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In summer 2008, CRRC teams in Armenia and Azerbaijan held focus groups in Armenia and Azerbaijan, respectively, and produced a report on public attitudes toward and trust in the media, especially, …

In summer 2008, CRRC teams in Armenia and Azerbaijan held focus groups in Armenia and Azerbaijan, respectively, and produced a report on public attitudes toward and trust in the media, especially, regarding Armenia-Azerbaijan relations. This is the presentation conducted in Yerevan, Armenia.

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  • 1. Unbiased Media Coverage of Armenia-Azerbaijan Relations Summary of findings of Focus Groups carried out by CRRC Dr. Hans Gutbrod, CRRC Regional Director October 28, 2008 Yerevan, Armenia www.crrccenters.org
  • 2. The larger context
    • Increase the amount of accurate and unbiased reporting of the bilateral relationship between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and to foster a cooperative network of editors, journalists and media NGOs from Armenia and Azerbaijan.
    • This project is generously funded by Foreign Commonwealth Office
  • 3. What is the research aiming to achieve within this project?
    • The aim of the research is to understand public opinion and trust in media especially regarding bilateral Armenia-Azerbaijan relations.
  • 4. Outline
    • Background
    • Quality of international news coverage in national media
    • Potential focus of international news coverage in national media
    • Perception of mass media in the neighboring counties: freedom of media in Azerbaijan/Armenia and Georgia
    • The role of mass media in reporting on NK and Azerbaijan/Armenia
    • Means of mass media: trust and popularity
    • Media bias
    • Shift in the quality of reporting and trust toward mass media over the period of time
    • Recommendations
  • 5. Popularity and trust in Media
    • There was a general lack of trust in national media among the participants. In both countries trust towards the state TV was very low.
    • Internet was considered the most trustworthy source of information.
  • 6.
  • 7. Popularity and Trust
  • 8. Quotes: Popularity and trust in Media: Armenia
    • “ I don’t trust TV concerning politics. And concerning other issues, I think, there is something objective.” (Female, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ I don’t trust TV, because they don’t correspond to the reality at all. There are cases when you witness something and they tell a totally different thing.” (Female, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ First channel is the channel of authorities, they show whatever is dictated. Whereas Shant tells a little truth.” (Male, 40+, Armenia)
  • 9. Quotes: Popularity and trust in Media: Armenia (Cont.)
    • “ I think pensioners listen more to the radio, young people rely more on TV and the internet, and women watch only TV.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ There is no specific orientation… in villages they watch H1, and drivers listen to the radio.” (Female, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ I don’t watch TV for news, just for cultural events.” (Female, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ I used to listen to the Voice of America, but not any more, I don’t trust it.” (Male, 40+, Armenia)
  • 10. Quotes: Popularity and trust in Media: Azerbaijan
    • “ I think people in the regions mostly watch TV and only one or two channels can be watched in the regions. However, people in Baku use internet and newspapers to get information.” (Female, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ Principally politically affiliated people watch ANS TV channel, but ITV is watched by people of different classes.” (Female, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ I do not believe totally, but as compared to state media, I trust more in independent media.” (Female, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ I think the newspapers are preferred among other Mass Media. They may be delivered late or may contain old information, anyway people read them.” (Female, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
  • 11.
  • 12. Media Bias
    • Focus group participants generally agreed that currently media in Armenia is controlled by the state and is biased.
    • In Azerbaijan they were dissatisfied as the broadcast media are either pro-government or pro-opposition and are biased.
  • 13. Media Bias
  • 14. Quotes: Media Bias: Armenia
    • “ All kinds of media are being controlled – be it state owned or private.” (Male, 40+, Armenia)
    • “ The whole world is partial. He who pays, orders the music. Mass media supports those who have money and power.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ Often times I have witnessed that when our TV stations are translating from Russian stations they are giving 180 degrees opposite information.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ The consequence of it [bias] is that nobody trusts them [media] today.” (Female, 18-40, Armenia)
  • 15. Quotes: Media Bias: Armenia (Cont.)
