Experts: Karabakh hostilities reveal Armenian media’s lack of war reporting experience

Photo: Photolur

During the hostilities at the Karabakh-Azerbaijani line of contact, according to Armenian experts, the local media mainly managed to work properly and carry out their mission.

Speaking on the subject on Tuesday, Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression (CPFE) head Ashot Melikyan noted that the Armenian society was able to get information about the military operations in the conflict zone and there was no important piece of information that was eventually overlooked by the Armenian media.

However, Melikyan stressed that it was noticeable that many media did not have much experience of working in war conditions.

“Media representatives were in a new and unusual situation. The hostilities of the 1990s and the conditions that existed back then were different from today’s. At that time there were no such technologies, there was no internet, there were some difficulties in terms of efficiency. One can say that on the one hand there are more opportunities today. On the other hand, there is increased responsibility. Very experienced journalists had questions whether to show pictures of mutilated bodies of soldiers or not,” he said.

According to the expert, there was a lack of evidence in the first days of hostilities, but the gap, however, was filled by correspondents who traveled to Nagorno-Karabakh the same day as military operations began.

“A day after a ceasefire agreement was reached, Azerbaijani media began to spread information that the villages of Talish and Mataghis were theirs. Our media sent their correspondents to the villages only several days later to show that they were under Armenian control,” said Melikyan.

Boris Navasardyan, the president of the Yerevan Press Club, believes that many of the media operating in Armenia’s media field are unprofessional.

“The TV channels focused on soap operas and entertainment programs could not normally ensure information during the days of the war. Even an elderly woman watching a sit-com would want a news break to learn the latest information about the situation on the frontlines,” said Navasardyan, noting a shortage of special news programs on Armenian television from the very first day of the outbreak of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to him, in such a situation, it is especially TV channels that should work efficiently as they have the largest audience in Armenia.

“Our Ministry of Defense has enabled journalists to work on the spot and present the situation. Therefore, no TV company encountered obstacles and had an opportunity to work efficiently and supply the public with news from day one,” Navasardyan noted.

According to the expert, the gap in information on TV channels was filled by online media. However, Navasardyan noted that in Armenia the number of people getting their primary information from online media is still not prevailing.