Hrazdan: A Few Lessons for Media

Samvel Martirosyan

Media researcher

Let us digress from the political aspect of the mayoral elections in Hrazdan this past Sunday, since this isn’t an issue for disucssion here. Instead, let us examine what happened in the news media during elections. A few observations, which are important — especially considering, that which happened in Hrazdan will be more widely applied in the May parliamentary elections.

I would like to turn my attention to the flow of information, which, in a very generalized sense, can be called “opposition” (as pro-government flows of information are usually more uninteresting and predictable). Let’s see what impact these sources had on the overall area of information online. 

Observation No. 1: Citizen journalism, social media and alternative sources didn’t work. Having a strong, solid community of supporters in Hrazdan, the opposition didn’t succeed in shaping the flow of information. The stream from Hrazdan on Twitter, for example, was quite meager.  

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:182:]]The only information with the #Hrazdan hashtag communicated by Yerevan resident, Twitter user @HimaKaren. The potential of alternative media practically wasn’t used. In this case it’s important to understand that alternative media is for not only spreading negative information, but, for example, raising awareness of the overall situation. 

Observation No. 2: In the case of news outlets, drastic fluctuations in professionalism were observed. For example, local daily Hraparak publishes a piece with the headline “Sasun Mikaelyan Wins (updated)”. A little while later, the same article has the completely opposite headline: “Sasun Loses (updated)”. Or Lurer.com reports on “Police Terror in Hrazdan” but there’s no sense at all of terror in the video. It goes without saying that such news reports not only don’t inform citizens, but also create a atmosphere that’s not positive. Generally, these reports can be discussed further, but these are only a few examples that depict the whole situation — in many cases, news outlets in Hrazdan weren’t solving their original problems. 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:183:]]Observation No. 3: One of the videos shot in Hrazdan, unfortunately, penetrated Armenia’s news media sector. Let’s remember last fall: the nation had dedicated itself to the matter of, to put it mildly, nude photos of one of its actresses. But we were lucky: though nearly all online news media used this topic to raise their ratings, none of them published the actual photos in question.

This time everything ended much worse. A video was uploaded online in which representatives of the Republican Party of Armenia election headquarters were uttering outrageous curses to the unknown camera operator. I hadn’t yet come across such vulgarities in the press (no need to say that neither would you hear such things in everyday life). Unfortunately, this video was published by not only three unknown sites launched yesterday, but also, for example, the highly respected Hetq

After Hrazdan it became clear that we have to approach May more level-headed and professional, otherwise the parliamentary elections will turn into media chaos.

Samvel Martirosyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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