Ellen Mickiewicz: “New info re RT”

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

Subject: New info re RT
Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2017
From: Ellen Mickiewicz <ellen.mickiewicz@gmail.com>

Ellen Mickiewicz

James R. Shepley Professor of Public Policy Studies in the Sanford Institute for Public Policy and Professor of Political Science at Duke University.

Maxim Audinet’s piece about RT in Le Monde diplomatique [JRL#65] provides data that are partly right, partly not. Does the corrective never stick that 81% of RT’s YouTube videos are foreign-made, about foreign sensational events, purchased by RT, which puts its logo on top? Only 1% of RT’s total YouTube exposure is about Russian political issues.

Watching RT news, the article says, are 36 million people in Europe. What does that mean-is it a lot or a little? It is less than 0.1% of the potential audience there. Great Britain? In 2015, RT was, on average, viewed weekly by 100,000 fewer than three years before, and its share of total viewing is 0.05%, less than the audience for the public-service Welsh-language channel. In the United States RT did not make it into the top 94 cable news programs from December 2014 through March 2015. Worldwide: BBC has a weekly audience of 348 million; the Voice of America claims 268 million on all platforms, RT has 70 million.

RT’s online activity in social networks has been in the news as a particularly challenging tool. Comcast gives RT a high online figure for views, but it includes YouTube videos. RT’s activities in social media must be seen within a universe of total social activity online. Twitter, in a 223-day period from July 28, 2009 to March 8, 2010, generated 5 billion tweets. Celebrities accounted for by far the greatest number of tweets. And that was then. Add Twitter followers and all the email, instant messaging, social-networking sites and it’s clear that numbers of communications, bots or not, have to be gigantic to beat what’s out there.

Finally, there are people who already agree with RT’s views: who have the same gripes about their own EU governments, about the United States, about inequities and fear of the future. They are not going to be persuaded; they tune in, because they are already ideologically tuned in. Converting others (i.e. persuading them) will be hard, because of the echo chamber effect of looking only at what you already agree with or because there are so many opinions, rants, arguments, proposals, real or fake information, out there competing with RT, that it’s a very tough sell.