Propaganda in the month of September


In reading the Estonian media, we can say with conviction that September was the month of stories written about China.

Investigative journalists from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania produced a series of articles on the various forms of Chinese influence activities. In Estonia, a series of stories was published by Postimees, which included, for example, an article on how the Chinese intelligence service is increasingly targeting Estonia and how Chinese investment is threatening the independence of countries. Holger Roonema, head of the Postimees investigative editorial board, summarized the series in an opinion article.

The stories triggered a Chinese contra response – the Chinese embassy in Estonia reprimanded a Postimees journalists.

The media also attracted the attention of the Chinese government’s Wen Wei Po newspaper, which mocked the Baltic States: corrupt politicians, ridiculous wages, and inter-ethnic conflicts. The Latvian Foreign Minister consequently summoned the Chinese Chargé d’Affaire, head of the Chinese Embassy in Latvia to familiarize him with the history of the  “Baltic chain” protest as well as the economic and political achievements of Latvia over the last 30 years.

Andres Herkel also wrote about China’s influence on Estonians’ thought process in September’s Postimees columns. He said that the way Chinese Communists think is incomprehensible to free Europeans, consequently making it difficult for people to appraise its impact.

September’s Diplomaatia is devoted to Asia, including an entire section on China, and Sirp published a story of Urmas and Liisa Hõbepappel’s on China’s threat to the Estonian public.

In September, ERR wrote about a resolution on crimes committed by totalitarian regimes, pointing out among other things that recognizing and raising awareness of crimes of the Communist and Nazi regimes is an important European response to today’s information war.

Hans H. Luik was a guest on ETV’s morning show „Hommik Anuga“ (the morning with Anu). Luik recalled the recent 30th anniversary of Eesti Express as well as discussing the influence activities of Russia, pointing out the worrisome fact of Russia’s influence activities directed against Estonia, which target non-Estonian speaking ethnic Russian youth.

In September, ERR Novaator wrote about a study by media researchers Maria Celeste Wagner and Pablo Boczkowski, which showed that current media consumers have a negative attitude towards the quality of news, distrust information on Social Media and are concerned about how information is manipulated and especially worry about how others use information.

In September, Postimees wrote about a report prepared by the Oxford Internet Institute, according to which researchers found evidence of organized Social Media manipulation campaigns in 70 countries. According to the report, there were 48 such countries in 2018 and 28 in 2017.

ERR also wrote in September about Social media manipulation, which forwarded a report on Twitter that the environment had closed down thousands of accounts spreading fake news and pro-government propaganda around the world, including the United Arab Emirates, China and Spain.

In September ERR will launch the Nutika Elu (Smart Life) initiative. This is a project led by ERR Novaator and involves Tartu and Tallinn University media researchers, Radio theater, „Nova“, Vikerraadio, Radio 2 as well as many others, who are in tune with a smart digital diet. The Baltic Center of Media Excellence supports the project.

In September, ERR also published a summary of Katrin Kangur’s doctoral thesis on how films affect our understanding of World War II and where lies the truth

Photos: screenshots of online publications