Making Sense of the News in a Hybrid Regime: How Young Russians Decode State TV and an Oppositional Blog


Corresponding author: Florian Toepfl; e-mail:


The past 2 decades have seen an increasingly intense debate on how the rise of Internet-mediated communication has impacted politics in (semi)authoritarian regimes. Previous works have adopted a wide array of approaches. Yet, to date no major study has investigated how citizens in these regimes are making sense of political messages they encounter online in the new, more fragmented media environments of the Internet age. In an initial attempt to fill this gap, this explorative study juxtaposes how young Russians make sense of a liberal-democratic blog entry and, by contrast, a news broadcast from state-controlled TV. On the basis of the findings from 20 in-depth interviews, the article discusses promising avenues for future audience research in hybrid regimes.