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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The article attempts to analyze mass media activity and to determine how it shapes the opinion on immigration issues. We review the media coverage of both immigrants themselves and of the events in relation to which the matter of immigration comes up most often. We have used Medialogia media monitoring software in order to discover whether the information distributed by media contains latent stereotypes that may bias the population against immigrants. Our research mainly concerns Uzbek immigrants living in St. Petersburg, Tajik immigrants living in Kaluga Region, Chechen immigrants living in Rostov Region, and Ukrainian immigrants living in Belgorod Region. The analysis of media mentions of Uzbek immigrants in St. Petersburg reveals that the coverage is mostly negative and perpetuates a stereotype of immigrants as a hostile force. The Tajik minority in Kaluga Region often finds itself beyond the media’s area of interest (and those rare cases when it does get mentioned are mostly in the context of illegal immigration and breaking the law, as is the case with Uzbeks in St. Petersburg). Likewise, the Rostov media barely pay any attention to the Chechen minority, which prompts a conclusion that they are unlikely to encourage a negative perception of this ethnic group. And if the media do cover the subject of Chechen immigrants, they inevitably mention the unique features of their culture, along with the similarities they share with other ethnic groups. The mentions of Ukrainians living in Belgorod, in turn, are mostly neutral statements of facts. At the same time, the news items may be accompanied by a range of contrasting opinions, from expressions of sympathy and support to complaints from the locals. In conclusion, we stipulate that over the past couple of years, immigrants have been receiving less media coverage, which, on the one hand, may be regarded as a positive trend (with the public’s attention focused on other news, the tension between various ethnic groups decreases), but on the other hand, may be a sign of neglect towards cultural diversity and the co-existence of various ethnic groups in Russia.
mass media, immigrants, mindset, ethnic tension, content analysis.