Online Media Coverage of the Artsakh Conflict

From February 1 to 31 April, 2019, online media coverage of the Artsakh conflict was in the spotlight of “Media Advocate” initiative. 34 leading news agencies have been monitored. The articles were selected through international analytical programs.

3 categories were selected: News / Analysis / Opinion

In addition, the materials have also been segmented as negative / positive / neutral

The articles that do not reflect the policies and ideas of the authorities are negative, the ones that represent the views of authorities are positive, and finally those articles which express comprehensive opinions or which are official releases are neutral.

During the specified period, 13681 articles were monitored.

The graph (See gr. 1) illustrates the image obtained by combining the results of selected categories and segments. The chart represents the X and Y coordinate axis, where the horizontal coordinate is the segment (positive / negative / neutral), and the vertical one is the category (news / analysis / opinion). During the calculations positive and analytic identifiers were marked with (+), negative and comment (-) signs, neutral and news with (0) number.

During this period of monitoring the topic of the Artsakh conflict was very popular in Armenia. After the change of government, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has repeatedly stated that Artsakh should become a negotiating side. This meant that there should have been a change in the negotiation format of the last 20 years. Actually, the Prime Minister stated that he does not accept the previous negotiation format, besides he will negotiate with his own agenda. This statement caused many discussions, some were for, and some were against it.

Before the official meeting between Pashinyan and Aliyev, they have met several times and, according to the government, these meetings were not planned and the conversations during the meetings, one of which lasted over 80 minutes, remained unknown. After some analyzes, the press and the public began to discuss the thesis, according to which Pashinyan wants to “make concessions on Artsakh”, “hand over the lands,” while the pro-government wing denied these rumors.

These discussions could have taken longer if Pashinyan-Aliev meeting did not take place. Various discussions were held, after the meeting. The opposition reminded the Prime Minister that the latter had gone to negotiations without a representative of Artsakh and that Artsakh has not become a negotiating side. Pashinyan’s team responded to such accusations, saying “everything will not happen at once”. Now, the “bilateral shooting” of Pashinyan-Aliev continues, and the behavior of the Azerbaijani side is becoming more aggressive at this moment.

The topic of “handing over the land” has become more active after Anna Hakobyan’s visit to the United States and a scandalous interview given to the “Voice of America”. The prime minister had to make an extensive commentary on his Facebook account, related to this very interview, which though did not satisfy different politicians and public representatives, who continued to insist that Anna Hakobyan made such a scandalous statement deliberately.

From the graph and monitoring results, one can conclude that some of the broadcasters are trying to act impartially, but they do not succeed completely, and the others, on the contrary, are either in the camp of the opposition or a government. It is noteworthy that the state news service does not maintain equality either.

P.S. The theme of Artsakh is both vitally important for the society and very sensitive at the same time. This issue should not be a subject of political speculation and it should not be used to earn dividends. News outlets and politicians should realize that every careless word and action on this topic can be a threat to the soldier who serves on the border and to the security of the state.

The “Media Advocate” initiative will continue to focus on the events; in particular, any encroachment and biased approach to freedom of expression will be harshly assessed.