Staunton, December 16 – Eighty-five percent of Russians continue to get their news from television stations which are overwhelmingly controlled by the Kremlin, but the share of those who trust this source to be accurate and reliable has fallen from 79 percent in 2009 to only 41 percent now, according to the results of a new Levada Center poll.
That increasing skepticism in turn has opened the way for a collapse in the assessment of Russians about the real situation in the country, a triumph of the refrigerator over the television that at some point will have political consequences, especially as Russia heads into a new election year in 2016.
The Levada Center poll found that 24 percent of Russians preferred to get their news from friends, 21 percent preferred Internet publications, and 13 percent social networks, newspapers and radio. Only two percent said they get their news from magazines and journals
Russians with lower incomes tended to watch television more (90 percent) and not use the Internet (95 percent). More Muscovites preferred radio (24 percent) than did rural Russians (nine percent) and those with lesser amounts of education (eight percent), the countrywide poll reported.
Thirty-nine percent of Muscovites named word of mouth reports as their best source of news. Russians with higher educations and active users of the Internet preferred online sources (32 percent), Muscovites identified social networks as their preferred source (23 percent) as did 21 percent of Russians with higher educations.
At the same time, trust in media other than television also fell but by far smaller amounts. The share of those saying they trusted online sources declined from 20 percent in 2009 to 18 percent now, newspapers from 14 percent to 12 percent, and radio from 13 percent to 11 percent, the Levada Center said.
At the same time, the share of Russians who did not or could not identify any source they trusted doubled from four percent to eight percent of the sample, yet another indication of growing alienation.
And as trust in the government media has declined, Russians are expressing increasing skepticism about the situation they find themselves in. According to surveys conducted by sociologists at Moscow’s Finance University, the index of social-economic attitudes of Russians fell almost 50 percent over the last month (fa.ru/projects/macro/Documents/2015_11.pdf, rg.ru/2015/12/16/nastroeniya-site.html and kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5671223576623).