The “Region” research center tried to answer a question that many people are interested in: who owns this or that media outlet, for example, ZLM.am.
The head of the center Laura Baghdasaryan says that online platforms are often opened in Armenia, many people are interested in what it is, a media outlet or another website, what is the peculiarity of who the founder is, and so on. In her opinion, these questions are asked not only by researchers and journalists but also by the audience.
Unlike journalists, who are able to find the answers to those questions, it is much more difficult for the audience.
The “Online Identification Certificates” survey of Armenian media examined 60 online platforms, many of which do not provide complete information about themselves.
“At first I thought that the situation was only in the newly opened media, but when I studied, it turned out that the media, which have been operating for decades and are known to everyone, are also very sloppy in that issue. There is absolutely no difficulty in showing when they began their operations, where they are located or by giving contacts, etc. The biggest revelation for me was that I calculated 60 online platforms. Of course, there were websites that, by my criteria, I would hardly consider the media, despite the fact that they consider themselves so,” she said.
According to Laura Baghdasaryan, there is a need to regulate online platforms․ The requirement set by law was adopted in 2003, but not everyone fulfills it. “Transparency is taking responsibility for one’s own content in front of one’s own audience as well.”
The study established three simultaneous principles for differentiating online media from other platforms, the existence of a main website in addition to social media pages, the existence of daily socio-political news on main sites, the availability of exclusive (author/editorial materials).
It turned out that all mass media operate as platforms providing republican information coverage, none of them are of local origin.
According to the current Law on Mass Media, the publication of broadcast data is a mandatory requirement for all types of media.
Laura Baghdasaryan found out that only 9 out of 60 media outlets (15%) come with fully filled “identification media certificates”, presenting to the audience the year of their activity, the names of the editor/editorial staff, the founding body, contact information for the editorial office: phone number, address, contact information. These are Aravot.am, Armtimes.com, Golosarmenii.am, Hetq.am, Iravunk.com, Mediamax.am, NV.am (Новое время), Paradiplomacy.am, and Tert.am.
60 to 48 media outlets are published with a partial release of data, presenting at least 1 mandatory piece of information from the whole package.
Freenews.am, 365news.am, Medialab.am platforms do not mention any release data at all. Although 365news.am has a window on the website to write a letter to the editorial office, and Medialab.am has an “About Us” section, which is not filled with any information. Medialab.am is not the only one whose “About Us” section is empty.
The most common piece of information found on the platforms, the e-mail address, is mentioned in 88% of the media, any kind of phone number to contact the editorial office is mentioned in 87%.
The third most common piece of information is the date beginning operations. This data is mentioned by 70% on their platforms.
The physical address of the editorial office is not mentioned by 42% of the media.
70% do not mention the names of the person responsible for their product – the editor, the editorial staff, and 63% do not mention the name of their founding body or person.
Most media outlets do not forget to write about their copyright protection rules. In the case of a number of media outlets, they take on the form of a detailed guide.
“From conversations with various media leaders, I found out that a number of media outlets have developed rules of ethics, but prefer to keep them in the corporate, domestic kitchen area. However, there are also 3 media outlets (Hetq.am, Aravot.am, Lragir.am) that have published their codes of ethics, and in this sense operate with open playing cards in front of the audience,” the study says.