Yandex News has a new function that allows the company to identify the first source of any particular news story. Known as “Where did it all begin,” the program in its first month tracked 3600 primary sources, 40 percent of them from Russian publications and 28 percent from foreign ones.
Among “traditional” sources, TASS led with three percent, followed by Kommersant with 2.9 percent, Interfax with 2.8 percent, Reuters with 1.7 percent, all far less than Facebook or Twitter. Among official sites, the largest sources of news came from Kremlin.ru, cbr.ru, and mid.ru, the sites of the Russian president, central bank and foreign ministry respectively.
In reporting these findings, RBC noted that Yandex News is “the largest aggregator of news in Russia,” processing data flowing in from “more than 6,500 Russian and foreign media partners. In December 2015, its monthly audience was 22.5 million people.”
The shift from traditional to social media is striking and is a reminder that the Kremlin faces a nearly impossible task of shutting off the flow of news emanating from places like Facebook and Twitter, outlets that are increasingly used by those who cannot or do not want to post or be published elsewhere.