On June 18, the session “Cancel culture: unprecedented challenges for the media industry. Information Policy of Countries in the Post-Truth Era” took place, dedicated to pressure of Western countries, impact on media environment development in Russia, consequences of the aggressive communications policy and ways out of the current situation. Discussion was moderated by Yulia Golubeva, Deputy General Director of Gazprom-Media Holding.
At the beginning of the discussion, Yulia Golubeva announced results of a survey conducted the day before in the Gazprom-Media Holding social media. Approximately 4,000 people responded to the question “Has cancel culture affected your daily life?” Of these, 55% believe that it did not affect, and 20% do not know what the “cancel culture” is.
Speakers of the session were Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry; Lenar Fayzutdinov, First Deputy General Director of ANO Dialog; Sergey Kochetkov, First Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Rossiya Segodnya IMG; Andrey Bystritsky, Dean of the HSE Faculty of Communications, Media and Design; Xavier Moreau, the Founder of the Center for Political and Strategic analysis STRATPOL; Peter Lavelle, author and presenter of Russia Today programs; and writer Aleksandr Tsypkin.
Answering the question of what is unique in today’s cancel culture, Andrey Bystritsky noted that cancel culture will exist as long as there are people, but it is always implemented in different ways. However, the current situation is unique in that it takes place in a completely new communication space. Never before has interdependence, including in the information field, been so opposite to the level of regulation in the same area.
In his speech, Peter Lavelle noted that despite any pressure, the cultural heritage of Russia cannot be cancelled. “Attempts to cancel Russia are a kind of attempt to cancel Western civilization as a whole,” he summed up. In his opinion, the Western world today has come to understand what things should not be said (offensive, insulting), but today we are witnessing a new phenomenon that dictates what we should say.
The speakers also touched upon the media work theme. Sergey Kochetkov shared his views on the situation in the media environment in his speech. “Of course, it is not worth changing your information agenda and writing badly paying attention to what the Western media and the mainstream are doing. It is impossible to cancel Russia culturally, and it is also impossible to cancel the West. The task of a qualitative press, and just thinking people, is to pause before answering – then it will be meaningful and reasonable.”
Xavier Moreau shared his opinion that Russia needs to create platforms and tools for broadcasting its own position. Speaking about fakes and channels for informing citizens on the Internet, Lenar Fayzutdinov noted that Russia has a great chance to defend its agenda in social media. He also added that the language of post-truth is the language of emotions, and when working with fake news and false information, it is worth appealing to people’s emotions.
Continuing to understand the concept of “cancel culture” Maria Zakharova noted that the concept is somewhat of a cliche, based on a certain set of measures that have a political component with a clear goal setting. Without cancel culture, we would continue to live in illusions, but the West has shown its true nature. It is in such fateful periods as today that the state must create positive impulses and convey confidence.
Speaking about the Gazprom-Media Holding’s experience Yulia Golubeva noted that the holding inevitably faced consequences of the policy pursued. Thus, due to the closure of some markets, the company began to open new areas of cooperation with friendly countries: the day before, an agreement was signed on joint film production with Iran. “I hope this step will set a trend for the entire Russian media space and give impetus to the development of new international projects,” Yulia Golubeva summed up.