Media Image Of The City In The Context Of Digital Culture


The article presents image characteristics, which help to identify Yekaterinburg. The status of Yekaterinburg as the capital of Sverdlovsk region and the third city in Russia needs to be confirmed. The fact of being a capital (stolichnost) as an image indicator is expressed in the creation of the best favourable investment climate, information technology communications, economic and environmental security, and developed infrastructure in accordance with the international standards. At the level of investment appeal, among other things the image of the city is actively formed also in digital space. The communicative environment of modern digital culture changes relationships between mass media and society, creates conditions for positioning the city via its media image. Media technologies and media environment become instruments of creation and correction of the city’s media image. The informational and communicational environment of the city, which is functioning in media space in a format of media texts, reflects various components of city’s media image, which are the subject of the analysis, whose studies are presented in article. The research, based on methods of cross-disciplinary analysis (culture sociology, an imagelogiya (image science), a medialogiya (media science)), is confirmed by the empirical data of authors gathered by a sociological research of media texts. For determination of media image of Yekaterinburg, the research which included the following methods was conducted: the content analysis of image of Yekaterinburg in literary texts and the content analysis of official media regarding informing the public on Yekaterinburg.

Keywords: Media textsmass mediamedia technologies


The role of digital means of communication and their cultural importance in modern society update a perspective of a mediatization of the city’s image in the process of formation of the regions, territories and cities’ image interacting with information and communication structures. Digital culture indicates not only features of new data holders, the systems of production, storage and data transmission contrary to analog, but also the changes connected with transfomations in the mass media system and the emergence of wider field of artifacts and cultural practices (Sokolova, 2012; Kirillova, 2017). It is possible to refer to the main changes the appearance of active audience (interactive users) and "local", open media and the possibility of interpretation of the text and "material intervention" in the text, etc. (Jenkins, 2006).

The modern city is a special sociocultural space connecting cultural and historical, space-time, axiological, communication, daily and creative (creation of new cultural events) aspects of the city life, which promotes identification of residents, its positioning and the creation of a certain image including media image (Gubergricz, Zamyatina, & Ledovskij, 2015).

The image is understood as "the complete qualitatively certain image of this object that is steadily living and reproduced in mass and/or individual consciousness" (Gritsanov, 2007, p. 418), whose ontological and epistemological signs are the social conditionality, the perceptual nature, stereotypification, estimated character, functions of identification, regulation of communication act. The thing is that "the image owner could act as any object of surrounding reality" (Gritsanov, 2007, p. 418). Using classification of objects, which become objects of social knowledge – the personality, social group, society, the sphere of public practice, material objects, perfect structures, the territory, etc., it is possible to speak also about image of the city.

We define the city image as informational and emotionally coloured, as commonly deliberately creating image, communication element, way of structuring, functioning and change of information, designed to make emotional and psychological impact on target audience, having ability to design reality and being an instrument of controlling the public opinion to make impact on mass and individual consciousness (Kalyuzhnaya, 2018). The image of the city as the system of signs, symbols, stereotypes, archetypes, the myths characterizing a certain territory influences the formation of behavioral standards, life styles, ways of thinking, of system of values, acting as the agent of culture (German, 2018).

Resources for the region are to a great extent determined by the information and communicative environment: the image and reputation of a territorial subject attract or push away owners of resources. Their decision is influenced in turn by communicative intermediaries – the international organizations, expert community, media, the public, which is continuously generating meanings on social network (Gavra, 2016).

Problem Statement

In the context of the digital culture, development of informational society and media space there are pressing issues about the increasing of competitive edge and investment appeal of the city, improving its image and its positive perception by external and internal audience. Social media influence on regional media space, on formation daily communication the practical of the region (Dukin, 2017).

Communication technologies such as: media technologies, advertising and PR-technologies are the subject (and at the same time the object) of the formation of the city’s image (Popova, Grigorieva, & Morozova, 2015). The media image, formed in the course of interaction of media streams and the city’s system of signs and the territory, is the result of new communicational and informational technologies. The media image is defined "as the image created by mass media, advertising, PR, newsrooms, journalists, employees of the authorities ‘press services, commercial structures, business and other representatives of mass communications” in order to highlight the object of making image (imidzhirovaniye) (Morozova, 2013). Media texts in this case become image markers of the territory (Kotler, 2016). Through media texts particular values, norms, symbols characteristics of this city space are broadcasting. Mediatization of the city’s image can be defined as process of integration of urban living space and the media sphere, as a result of which there is a transformation of the city’s image perception by various audiences.

