Estonia’s Russian-speaking Audience’s Media Attitudes, Preferences and Susceptibility to the Spread of Fake News and Information Disorder in Media Outlets




fake news, information disorder, Russian minority, polarization, distrust


A multiplicity of infospheres in a country, especially in those with a significant proportion of language minorities, creates polarization and distrust towards state institutions. This article addresses the problem by exploring the attitudes of Estonia’s Russian-speaking minority towards news media content regarding fake news and information disorder. The semi-structured interviews were conducted with Russian-speakers living in Estonia (N=29), using stimulus materials to induce reactions related to elements of trust in the materials. The results showed that the interviewees have—diverse media preferences, a critical eye for the news, more trust in Estonia’s Russian-language media, and are quite capable of recognizing fake news and information disorder. The study challenges the view that Estonia’s Russian-speaking minority lives in the isolated infosphere of Russia. The article argues that more attention should be drawn to information quality in the news aimed at this language minority audience.

Author Biography

Mihhail Kremez, University of Tartu

Mihhail Kremez, a PhD student at the University of Tartu, Estonia. His research interests include the agency of journalists and media audiences, framing, social constructionism, news about Russia in the EU media, and their view-points.


Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2018). Reflecting on reflexive thematic analysis. Qual. Res. Sport Exerc. Health 11(4), 589–597.

Brummett, B. (2018). Techniques of Close Reading (2nd ed.). SAGE Publications.

Bryman, A. (2008). Social Research Methods. Oxford University Press.

Dorofeeva, V. (2019). Feĭkovye novosti v sovremennom mediaprostranstve [Fake News in Modern Media Space]. Theoretical and Practical Issues of Journalism, 2019, vol. 8, no. 4: 774–786. DOI: 10.17150/2308–6203.2019.8(4).

Greifeneder, R., Jaffé, M. E., Newman, E. J., & Schwarz, N. (2020). What is New and True about Fake News? In The psychology of fake news: Accepting, sharing, and correcting misinformation. essay, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Hall, S. (2006). Encoding/Decoding // Media and Cultural Studies. KeyWorks. London: Blackwell Publishers, 2006: 163–173.

Hasebrink, U., & Popp, J. (2006). Media Repertoires as a Result of Selective Media Use. A Conceptual Approach to the Analysis of Patterns of Exposure. Communications, 31 (3): 369–387.

Ireton, C., & Posetti, J. (2018). Journalism, Fake News & Disinformation: Handbook for Journalism Education and Training. UNESCO Publishing.

Jõesaar, A. (2015). One Country, Two Polarised Audiences: Estonia and the Deficiency of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. Media and Communication, 3 (4): 45−51. DOI: 10.17645/mac.v3i4.383.

Jõesaar, A. (2020). Elektroonilise meedia jälgimine 2014–2019 [Monitoring the Electronic Media 2014–2019]. Eesti Akadeemilise Ajakirjanduse Seltsi aastaraamat, 2019: 73–85.

Kantar Emor. (2020a, June 19). Eesti elanike armastatuim meediabränd on ETV [The Most Popular Media Brand of Estonian Residents is ETV].

Kantar Emor. (2020b, March 30). Eesti elanikud usaldavad enim ETVd ja ERRi uudisteportaali [Estonian Residents Trust ETV and the ERR News Portal the Most].

Kaprāns, M., & Mieriņa, I. (2019). Ideological Polarization in Baltic Societies. A Cross-National Survey Report. Riga: University of Latvia Institute of Philosophy and Sociology & Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Retrieved September 23, 2021 from

Kazakov, A. (2018). Political Segment of Students’ Media Literacy: An Approach to Measure It. — Media Education (Mediaobrazovanie), 58 (3): 63–71.

Kremez, M., & Kõuts-Klemm, R. (2021). Framing Russia in the Estonian, German, and Bulgarian Online Media: Coverage of Two Concrete Events. Theoretical and Practical Issues of Journalism, 10 (1): 109−129. DOI: 10.17150/2308–6203.2021.10(1).

Kõuts-Klemm, R., & Kremez, M. (2021). Venemaa meedia Eesti uudisteportaalide infoallikana: infoökoloogia juhtumiuuring [Russian Media as a Source of Information for Estonian News Portals: A Case Study of Information Ecology]. Eesti Akadeemilise Ajakirjanduse Seltsi aastaraamat, 2020: 106–120.

Leech, B. L. (2002). Asking Questions: Techniques for Semistructured Interviews. PS: Political Science & Politics, 35: 665–668.

Livingstone, S. (2013). The Participation Paradigm in Audience Research. The Communication Review. 16(1–2).

