Ryabinska, Natalya

Ukraine's Post-Communist Mass Media


Between Capture and Commercialization



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Mit einem Vorwort von Marta Dyczok
SPPS 162

Natalya Ryabinska calls into question the commonly held opinion that the problems with media reform and press freedom in former Soviet states merely stem from the cultural heritage of their communist (and pre-communist) past. Focusing on Ukraine, she argues that, in the period after the fall of communism, peculiar new obstacles to media independence have arisen. They include the telltale structure of media ownership, with news reporting being concentrated in the hands of politically engaged business tycoons, the fuzzy and contradictory legislation of the media realm, and the informal institutions of political interference in mass media.
The book analyzes interrelationships between politics, the economy, and media in Ukraine, especially their shadowy sides guided by private interests and informal institutions. Being embedded in comparative politics and post-communist media studies, it helps to understand the nature and workings of the Ukrainian media system situated in-between democracy and authoritarianism. It offers insights into the inner logic of Ukraine’s political system and institutional arrangement in the post-Soviet period. Based on empirical data of 1994–2013, this study also highlights many of the barriers to democratic reforms that have been persisting in Ukraine since the Revolution of Dignity of 2013–2014.

186 Seiten, Paperback. 2017
ISBN 978-3-8382-1011-7
ISSN 1614-3515



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“Natalya Ryabinska has written a very informative and well-timed book. By referring to the ‘fluid’ state of Ukrainian media she masterfully maneuvers between general trends and tendencies detected in the rich corpus of transitology research and matches those with detailed subtleties of the studied context. By vividly describing relationships between polity, economy, and media, she progressively releases the statement that threats to media freedom, its independence, and further democratization in Ukraine stem not from a lack of appropriate legislation (i.e. formal institutions) but rather local conditions and practices shaped through a complex variety of contextually destined political and economic influences. […] this book achieves much more—it offers fresh insights into the rises and falls of ‘daily democracy’ in Ukraine.”
Auksė Balčytienė, Professor of Journalism, Vytautas Magnus University at Vilnius, Lithuania

“This book represents a very timely, well-informed, and intelligible analysis of the troublesome development of the media system in post-Soviet Ukraine. Applying the dual concept of state/media capture, Ryabinska convincingly dissects some of the most pressing structural problems currently impeding the process of media democratization in this country. Her emphasis on exposing informal practices and rules shaping the relationship between media and politics, as well as the explicit embeddedness of the study in the broader context of the situation in post-transition Central and Eastern Europe will make this book an original and highly valuable contribution to the study of journalism, media, and democracy in this part of the world. “
Dr. Václav Štětka, Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies, Loughborough University, UK

“This is one of the most detailed and sophisticated analyses of the Ukrainian media system. By thoroughly examining its political and economic context, Natalya Ryabinska shows why the post-communist transformation of the Ukrainian media did not lead to the establishment of an adequate tool for informing citizens and overseeing the behaviour of the authorities. As the post-Maidan Ukraine seeks to finally build a working democracy, it is important to learn from earlier failures in this endeavour.”
Volodymyr Kulyk, Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiev


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