Research Questions

As Tsvetkova (2019) notes, researches directed to studying of history, mentality, traditions, identities of the population of the cities are relevant. The value of these researches is connected with development of the sociocultural, tourist and recreational sphere which is considered as an alternative to development of industrial production.

The digital communication tools integrated into modern people’s life establish relations between people, create the new environment for a person where "there are no mediums of communication, but there is an environment” (Savchuk, 2008, p. 8). How is the city’s image in such environment perceived? How does a mediatization in the conditions of digital culture occur? How does mass media have an influence on the transformation of the city’s image?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study consists in the analysis of the mediatization process of Yekaterinburg’s image in the development context, in positioning it as "third capital" and in the identification of the media role in designing the city’s image.

Research Methods

The research, based on methods of cross-disciplinary analysis (culture sociology, an imagelogiya (image science), a medialogiya (media science)), is confirmed by the empirical data of authors gathered by a sociological research of media texts.

The content analysis (method of the analysis of contents) – the special methodical procedure of the analysis of all types of texts (verbal, visual and other), is the analysis of a kernel of communication, what lies between a communicator and audience, between the author of the message and that to whom this message is addressed. (Chernobrovkina, 2014, p. 68)

For determination of media image of Yekaterinburg, the research which included the following methods was conducted: the content analysis of image of Yekaterinburg in literary texts and the content analysis of official media regarding informing the public on Yekaterinburg.


The content media analysis regarding the public informing on the city of Yekaterinburg

In accordance with the "interested party”, the PR-texts of official media were considered as increasingly broadcasted positive image of Yekaterinburg. On a basis of more than 150 texts, the Yekaterinburg’s media image broadcasting from 5 resources, was analysed, among which

1. Official portal of Yekaterinburg (https://Yekaterinburg. Russian Federation);

2. Official site of Sverdlovsk region Government (;

3. Legislative assembly of Sverdlovsk region (;

4. Ekaterinburg City Council (

The distinctive characteristics, which are most commonly broadcasted in press releases as the integral parts of image of Yekaterinburg in 2017 and 2018 (Table 01 ), were revealed:

Table 1 -
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It is possible to draw the following conclusions based on input data.

In the first instance in 2017 and 2018, Yekaterinburg was positioned as "The cultural capital" (42% and 30% of publications respectively). The articles are devoted to the cultural events which are annually taking place in Yekaterinburg : Night of the museums, Vienna festival, Super MEGA Fest Festival, the XI International theatre festival of modern dramatic art "Kolyada-Plays", musical project "Ural Music Night", festival "Open Air Fest", festival of street art of Stenograffiya, International Jazz EverJazz festival, federal gastronomic festival "Oh, yes! Food!", the open festival of documentary Russian cinema, a festival of the author's August song, the bike rock festival, carried out by a motor club "Black knives"; the folklore festival – "Malachite Casket", which is a fair of handicrafts products and many other events.

The second principal set in Yekaterinburg’s media image formation – "Yekaterinburg – the City of the Comfortable Social Environment" project (30% of publications in 2017 and 60% of publications in 2018) implemented by City administration. Much attention is given to informing citizens on the following strategic programs: health protection of family and the childhood area "Yekaterinburg is the healthy city", education area, cultural development and upbringing "Education – a development basis, the key to success", development of family leisure and recreational facilities area, leisure and health area «Sports Yekaterinburg" and "Yekaterinburg – the megalopolis of culture and art".

The events, implementing programs, are actively highlighted in official sources. For example, Housing Fund reports of Sverdlovsk region on granting apartments to orphan children and children, deprived of parental care in the different cities of the region, are published. Development of social volunteering in the city and the area is outlined. The press conference with participation of successful disabled people of Sverdlovsk region "Stories about EkstrAbiliti" in cultural policy of the region" takes place in the Sverdlovsk regional special library for blind people. On the territory of Sverdlovsk region, the "pilot" project on testing the approaches to establishing a system of disabled people – complex rehabilitation, including disabled children, in context of the Russian Federation state program "The Accessible environment" (2011-2020) is implemented since 2017.

