The scholarship on Russian media is beset with the assumption that the Russian public is unable to ‘vote with their remote’ in a homogenously pro-regime media environment and instead passively accepts messaging from the official mass media. This assumption is assessed here in a case study using quantitative content methods to examine the discrepancies between official mass media agenda-setting and public opinion during the period of salience of the news event of the 2018 pension reforms. The pension reform, as an obtrusive domestic political issue in contrast to the unobtrusive international news events which dominate Russian news coverage, stood out asone of the major events of the year in the view of the Russian public. This article finds that official mass media undertook agenda-setting measures to de-emphasize negative aspects of the pension reform news events, emphasize positive aspects, and distract public attention towards more sensationalist foreign policy news items. However, it also finds that public opinion priorities on news issues were incongruent with media agenda-setting, indicating that official mass media messages are not accepted uncritically by the Russian public.
Keywords: Russia, media, agenda-setting, pensions, public opinion, legitimacy
How to Cite:
Leafstedt E. N., (2021) “Foreign policy fatigue? Russian mass media agenda setting strategies and public opinion on the 2018 pension reforms”, Slovo 34(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.14324/111.444.0954-6839.1237