Invitation to participate in audience research project on international news coverage of the FIFA 2018 World Cup

Published June 14, 2018

Professor Marie Gillespie has asked for your assistance.  Please read this letter from her.


Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Walton Hall

Milton Keynes




Dear Friends, Football Fans and Colleagues,

Re: Invitation to participate in audience research project on international news coverage of the FIFA 2018 World Cup

As Russia is set to host the FIFA World Cup this month, there is talk of controversy – both on and off the pitch. Recent UK press reports predict a repetition of the violence that marred English-Russian fans relations at the Euro 2016 tournament in Marseille.

What are your expectations? Would you like to play the role of a media pundit for our research in a private Facebook group?

We are a group of researchers at The Open University and, as many of you will already be aware, we conducted a comprehensive historical and sociological study of BBC World Service 1932-2012 – exploring how a unique cosmopolitan culture was fostered at Bush House and some of the ways in which the politics of representing world events were handled.

Since then we have moved on to research other international news organisations in various contexts. This current research is part of a broader project into RT (formerly Russia Today), and is funded by the arts and Humanities Research Council. Please find out more about our research by visiting

The ‘Reframing Russia for the Global Media Sphere’ project concerns RT’s coverage of the World Cup: how RT’s coverage compares with other sports coverage that you watch; whether you find RT’s coverage of the political dimensions of the World Cup to be as partial and problematic as its current reputation would suggest (as ‘mere propaganda’ or ‘simply a mouthpiece of Putin’); and whether a certain image of Russia, Russians and/or Putin is being projected onto the world stage.

As seasoned journalists and ‘Bushmen’ these debates are not new to you but we would like you to suspend your current assumptions and take a look at RT’s coverage. RT TV is available on Freeview but also live on You Tube – and we are very much interested in social media debates around RT’s coverage.

If you are interested in discussing the World Cup as an event of global importance, we would like to invite you to join our digital audience panel – a kind of experiment in audience research in itself. It would involve joining a private Facebook group where you share your thoughts and comment on RT’s coverage as often as you can or feel inclined to – comparing and contrasting RT’s with other kinds of coverage. All we ask is that you visit or view RT’s social media channels/TV broadcasts a few times a week and then share your views in the Facebook group

We would like you to consider these conversations as an extension of your everyday conversations about the FIFA World Cup and its coverage. But our interests are not so much in the quality of the play as in how Russia is being represented and how RT covers conflicts and controversies during the tournament.

Participating in this project is intended to be serious fun. We anticipate that a small but perfectly formed group of about 50 well-informed people of diverse backgrounds with interesting (international) perspectives on the wider political and cultural  issues raised by football will join the conversation. Your anonymity and confidentiality will be respected in any subsequent academic or media publication based on our analysis of your commentary

After the World Cup ends in July we would also like to invite you to participate in a focus group to discuss RT’s coverage of the World Cup in person at the Open University in Camden Town, London. We are able to provide all participants who join the Facebook group and participate regularly in a focus group with a £20 Amazon voucher.

Please contact and/or

if you would you like to participate in our research and join our private Facebook group asap. Please also pass this invitation on to any of your friends and fans with whom you’d like to discuss these issues.

Thank you and best wishes,


Dr Rhys Crilley and Professor Marie Gillespie


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