The following directions of media image formation are "Educational Yekaterinburg" (20% and 16% of publications respectively), "Innovative Yekaterinburg" (24% and 20% of publications respectively) and “Youth-led Yekaterinburg” (12% and 8% of publications respectively). Main subjects of press releases: a reception campaign in universities and colleges, results of the competitions" Pedagogue of Year", the “Young pedagogue of year”, the summer health improvement company. Since 2017, the innovative festival of student's achievements takes place. Its main goal – to give a chance to young people for presenting and discussing the ideas and projects with well-known experts, regional and federal stars. The slogan of a student's achievements innovative festival – "Hooray to the progressive students". The interregional practical conference "Education of Disabled Children and Children with Limited Opportunities of Health, the Psychology and Educational, Health and Social Care to the Students with Difficulties in Grasping of the Basic Curriculum" is held since 2017. In Sverdlovsk region Legislative Assembly a youth founded a debate on a subject – #EcoUral: the new culture and creation of "green" economy", which would be held at the initiative of youth public organizations, Legislative Assembly of Sverdlovsk region’s department on youth policy for the promotion of physical culture, sport and tourism . The regional competition of youth of educational institutions and scientific organizations for the best work "My legislative initiative" hosted by regional parliament and the ministry of the general and professional education of Sverdlovsk is held since 2004.

The following publication topics – Yekaterinburg developing (24% and 20% of publications respectively) and development of infrastructure (2% and 26% of publications respectively). There are some actions for development of infrastructure of the city, about implementation of the agreement of City administration and areas about cooperation in the sphere of implementation of the project of complex development of the territory and formation of the comfortable living environment. One of key points – joining forces on medical cluster’s innovative development in the territory by construction of new health buildings and creation of the relevant infrastructure. Urban improvement work goes throughout seven city districts. During the summer period of a street-road repair and construction, the official portal of Yekaterinburg tells which pedestrian zones will be straighten out in the Ural capital this year, besides roads and overpasses. Thanks to the FIFA World Cup, the part of the downtown, adjacent to the stadium, has been changed.

"Yekaterinburg – sports" (16% and 14% of publications respectively). Publications generally were devoted to the organization and holding the FIFA World Cup. Other sporting events did not get much coverage.

"Yekaterinburg – under construction" (18% and 16% of publications respectively) the amount of new housing across Yekaterinburg remains at the high level. In 2017 and 2018, new housing amounted to one million square meters annually under all sources of funds.

"Yekaterinburg – historical" (18% and 16% of publications respectively). Publications do not tell about history of Yekaterinburg. All publications are devoted to actions, which take place in the city in accordance with some historical dates. Some exhibitions of books and the periodicals "Krug Chteniya Tsarskoy Semyi" devoted to carrying out to the Ural capitals of a traditional festival of orthodox culture "Imperial days" work within two summer months – June and July in reading rooms of Municipal merging of libraries of Yekaterinburg. The commemorative plaque appeared on the house where, the family of the world-famous sculptor, artist and the philosopher Ernst, lived from 1937 to 1945.

"Yekaterinburg – tourist" (18% and 24% of publications respectively). The number of the publications about tourist opportunities of Yekaterinburg and its area is growing. A great deal of work on supporting of municipal units to stimulate the development of tourist infrastructure is conducted. Subsidies to five municipalities in the sum of 10.2 million roubles on arrangement of the territory of the popular subjects to tourist display included in excursion programs of tour operators are provided. Work on support of the small and average business enterprises, which implement projects in the sphere of tourism in the territory of our region, is conducted. In Sverdlovsk region, the brand multi-day tourist route "Semi-precious stories of the Urals" was based. In addition, a significant achievement for the Sverdlovsk region, which is positioned at the Federal level and includes Moscow, St. Petersburg, Perm Territory, Tyumen region, besides the middle Urals, became the part of Imperial route region. According to statistics, on average, about 7.5 thousand of foreigners visit Sverdlovsk region every month. According to preliminary estimates, in June 2018, this figure increased in eight times and it is close to the semi-annual value. It should be noted that more than 1200 fans with disabilities from different countries visited Yekaterinburg games of the World Cup.

"Yekaterinburg is safe" (8% and 8% of publications, respectively). In Sverdlovsk region the list of roads, that will be repaired in accordance with the project "Safe and quality roads" this year, has compiled. It includes 37 sections of the Yekaterinburg agglomeration road network. Among them 28.5 kilometers of Federal roads, almost 80 kilometres of roads of regional and inter-municipal importance and 30 kilometres of street Yekaterinburg's network.