    • “ There are enough media, but the competition is not for gaining the trust of the community, but for gaining the trust of the top of the pyramid: whom to praise more to be better financed, to have more films and programs. They should work for their audience.” (Female, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ They [newspapers] lie and have no grounds. They print whatever is being ordered to print, whatever is useful for them.” (Female, 40+, Armenia)
    • “ We don’t mean that mass media should misbehave. I think they just need to lie in a more professional way, so that people have trust.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
  • 16. Quotes: Media Bias: Azerbaijan
    • “ Today media in Azerbaijan is divided into 2 parts: - pro-government and pro-opposition.” (Female, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ They are divided into 2 in Azerbaijan. Government or opposition leaning, objective ones nearly do not exist. They struggle in two fronts and earn money from publishing newspapers.” (Male, 18-40)
    • “ In our case except for some, majority of media is not independent. There are opposition and power media. Power media makes a lot of embellishments. Opposition media writes lies and insults.” (Male, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ It is a problem. They all report in different ways and you can get confused.” (Female, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ Media represents interests of certain groups but not national values.” (Male, 40+, Azerbaijan)
  • 17.
  • 18. International Coverage
  • 19. Quality of international news coverage in national media
    • There was general dissatisfaction with the international news in national broadcast media.
        • The participants complained international news stories are taken from foreign channels, with inadequate commentary, or no commentary at all.
    • In Armenia among the main reasons for dissatisfaction were:
        • Lack of resources that media outlets have
        • Self censorship of media outlets
        • Some participants complained about the low professionalism of Armenian journalists.
    • In Azerbaijan they generally complained about the content of the news.
        • Overwhelming amount of news on show business and irrelevant events.
    • In Azerbaijan they relied on outside sources for international news:
        • Turkish channels
        • International news networks, e.g. CNN, BBC
    • Internet was mentioned as a preferable source of information in both countries.
  • 20. Quotes: Quality of international news coverage: Armenia
    • “… Armenian mass media takes information from other channels. Often we can see the logo of other channels like ORT, or other. […] If there already exists lack of information or if something goes wrong we get totally misinformed.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ I think that commentaries are very subjective. They show whatever people don’t need.” (Female, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ I think while doing international coverage Armenian media unduly villanize Azerbaijani and Turkish news. You will never hear any good news from Turkey. That’s subjective.” (Female, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ I don’t mean that they [media] are doing it on purpose. Simply their professional level is very low.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
  • 21. Quotes: Quality of international news coverage: Azerbaijan
    • “ I think they do not cover international news sufficiently. I watch news on Turkish channels. They provide more analyzed, detailed and fresh news, whereas in our case, they show archive pictures accompanied with empty words.” (Male, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • There are barriers, limits in our country. Therefore, the news is copied from somewhere.” (Male, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ Unfortunately, TV channels have been airing too many show business programs recently. […] 10 percent of people watch these programs, whereas the remaining 90 percent do not watch them.” (Male, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ I basically use internet, because in Azerbaijan under the conditions of monopoly, [media] is just a waste of time. I try to learn from internet, foreign websites, be it in Azerbaijani, Russian, or English.” (Male, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
  • 22. Potential focus of international news coverage in national media
    • In Armenia, female participants mentioned countries a with large Armenian Diaspora.
    • In Azerbaijan, the participants generally seemed to be more interested in regional news and mentioned Turkey and the neighboring countries.
    • In Armenia, male participants noted that more emphasis should be put on Turkey and Azerbaijan in the international news coverage. Armenian public should be informed about the countries Armenia has conflict with.
    • In Azerbaijan, Armenia was mentioned by a few participants along with other bordering countries, without any specific emphasis on it.
  • 23. Potential Focus
  • 24. Quotes: Potential focus of international news coverage in national media: Armenia
    • “ News should cover countries where there is large Armenian Diaspora. Any Armenian, irrespective of the state he is in, should feel oneself a part of his/her homeland.” (Women 40+, Armenia)
    • “ I would like mass media to concentrate on Turkey and Azerbaijan – the two hostile countries. We can expect any hostility from them. They are accumulating their arsenal and doubling their military budget. The better you know your enemy the easier it is to beat him.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ I can’t mention the regions, but I can mention the countries to which they [media] should pay attention to – the USA and Russia, because without their permission Turkey and Azerbaijan can perform no military action.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
  • 25. Quotes: Potential focus of international news coverage in national media: Azerbaijan
    • “ I would like to get more information about the regional countries such as Iran, Russia, Turkey, because it is important both economically and politically. Generally, we should be informed about all countries, Azerbaijan is integrating to Europe, our students study abroad, so we should be well informed.” (Female, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • We do not need European news. I think more focus should be on neighboring countries.” (Male, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ In fact, Azerbaijani TV channels should focus their attention on the neighboring regions. Iran, Turkey, the Near East and Europe are interesting for us. Attention should be focused on the regions which are in the interests of our country and where Azerbaijanis are settled.” (Male, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ Of course, mostly brother countries which support us.” (Female, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
  • 26. NK
  • 27. The role of mass media in reporting on Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan
    • The importance of news coverage about the other country was recognized in both countries.
