The Drum has relaunched The Drum Show with a multipart series on the information war around Ukraine.
The news magazine show will feature insight from expert guests, practitioners from our industry on the ground in Ukraine, and The Drum journalists, the series will explore the realities of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the individuals, brands, and platforms involved.
The first episode, to air on Friday 11 March, live on YouTube and The Drum's social channels, examines how the war is impacting reputations - both of the states involved and of the brands that are responding to the crisis. The Drum co-founder Gordon Young is joined in-studio by journalists Hannah Bowler and Chris Sutcliffe to discuss the rapid escalation of brand response to Russia, both through overt and tacit sanctions and exits.
The response of adtech and social platforms has been swift and very broad, reducing the ability of Russian state media to monetize through digital channels. However, the opacity and complexity of the digital ad market means that pseudo-legitimate players are continuing to promote Russian-sponsored disinformation. At the same time, the closure of some channels in and out of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus is potentially starving those populations of legitimate news and information at a time when it has never been more vital.
Rob Blackie, former Liberal Democrat candidate for the London mayoralty and digital consultant, takes us through his crowdfunded campaign to use those complex adtech channels to disseminate legitimate information.
The panel also discusses how reputations are being remade in the face of war. News organizations are proving their worth in finding new means of keeping the public informed, while individual journalists are risking their lives to get information in and out of Ukraine. New ‘fake news’ laws in Russia make the practices of journalism harder to achieve, but even arch BBC critic Nadine Dorries appeared moved by the corporation’s work in Ukraine. From consumer-facing brands, the response has been to censure or stop sales, putting purpose above profit in a tangible way.
Individual politicians like Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy have used the memeification of the information war to their advantage, using the language of the internet to disseminate information far more effectively than the information control-based means of his Russian counterpart.
Finally, the war has demonstrated the value of symbols. The Ukrainian flag has come to stand for more than just geography, while the ‘Z’ symbol of Russian military forces is being used as branding by pro-Putin influencers. While it might sound counterintuitive, the communications industry is playing a key role in this real-world conflict.
To discuss all that and more, tune into The Drum Show on Friday 11 March, 7am EST/12pm GMT/7pm SGT live on our YouTube and social channels.