"Yekaterinburg is a territory of long-term cooperation with other regions and countries. Yekaterinburg – international" (12% and 16% of publications, respectively). The major part of publications is devoted to the international industrial exhibition "Innoprom", which works in Yekaterinburg since 2010.

"Yekaterinburg-medical" (8% and 18% respectively). It is noted that there is a growth on the health care system of the Sverdlovsk region in 2018 compare to 2017 Department of health administration of the Yekaterinburg city annually publishes data on the demographic situation. In 2017 and 2018, there was a natural population growth. In Moscow during the annual "Russian health week", it is an international forum for the prevention of non-communicable diseases and healthy lifestyles "To a healthy life." The Sverdlovsk region was repeatedly mentioned in the reports as "territory of health", due to the unique regional programs, including "Pyatiletka rashtra" and "Health of the Urals". Projects such as "Medicine without tobacco" and "Antismoking school for police", which have no analogues, are being implemented. In 2016, 2017 the new "road maps" have been created to reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease by the municipality of "Yekaterinburg city". 15 videos, 10 audio clips and a film dedicated to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, broadcasted on Yekaterinburg TV channels, were prepared. In 2016, the program "Healthy student» was created.

"Yekaterinburg – information". In many publications, it is emphasized that the number of people who prefer to apply to the Internet, is growing. Computerization of the election procedure in Yekaterinburg every election cycle is growing, it is about the coverage of technical devices, and quality indicators of video broadcasts from polling stations. On the official portal of Yekaterinburg, you can sign up for a doctor, learn the program of cultural events, find medicine in pharmacies of the city; see transport schedule, list of universities and colleges, traffic data and other data. Many residents use this information system. The picture below (Figure 01 ) shows the characteristics of Yekaterinburg in the form of a histogram, according to the official media in 2017 and 2018.

Figure 1: Characteristic of Yekaterinburg, broadcast by official media in 2017 and 2018
Characteristic of Yekaterinburg, broadcast by official media in 2017 and 2018
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Throughout the Yekaterinburg history there was a number of images connected with natural resources, production potential, historical "bloody image" because of the death of imperial family, political image of Yeltsin, the largest higher education institution of the city and the Urals – UrFU and with the international EXPO exhibition and with the others.

Development of city economy in general is characterized by the processes of decline in industrial output, volumes of consumer demand, the volumes of investment, general for the Russian economy. Therefore, the initial image of Yekaterinburg as industrial city is leaving. The number of the publications devoted to a subject of the industry and production on the official sites demonstrates it.

Today the media Yekaterinburg‘s city image, broadcasted by official sources, creates other city’s associative arraу. The image is being transformed. The Yekaterinburg’s directions of development such as the city of culture, social orientation, tourism, development of medicine, the international center, have been appeared.

Holding the actions focused on formation of a new Yekaterinburg‘s image suppose the updating developed of data infrastructure and safety.

At the same time the topics of education, youth, history of the city, the territory of economic development, construction remain relevant.

Formation by official sources of image policy influences on perception of the territory by both internal, and external consumers. Today Yekaterinburg is presented as the territory favorable for cultural, social and economic development. Development of tourism, infrastructure and safety allow to attract guests both on participation in business actions, and to travel.

Successful formation and advance of Yekaterinburg‘s media image is directly connected with the appearing latest electronic technologies – the Internet, first of all. Internet space is identified ,in accordance with the city‘s population, his guests according to historical memory, mental features, stereotypes and image of the city.

The communicative environment of modern digital culture changes, mass media and society relationship, creating conditions for positioning of the city through its media image. Media technologies and a media environment become instruments of creation and correction of city’s media image at the level of investment appeal the image of the city is actively formed including in digital space. Image characteristics, which help to identify Yekaterinburg, to distinguish it from several other cities, to design estimated perception and eventually to have an influence on its development and its status.


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07 August 2019

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Popova, O., & Kalyuzhnaya*, E. (2019). Media Image Of The City In The Context Of Digital Culture. In Z. Marina Viktorovna (Ed.), Journalistic Text in a New Technological Environment: Achievements and Problems, vol 66. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 397-405). Future Academy.