For the most part, I would not depict Russia or its President Putin of possessing optimal skills in public diplomacy. Propaganda, maybe – not public diplomacy. However, despite this, Russia has propelled one of its public diplomacy efforts world wide and with relatively high standards and respect. RT, which stands for Russia Today, is a broadcasting effort that “provides an alternative perspective on major global events, and acquaints an international audience with the Russian viewpoint.”
I love this description particularly because it honestly portrays itself as an effort to disseminate the Russian viewpoint. In my opinion, this statement is excellent and creates all the difference in terms of my respect for this organization. Namely, because unlike Fox News, which claims to be “Fair and Balanced“, RT accepts the fact that their position as a news organization is biased, thus allowing its audience to take that into consideration upon absorbing its information. Knowing that every news organization in the world is biased to some extent, I sincerely respect RT for acknowledging its own bias especially when the majority of news organizations place an enormous amount of effort and capital on ensuring audiences of their complete neutrality.
In addition to their forthright self-portrayal, RT has made a number of accomplishments including reaching an audience of “over 700 million people in 100+ countries” in four languages. Part of this success is undoubtedly due to RT’s outstanding presence on YouTube. RT was actually the first TV news channel to reach one BILLION views on YouTube. RT’s YouTube presence alone shows its owners’ immense foresight into the best media platforms to reach young, emerging audiences.
RT has represented itself honestly, disseminated itself wisely and promoted itself under the purposeful slogan, “Question More“. I see RT as an excellent example of public diplomacy in the way that it promotes and portrays world news stories through the Russian lens. I appreciate that it does this strategically and honestly.
However – while I, personally, respect RT – as an effort to make global audiences like Russia and its people more, I guesstimate that RT is not the taking the best approach. I say this because – while I am quite blunt and unapologetic and appreciate this characteristic in others – I recognize that a lot of people do not appreciate those qualities. While looking at RT’s “USA” page, I am even quite annoyed at the way RT has taken every opportunity to portray the United States government as evil and incompetent. However, that being said, when I see this I remember that RT has already acknowledged its own bias, and that makes me less mad. I also appreciate it because while RT is quite harsh towards the United States, perhaps it does provide, to some extent, a view of the U.S. and the rest of the world that Americans should consider. Much like how the U.S. tends to demonize Russia, perhaps we, as Americans, should take a closer look at ourselves through that hypercritical lens, and make an effort to address some of those critiques that we can’t bring ourselves to admit.
Or, on the other hand, perhaps RT just effectively implemented soft power on Russia’s behalf – persuading me (and others) to think just the way they hoped.