Cover image for Changing channels : television and the struggle for power in Russia
Changing channels : television and the struggle for power in Russia
Mickiewicz, Ellen Propper.
Personal Author:
Revised and expanded edition.
Publication Information:
Durham, NC : Duke University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xv, 372 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1992.6 .M48 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



New in paperback
Revised and expanded

During the tumultuous 1990s, as Russia struggled to shed the trappings of the Soviet empire, television viewing emerged as an enormous influence on Russian life. The number of viewers who routinely watch the nightly news in Russia matches the number of Americans who tune in to the Super Bowl, thus making TV coverage the prized asset for which political leaders intensely--and sometimes violently--compete. In this revised and expanded edition of Changing Channels, Ellen Mickiewicz provides many fascinating insights, describing the knowing ways in which ordinary Russians watch the news, skeptically analyze information, and develop strategies for dealing with news bias.
Covering the period from the state-controlled television broadcasts at the end of the Soviet Union through the attempted coup against Gorbachev, the war in Chechnya, the presidential election of 1996, and the economic collapse of 1998, Mickiewicz draws on firsthand research, public opinion surveys, and many interviews with key players, including Gorbachev himself. By examining the role that television has played in the struggle to create political pluralism in Russia, she reveals how this struggle is both helped and hindered by the barrage of information, advertisements, and media-created personalities that populate the airwaves. Perhaps most significantly, she shows how television has emerged as the sole emblem of legitimate authority and has provided a rare and much-needed connection from one area of this huge, crisis-laden country to the next.
This new edition of Changing Channels will be valued by those interested in Russian studies, politics, media and communications, and cultural studies, as well as general readers who desire an up-to-date view of crucial developments in Russia at the end of the twentieth century.

Author Notes

Ellen Mickiewicz is James R. Shepley Professor of Public Policy Studies and Director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Communications and Journalism at Duke University. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including Split Signals: Television and Politics in the Soviet Union .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

"In struggles for power, television is still the prize," Mickiewicz claims, as she meticulously analyses the enormous role TV played in helping Russia achieve a semblance of political pluralism in the 1990s. In her usual thorough manner, the author shows how the medium grew from a state-controlled monopoly at the end of the Soviet period to a prized asset for political leaders seeking its attention and entrepreneurs lusting after its profits. Mickiewicz empties her research toolbox, using firsthand reporting, interviews with political leaders (including Gorbachev), television chiefs, and lay people, polls, and content analyses to learn how television officials differ in their journalistic viewpoints, how news and opinion actually appear, and how ordinary Russians navigate through newscasts. She scrutinizes TV coverage of specific events--glasnost, elections, Chechnya, Chernobyl, the 1998 economic collapse--and also considers general phenomena such as television and reform, commerce, press freedom, pluralism, and viewers/voters. The reader quickly becomes aware that Mickiewicz was on the scene--feverishly gathering, challenging, and documenting countless bits of information, taking her own photographs, and weaving everything into a lively and alternately anecdotal, investigative, and interpretative story that makes for fascinating reading. The result: one of the most important books to date on the role of television in the political process. All collections. J. A. Lent; University of Western Ontario

Table of Contents

Preface to Revised and Enlarged Edition
Television: The Prize
Soviet Television Rulers and Their Empire
Closely Watched Targets: The Nightly News, the Military, and Lenin
Pushing the Envelope: Reforming from Within
Viewers and Voters: The First Competitive Elections and the Rise of Alternative News
Television and Crisis: The End of Soviet Rule
Between Putsch and Revolt
Pictures, Parties, and Leaders: Television and Elections in the New Russia
Room for Views: Television and the Play of Controversial Positions
The Media Market: Politics, Commerce, and Press Freedom
Television at War: Private Television News Under Fire
Changing Channels on the Most Powerful Medium