15 Nov 2010
‘We Are Lucky to Have Only One Conflict and Only Two Borders Closed’
We often talk about propaganda and government control of media in Armenia. Now I wonder whether the more correct label would be incompetence?
A few days ago I gave a lecture at Eurasia International University in Yerevan. My speech was in Armenian. The Armenpress correspondent was sitting in the front row with a recorder. The lecture was titled ‘Social Media and its Potential for Conflict Resolution: Nagorno-Karabakh Case.’ Imagine my surprise when the next day I saw a report published by Armenpress titled ‘Philip Gamaghelyan: Readiness of the armed forces of Armenia and NKR and the position of international community are restraining circumstances for Azerbaijan.’
The topic of my speech had nothing to do with Armenian or NKR armed forces, nor did I mention them at all during my lecture.
The more I read the “better” it got, and phrases and quotes that I never used followed one another.
Armenpress reported me saying, “There is a negative attitude between the population of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, which is conditioned by the anti-Armenian policy of Azerbaijan.” This was indeed one of the topics covered. Yet what I said instead was that there is a negative attitude between “Armenian and Azerbaijani societies conditioned by heavy propaganda in media and education on both sides.”
Progress: here we did not resort to untrue reporting as we had in the title. Incompetence: now we resorted to selective reporting that distorts the meaning.
Next: Armenpress quoted me saying, “Turkey has assumed a suchlike political line both toward Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, which coincides with the Azerbaijani policy.” To the contrary, I stressed a number of times that I believe Turkey pursues its own interests and its policy DOES NOT coincide with that of Azerbaijan.
So in one short report Armenpress managed to have an entirely misleading title, selective reporting that distorts the meaning and a quote that is in direct opposition to what I said. Most importantly in the entire “report” there was nothing close to what actually happened.
I will conclude with paraphrasing a friend of mine who after learning the story said that yes, this is how our media communicates, and, therefore, we are lucky to have only one conflict and only two borders closed.