Munday, D., & Chandler, R. (2011). A Dictionary of Media and Communication (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Oliver, D., Serovich, J., & Mason, T. (2006). Constraints and Opportunities with Interview Transcription: Towards Reflection in Qualitative Research. Social Forces, Volume 84, Issue 2, December 2005: 1273–1289,

Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. (2005). Qualitative Interviewing: The art of hearing data, 2nd edn, London: Sage Publications.

Russia rescinds independent Novaya Gazeta’s online media license. (2022, Sep. 15). The Moscow Times.

Russia’s Dozhd TV receives Dutch broadcast license after Latvia Row. (2023, Jan. 10). The Moscow Times.

Saar Poll. (2014). Päevakajalised sündmused ja erinevad infokanalid [Current Events and Various Information Channels]. Tallinn.

Seppel, K. (2021). Meedia ja infoväli [Media and Infosphere]. Eesti ühiskonna lõimumise monitooring. (71−81). Kultuuriministeerium.

Shelgachova, G. (2020, Apr. 6). “A byl li mal’chik?”: v Kuzbasse rebenka nazvali Kovidom [„Was there a boy?”: In Kuzbass the child was named Covid]. Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Solts, V. (2015, Oct. 15). Proekt “Novoĭ gazety” zarabotal v stranakh Baltii [Novaya Gazeta’s Project Launched in the Baltic States].

Sullivan, L. E. (Ed.) (2009). Selective Exposure. The SAGE Glossary of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. SAGE Publications. P. 465.

Tandoc, E., Lim, Zh., & Ling, R. (2017). Defining “Fake News”: A typology of scholarly definitions. Digital Journalism, 6: 1–17. DOI: 10.1080/21670811.2017.1360143.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. (2016). Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation. Retrieved September 23, 2021 from

Toomla, R. (2010). Mitte-eestlaste ühiskondlik-poliitiline aktiivsus ja osalemine [Socio-Political Activity and Participation of non-Estonians]. Tartu: Tartu Ülikool, Riigiteaduste Instituut.

Törrönen, J. (2002). Semiotic Theory on Qualitative Interviewing with Stimulus Texts. Qualitative Research. 2: 343–362. DOI: 10.1177/146879410200200304.

Vihalemm, T., & Juzefovičs, J. (2020a). Navigating Conflicts through the Media: The Skeptical and Self-Responsible Repertoires of Baltic Russian-Speakers. East European Politics and Societies and Cultures, November, 2020: 1−23. DOI: 10.1177/0888325420964946.

Vihalemm, T., & Juzefovičs J. (2020b). Sense-making of Conflicting Political News among Baltic Russian-speaking Audiences. National Identities: 1−23. DOI: 10.1080/14608944.2020.1723512.

Vihalemm, T., Juzefovičs, J., & Leppik, M. (2019). Identity and Media-use Strategies of the Estonian and Latvian Russian-speaking Populations amid Political Crisis. Europe-Asia Studies, 71(1): 48–70.

Vincent, J., & Stacey, K. (2013). Using Multimedia Stimulus Materials in an Electronic Interview to Gain In-Depth Responses from Professionals: A Case Study (Chapter 18). In N. Sappleton (Ed.), Advancing Research Methods with New Technologies: 316–328. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference IGI Global. DOI: 10.4018/978–1-4666–3918–8.

Vorotnikov, V., & Ivanova, N. (2019). Russian Soft Power in the Baltic States through the Lens of Research: Traditions, Competition, Confrontation. Baltic Region, Vol. 11, no. 3: 107–124.

Wagnsson, C., & Barzanje, C. (2019). A Framework for Analysing Antagonistic Narrative Strategies: A Russian Tale of Swedish Decline. Media, War & Conflict, Nov 2019: 1–19.

Wardle, C. (2020). Essential Guide to Understanding Information disorder. UK: First Draft News, Sep 22.

Wardle, C., & Derakhshan, H. (2017). INFORMATION DISORDER: Toward an Interdisciplinary Framework for Research and Policy Making. Council of Europe.

Watanabe, K. (2017). The Spread of the Kremlin’s Narratives by a Western News Agency during the Ukraine Crisis. The Journal of International Communication, 23:1: 138–158.

Young, J. C., Rose, D. C., Mumby, H. S., Benitez Capistros, F., Derrick, C. J., Finch, T., & Mukherjee, N. (2018). A Methodological Guide to Using and Reporting on Interviews in Conservation Science Research. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 9(1): 10–19. DOI:10.1111/2041–210X.12828.




How to Cite

Kremez, M. (2023). Estonia’s Russian-speaking Audience’s Media Attitudes, Preferences and Susceptibility to the Spread of Fake News and Information Disorder in Media Outlets. Central European Journal of Communication, 16(1(33), 19-39.



Scientific Papers