Journalism in Times of Increaseing Propaganda. Western Media and Russia’s Information Warfare.
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In the early spring of 2014, the world witnessed the full power of Russia’s Information Warfare, when Russian troops invaded and annexed Crimea. The incident was preceded by weeks of intensive information campaigns to mislead the Ukrainian population and to subvert the government in Kyiv. But a closer look at these so-called information campaigns shows that they were not exclusively aimed at Ukraine, but also at its Western allies. Journalists were misled by an abundance of fake news and false evidence, and editors were often baffled by inexplicable Russian denials. Therefore, this study explicitly focusses on the relationship between mainstream media in Western countries and the Russian Information Warfare, asking the question: were these media aware of the Russian information campaigns? In doing so, this study focusses on three case studies to show how the media’s perception of Russian propaganda developed over the years. Simultaneously, Russia’s information campaigns also evolved towards a more ‘offensive’ nature, something that most Western media overlooked. This resulted in a growing awareness of the concept of Information Warfare, but a misinterpretation of its objectives and consequently an often counterproductive response.