Armenian blogs during the 2008 Presidential Elections

At a seminar organized by the Yerevan Press Club with the support of the Friedrich Ebbert Foundation, dealing with the activities of the Armenian media during the 2008 presidential elections I made a short – 25 minute presentation (download the Power Point Presentation) on the situation in the Armenian blogosphere. While I have been working on promoting blogging among Armenian journalists for around a year now, the vast amount of interest demonstrated by the journalists towards the issue pleasantly surprised me. The question and answer session that followed lasted around an hour, and journalists kept asking questions all that evening. Several of them expressed readiness to write articles on the issue, and Azg has already published a story, which, although contains several factual mistakes and draws several strange conclusions, still is quite a good promotion for blogging in Armenia.

About these ads

19 thoughts on “Armenian blogs during the 2008 Presidential Elections

  1. Here is a funny quote from that article:

    “Փաստորեն ահա մի անհեթեթ վիճակ, երբ պետությունում հայտարարված արտակարգ իրավիճակը չի ազդում ինտերնետային տեղեկատվության վրա. կարելի էր, իհարկե, բլոգ փակել, բայց մեկը եթե ջնջվեր, տեղը 10 ստեղծվում էր:

    Ահա մի հիանալի օրինակ, երբ պետք է ոչ թե արգելել, այլ նույն ծավալով եւ եռանդով հակակշռել ապատեղեկատվությունը, ինչը, բլոգների մակարդակով, փաստորեն չի արվել:”

    Amazing that a newspaper is for censorship and involvement of the government in press.

  2. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Armenia: Election Blogging

  3. The issue of blogs spreading misinformation was very significant during the election and especially the post-election period. Then again, the newspapers weren’t much better. Most opposition blogs read like Haykakan Zhamanak and the comments sections were a disgrace and enough to discredit the whole concept of blogging.

    Unfortunately, hopes that blogs could be better than the local trashy media was dashed by the level of misinformation, propaganda and hatred — especially from Ter-Petrossian’s side. There is the urgent need for a voluntary system or code of ethics and those operating blogs must understand that they can’t allow comments designed to intimidate, threaten or lead to conflict.

    That was the most depressing part of the whole period. As you said in one of your GV posts, new readers must have thought they had just entered a lunatic asylum and mostly they’d be right. Really, alternative information is one thing, but what we got was largely disgraceful with just a few exceptions to illustrate what blogs could be.

  4. It was exactly this hatred (exemplified by Pashinyan’s unique brand of character-assassination and yellow journalism) that turned me off once and for all to Levon and the (un)popular movement. True colors are hard to hide and I am glad that in the end, not that many people rallied behind the neo-Bolshevik former president. Armenia has lots of problems, but this was a case where the medicine was worse than the disease.

    On the other hand, there is hope that blogging can do something to improve the journalistic level in Armenia. While the readership is modest in numbers, Ditord’s reporting from the press conference demonstrates that there is professional interest from the community in Armenia which is a good sign.

  5. Talking about the role of blogs in the Armenian elections is kind of like discussing Aram Harutunyan’s impact on the race. Sure, he prevented Levon from getting few crucial recounts here and there, but overall it was largely negligent, which brings us to the age-old question about the tree, the forest, and no one being there to hear it fall.

    And sadly, I don’t think blogging will do anything to improve the quality of journalism in Armenia. Just like anything else there, it’s tied too closely with the political reality on the ground, and yes, H1 sets the tone like A1+ used to back in the day. Unless and until H1 becomes an independent and objective source of information and forces everyone to follow suit to keep up, we are going to see the kind of yellow journalism(HZh,ChI,etc.) prevalent today.

    “It was exactly this hatred (exemplified by Pashinyan’s unique brand of character-assassination and yellow journalism) that turned me off once and for all”
    I hear about this hatred a lot of and am simply mystified. What exactly did people expect the campaign to be about? The opposition’s undying love for RK and SS? And let’s not kid ourselves; this so called “hatred” was there long before LTP or Pashinyan got there and they took advantage of it just like any good opposition in any country would.
    I do have to admit, Pashinyan has the potential to turn me off from the LTP “movement”; heck, LTP is enough to turn me off of it ;-)…Except that there were enough people whom I consider to be upstanding individuals that threw their weight behind it (Aram Z. Sargsyan, Demirchyan, Surenyanc, A. Zurabyan, Michael Hayrapetyan, Sasun Mikaelyan, Hakob Hakobyan, Myasnik Malxasyan, Smbat Ayvazyan, David Shahnazarian, Raffi Hovhannisyan, Armen Martirosyan, A Petros Makeyan, etc. etc. etc. ) that they negated the Pashinyan effect for me.

