Go Die, Become Headline Story of the Day

The news that Armenian actress Luiza Ghambaryan was in a car accident on June 18 became one of the most read stories of the month on Aravot.am, receiving several thousand hits. 

The news that Ghambaryan herself said “Nothing happened to me; it wasn’t a major accident; [only] the vehicle was damaged” wasn’t even the most read story of the day — it received only a few dozen hits.

Neither the former nor the latter appeared in the editor’s picks, among the headline stories. It was solely the readers’ preference.

Why our audience loves news about accidents remains a mystery for me. The most viewed video on Aravot’s YouTube channel is “The driver of a Brabus is dead” — it was viewed 278,858 times.

The video was uploaded three years ago, back when photojournalist Gagik Shamshyan was working with Aravot, but till today, users leave comments, debating the monetary amount of the damages, discussing that if he was wearing his seatbelt, the driver wouldn’t have died, and so on. 

And this isn’t even the death of anyone famous. News of the death of more or less celebrities immediately become the most read. This phenomena isn’t unique to Armenia; a recent example is what happened in Russia regarding Russian singer Zhanna Friske’s then impending death [RU]. Though we saw the smaller scale version of the same in Armenia when local singers Varduhi Vardanyan and Hasmik Gharibyan passed away.  

And if such news are accompanied by the promise of a “video” or “photos,” they are doomed to checking the strength of the servers to withstand hundreds of simultaneous views.

Oh how our people like to watch crying “stars,” perhaps to be convinced “that nothing human is alien to them.” They like to rummage through their beds, examine their faith; also viewed very much are wedding photos.

It seems I said nothing extraordinary: this is how it is all over the world. But, unlike the rest of the world, where serious news outlets and those that satisfy the curiosity to “watch lovers through the keyhole” are more or less clearly demarcated, in our corner of the world everything is mixed together.

And truly serious news outlets, if they don’t saturate their newsfeed with “yellow” news, then at least they create sections, saturating them with the life of celebrities, news about accidents, and so on, which ensures the lion’s share of the website’s hits. 

There’s no other choice: our advertisers are interested in what place a news outlet secures in the index of views of news outlets and not based on what color of news it earned that place.

Anna Israelyan

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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