Media Coverage of Gender Violence
To provide a quantifiable measure of the impact of the new politics of gender violence on Russian society, I conducted a content analysis of the print media. The Soviet legacy of using the media as mechanisms of propaganda meant not only that Soviet citizens had the literacy to read newspapers and magazines, but that they turned to these media for information. During the height of Gorbachev’s glasnost, the communist-era newspapers that had been charged with reporting only the official “truths” were liberated. They began publishing exposes of social problems and discussions of the taboos of Soviet history, greatly expanding their readership as most Russian citizens became engrossed in these newly possible conversations. The inflation of the early 1990s, however, brought an end to the romantic period of print journalism as the price of newspapers, without advertising, became prohibitive. The Russian public, in general, turned to the television for their news. In an era of decreasing circulation of Russian newspapers, newspaper coverage reflects consciousness among intellectual elites and opinion leaders more than widespread public consciousness of the problem.
Content analysis within political science is typically a quantitative analysis that “relies upon the scientific method, including an observance of the standards of objectivity/inter-subjectivity, a priori research design, reliability, validity generalizability (with probability sampling from a defined population of messages), replicability, and hypothesis testing” (Neuendorf 2004, 33). It has become a methodologically sophisticated process, but in this project, I use a simple content analysis, employing the “bread and butter” of content analysis, the counting of manifest characteristics, to bolster the other methods of the book, including ethnography and discourse analysis. In other words, while accepting the primary assumption of discourse analysis—that reality is produced—I sought quantifiable measures for shifts in social reality. This requires a relaxation of the positiv-
ist assumptions of content analysis as well as a relaxation in the claims of discourse analysis that words have no stable meaning (Hardy, Harley, and Phillips 2004). Investigating gender politics, which shift reality, but which have increasingly been subject to positivist analysis, requires methodological eclecticism.
The content analysis was conducted using databases available from East View Information Services (www. eastview. com). In specific, I used three databases: (1) Central Newspapers, which includes over fifty daily and weekly newspaper of national importance, (2) Regional Newspapers, which covers papers and editions from across Russia, and (3) Russian/NIS Newswires, which covers the wire service bulletins and includes only one non-Russian newswire (for more details about these databases, see http://online. eastview. com/login_russia/index. jsp). The search, with assistance from Gulnara Zaynullina, was first conducted in June— July of 2004 and then updated in 2006. The raw quantitative data is available upon request from the author.
We took terminology found in use by activists and searched for the number of articles in which the various terms appeared. As Russian declines its nouns, we used wildcards to represent the endings. Since the databases include prominent English-language newspapers, such as the Moscow Times, we included English language terminology. This broader search proved somewhat problematic as articles could be republished in different versions of the national newspaper or reprinted in regional newspapers. For the most part, I decided that these represented additional usage, in the sense that the regional newspapers chose to reprint the article. Other times, when the repeat was not meaningful—as when a television listing for the musical Chicago including “spousal violence” (search term: cyпpyжecк* /1 ташли*) ran for two weeks—the repeated publications were eliminated. This analysis gives a sense of the relative frequency of the uses of different terms and a general sense of the salience of the issues.
As these databases added new sources over time, they could not be used to estimate the change over time in the references to gender violence. I turned to the newspaper Izvestiia [News] for the data represented in tables 4.2, 4.3, 5.2, and 6.2. This long-running, high-circulation, national daily newspaper had been one of the few included in the databases from the early 1990s. And, although Izvestiia had been the mouthpiece of the Soviet government, after being privatized in 1992, the paper emerged as a fairly reliable source of information. Into the new century, the paper stayed somewhat critical of the Putin administration even as most other media had self-censored themselves as a result of his campaign to wield control over the mass media. For example, in 2004, during the hostage crisis in Beslan, which was bungled tragically by the Russian authorities, Izvestiia published a controversial photo that contradicted the administration’s line. In 2005, state – controlled gas giant Gazprom bought a controlling interest in Izvestiia, suggesting that the paper will cease to be credible as an independent source of news. To estimate the amount of media attention to gender violence over time, I used Izvestiia from 1994 up through 2005, conducting the same kind of terminological searches described above