  6. Everyone has their heroes. Very few in the above list inspire me, but to each his/her own.

    I think it is not necessary to sow hatred just because you do not profess “undying love for RK and SS.” LTP’s anti-democratic campaign did as much as anything to contribute to moving the democratic movement back instead of forward. No need to be mystified. I think there were (are) many policy issues that could (should) be argued, and there was no need to stoop to racist invective, calls for “whoever isn’t with me is a traitor” and this kind of low-class politicking. An intelligent appeal to the people would have generated as much momentum, would be more lasting, and wouldn’t just be a feel-good scream in the forest, without causing any substantive change (which I would argue much of the good intentioned arguments from the opposition has become).

  7. Finally watched your presentation. Nice one. Except some arguable points-presentation nicely described Armenia blogging tendencies.
    Thanks for the work done.

  8. Tigran jan – that was one of the “strange conclusions” that the Azg journalist has made :) That is exactly why I’ve posted a link to my presentation, so you can see the difference between what I said, and what the journalist wrote :))))

    In fact, I told during the seminar, that in all polls conducted among bloggers of livejournal, the Vazgen Manukyan and Vahan Hovhannisyan supporters prevailed.

  9. Talking about the role of blogs in the Armenian elections is kind of like discussing Aram Harutunyan’s impact on the race. Sure, he prevented Levon from getting few crucial recounts here and there, but overall it was largely negligent, which brings us to the age-old question about the tree, the forest, and no one being there to hear it fall.

    Well, that’s true, but that’s also the situation with the media. Unfortunately.

    What exactly did people expect the campaign to be about? The opposition’s undying love for RK and SS? And let’s not kid ourselves; this so called “hatred” was there long before LTP or Pashinyan got there and they took advantage of it just like any good opposition in any country would.

    When I was referring to hatred I didn’t mean the mutual Kocharian-Ter-Petrossian dislike of each other. I meant how anyone — normal citizens or journalists alike — didn’t take one side or the other they were intimidated, harassed or accused of treason.

    It wasn’t even between the two rival camps. Indeed, what seemed to irritate and perhaps even concern Levon’s people even more was neutrality or just plain dislike of either. As a result, they adopted a “if you’re not with us you’re against us” and took that as far as attempting to harass and discredit anyone who wouldn’t disseminate propaganda for them.

    Ironically, however, I never picked that up from either Pashinian when I ran into him (he was always polite, civil and jovial). In the comments sections of blogs, however, it was another matter although ironically enough, often from either Levon supporters abroad or expat workers married to locals supporting Levon here.

    Maybe it was just frustration and the only way they could be part of the “battle,” but it sure as hell didn’t resemble anything remotely progressive or democratic. Some exceptions such as Unzipped who did set a precedent for partisan but reasoned and ethical blogging during the whole process.

  10. I must note, that there has been a factual mistake in my presentation – on the section dealing with Uzogh’s post collecting memories of the 90s – I seem to have gone too subjective and misinterpreted facts. The mistake will be corrected tomorrow and the updated presentation will be uploaded back to the server.

    My apologies to everyone.

  11. “Everyone has their heroes. Very few in the above list inspire me, but to each his/her own.”
    I didn’t say “heroes”, but I guess everything is relative: any “upstanding individual” in today’s political sphere could effectively be called a hero. To me, from that list, Smbat Ayvazyan is enough, but as you said, to each his own. (Perhaps accordingly, he’s been held illegally in pre-trial detention for over 3 months now).

    “I think there were (are) many policy issues that could (should) be argued, and there was no need to stoop to racist invective, calls for “whoever isn’t with me is a traitor” and this kind of low-class politicking.”
    The authorities have long had a “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” policy, and anyone who disagrees with them is beaten, jailed, fired, subjected to terror by tax authorities, etc. This stance was apparent long before the elections. As far as LTP’s official proclamation of this goes, he largely meant the political forces who didn’t stand with him, and perhaps with the exception of Arman Melikyan, he was proven right. It’s easy to pick and choose a phrase here and there and reduce his whole campaign to a series of sound bites, but if you actually have the patience to read some of his speeches (an excellent English version of all of them is also available), he did appeal to the masses in the way you described. (I’m not even going to touch racism; you can’t be calling for serious debate and calling LTP racist in the same breath).

    And I’ll be honest, ever since RK declared the era of reading over, I never thought I’d see the day when a major presidential candidate would stand in downtown Yerevan, give long, meticulous speeches and quote lengthy passages from Charents, and 10,000+ people, many of them young, would actually listen to him. Many people say that they went to his rallies precisely because they’d missed intelligent, coherent presentation of thoughts long missing in Armenian public life. On the other hand, no matter the quality of the opposition or lack of it, it currently has no vehicles to “cause substantive change.”

  12. I’m downloading the PP while I write this. I am looking forward to going through it. I am very happy to see that there was so much interest among the journalists attending your presentation.

  13. I just read through the presentation. Very interesting! I never realized there were that many blogs in Armenia. thanks for making it available.

  14. Pingback: “Economist” misinformed readers.March 2008 and armenian blogs. « Realarmenia’s Weblog

Comments are closed.