while in Europe is that the media there spent a considerable amount of time covering their own financial issues, just as in the US much focus is on domestic implications of the crisis as well.
A few days before that, however, I was watching a Russian television channel and it was hard to ignore the fact that in covering the financial crisis in a news segment, they spent about 10 minutes on problems facing developing countries. At the same time, they included only a brief note on the fact that the Russian government is taking care of things at home. The bias in coverage, as well as the different tone between Russian and foreign reporting, were quite interesting to observe.
The Moscow Times also noted this divergence, pointing out that on a day when trading was suspended on the Russian market due to the sharp declines:
Instead of reports about the markets’ losses, the three main television channels — state-controlled Channel One, Rossia and NTV — showed billionaire Mikhail Fridman telling President Dmitry Medvedev that the global financial meltdown offered new opportunities for Russian companies abroad.
“I am convinced that the Russian financial system is protected from such a fundamental shock to a greater degree than many other countries,” Fridman told Medvedev at the Gorky presidential residence outside Moscow.
At the same time, on the cover of WSJ there was an interesting image that showed the declines on the Russian market year-to-date as compared to their developing counterparts. While developed markets showed around 30-35% declines for the year, Russia was at the bottom of the chart with more than 60%.
The difference in coverage in Russian media should have been in the opposite direction, at least if one were to look at the markets’ slide. But I wonder if state media sources have the desire/willingness/and ability to do so (like their counterparts abroad)?