The Russian plane crash and the battle of narratives

We examine the conflicting media reports of the Russian plane disaster in Egypt; plus, the rise of automated journalism.

When a Russian-operated airline went down in Sinai on October 31, killing all 224 on board, it drew together Russia, the UK and Egypt in what has now become a battle over the airwaves to contain negative publicity around their own countries’ involvement.

In Egypt, President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, keen to avoid any more economic damage to the country’s beleaguered tourism industry, downplayed the possibility of terrorism and any criticisms of security at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport.

Russia and its President Vladimir Putin have worked to undermine the idea that it was a retaliation by ISIL provoked by Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria.

Meanwhile, Britain and its NATO allies have used the crash as an opportunity to criticise Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict. All these competing narratives are obscuring the facts.