Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable shift in how the general public consumes media content.
A number of factors have contributed to this, including the 2018 revolution, the 44-day war of 2020, regular border clashes, and the displacement of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh.
Before these major events, people had different information consumption behaviors, used various information selection methods, and had distinctive attitudes towards information broadcasters.
Mariam Khalatyan, a researcher at “Socioscope” NGO, explains that it is natural for public perceptions to change after major events.
She notes that the events mentioned above caused a division within the traditional media, leading people to become supporters of one group or another and consumers of the information provided by their chosen group; this resulted in alternative opinions being marginalized in the media field.
Khalatyan says that their research indicates that in today’s world, people do not lack information. With the abundance of information available, everyone selects the information that aligns with their interests and political affiliations and becomes a consumer of it within the limits of their media literacy.
The research conducted after the 2018 revolution highlighted a shift in people’s preferred sources of information. Specifically, they found that individuals were increasingly drawn to the Facebook pages of political figures to attain information rather than relying solely on traditional media outlets.
However, trust in the media decreased after the 2020 war, leading to a decrease in the trend mentioned above.
After the 44-day war, people’s trust in media started declining as the ‘We will win’ slogan, which was manipulated to silence dissenting opinions, turned out to be false. This led to a sense of betrayal and vulnerability among the public. The propaganda was spread through social media and online news outlets, which deepened the distrust towards them. Consequently, people started perceiving television as a more reliable and official news source, as it was more careful in its choice of words. Mariam Khalatyan explains that this shift in perception happened gradually over time.
According to Khalatyan, a noticeable trend of sharing information among people was observed after the 44-day war. People started relying more on their relatives, acquaintances, and other close contacts for information. During the war, people often called their relatives living in the border communities to receive updates and news.
Media criticism has increased due to growing media literacy among people. They are now more conscious of filtering and analyzing information, as well as comparing sources. According to Khalatyan’s research, some young individuals have even started following Azerbaijani sources to gain a different perspective.
Mariam Khalatyan believes that people are becoming more aware of the political interests that drive the media. They are curious about who owns websites and TV channels, and to gain a more complete understanding of a situation, they read various sources, including those that are not in Armenian. This helps them analyze and comprehend events better.
She notes that the media’s work is flawed as they do not provide a platform for diverse voices, forcing people to seek alternative opinions.
We recently analyzed media coverage of peace, war, and the future. We watched two interviews conducted by “Civilnet” with Arshaluys Mghdesyan and “Azatutyan” with Karlen Aslanyan. After our analysis, we concluded that these programs did not include diverse and marginal viewpoints. The representatives were from the government and the opposition; experts who frequently generated discourses from both political poles were invited to the interviews. According to the sociologist, the media produced identical narratives of the political field, presenting views from both the ruling and opposition wings, but failed to provide any alternative opinions.
Summing up, Mariam Khalatyan notes that people are guided by the following principles when choosing information:
- The political agenda behind the information-sharing platform
- Previous experience with the media
- The extent does the provided information correspond to their ideas and political views
Clinical psychologist Siranush Grigoryan agrees that people have unconsciously altered their behavior in regard to consuming information. She believes that several factors have contributed to this change in public behavior over recent years; however, it has gone unnoticed.
“The rise of social media has led to a change in people’s behavior. Social networks like Facebook have an overwhelming amount of information presented in a concentrated form and with emotional overtones. This leads people to fall prey to clickbait articles, which are written for the sole purpose of generating more views and revenue. Unfortunately, such articles often lack credibility and accuracy, and their emotional titles are the main reason they are popular. As a result, news media that prioritize sensationalism over fact-based journalism have created an audience with a vulnerable psyche. These individuals consume such information without realizing it is often misleading and unreliable. This is a significant problem, underscoring the importance of promoting ethical journalism practices. Of course, this is a big disaster,” says the psychologist.
She believes that consuming such information makes individuals vulnerable to fear, anxiety, panic, and mood swings due to a loss of touch with reality.
Following the war, numerous publications speculated that soon it would be Armenia’s turn to surrender Syunik. These emotional opinions were spread without any factual basis or justification. However, constantly circulating such thoughts could not have helped but affect people’s psychology and mood. When people are bombarded with such emotions, they eventually become disappointed and sometimes even angry, feeling incapable and searching for traitors and culprits. Unfortunately, many media outlets incite the spread of such views. S. Grigoryan explained this situation in detail.
Siranush Grigoryan notes that the reality of war presents a significant challenge for the public. It is a traumatic experience, and it takes time for people to recover from it.
According to her, consuming a large amount of information about war can lead to a behavior of rejecting information. People may not want to read or look at it, which could be a defensive reaction. To avoid this, the psychologist recommends conducting an informational detox occasionally and suggests not following the news.