Spinning Russia

"It’s no secret that Moscow has an image problem. When Russian President Vladimir Putin makes headlines, it’s usually for jailing a businessman or cracking down on dissent," writes Julian Evans. Convinced that its image problem is due to anti-Russian "Western media bias," the Kremlin is trying to curry favor with foreign correspondents and has built its own English-language TV channel, Russia Today. "With a staff of 300 journalists, including around 70 imported from abroad, the channel will offer 'global news from a Russian perspective,'" Evans writes. "The Kremlin has spent $30 million setting it up and has attracted foreign journalists to Moscow with salaries starting at $60,000 a year. But the imported journalists are, in many cases, fresh out of journalism school, know not a word of Russian, and lack basic knowledge of Russian politics or history. For many of them, the experience is a bit of a laugh, a gap year at the Kremlin’s expense. There is already some tension between them and the Russian employees, who know 10 times as much about Russia, and are paid salaries half as big."