        • In Armenia they were interested in general information about Azerbaijan - one should know the enemy.
        • In Azerbaijan they were more interested in anti-Armenian propaganda, it should be media’s role to remind the public about the war more often to fuel animosity.
    • In both countries participants complained about the lack of information about Nagorno Karabakh.
        • In Azerbaijan the main concern among the participants was the younger generation may forget about Nagorno Karabakh and hatred toward Armenians.
        • In Armenia some complained there is a growing gap between people in Yerevan and Karabakh because of the lack of news. While others thought that not everything about Karabakh should be presented as it may be unfavorable for the state.
    • There was a predominant trust toward the official sources of information regarding reporting on Nagorno Karabakh.
  • 28. Quotes: Reporting on Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan: Armenia
    • “ If it is very important for Azerbaijan, it should be covered, so that we are aware about our neighbor, hostile country.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ Let it be open, but not everything must be told about Karabakh directly, e.g. the problem of migration, or if there is a similar problem it should not be raised. …because when it reaches the people it can reach our enemies.” (Female, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ I am sure in Azerbaijan they know excellently the situation in Karabakh and Armenia. We can conclude that the information stays secret only for our people. ” (Female, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “… We are unaware about what happens in Karabakh. There is some hostility between Karabakh people and Yerevan people, especially between the younger generations. This happens because mass media don’t tell what happens in Karabakh, about what Karabakh people think about people in Armenia, and the same is not happening in Karabakh about Armenian people.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
  • 29. Quotes: Reporting on Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia: Azerbaijan
    • “ I think they should not calm us down, but rather make us feel more hatred against the enemy.” (Female, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ […] …if it is about Karabakh, it needs to be further overstressed to create kind of hatred and should be reported broadly. But when it is evident news, it does not need to.” (Female, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ The responsibility or role of the national media is to report such news that young people become even more patriotic when reading them, and have a sense of vengeance and bellicosity.” (Male, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ Armenians are presented in the media very weakly, they are presented only internal enemies. But, Armenians even tell their children that Azerbaijanis are their enemies. They are very poorly illustrated as enemies.” (Female, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ For instance, “January 20” and “Khojaly” tragedies are portrayed in the same way every year. I think they should change the format. These tragedies should be represented in a different way to draw people’s attention.” (Female, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
  • 30. Quotes: Reporting on Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia: Azerbaijan (Cont.)
    • “ Media should foster patriotism among population and get them ready for the war. They should penetrate it into people’s minds that Karabakh is yours and there is no other way. Not even a small part of our territories should be left to the enemies.” (Male, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ Generally, the aggressiveness of the early 90s is abating. Both we and they are getting indifferent. They have their own social and economic problems and we have our own social problems already brought to the focus in media. But this problem still remains unsolved.” (Male, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ Media should report this news not only in Azerbaijani, but also in English so that the world may be aware of this problem.” (Male, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ Of course, state TV reports true news. It is possible that they will hide some of the news, but not all of it.” (Male, 40+, Azerbaijan)
  • 31.
  • 32.
  • 33. Shift in the quality of reporting and trust in media over the period of time
    • There was more trust in media after the independence of the country.
    • The trust in media has drastically gone down after the presidential elections of 2003 in Azerbaijan and 2008 in Armenia.
    • Only a few in Azerbaijan said that they have started to trust the media after 2003.
  • 34. Quotes: Shift in the quality of reporting and trust in media over the period of time: Armenia
    • “ I think the question is more obvious now, as there are many alternative means of information. The problem of impartiality is better now as we have alternatives. Previously it used to be only Public TV, but as far as we have alternative ways of getting information, it’s better now.” (Female, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ My trust was bigger before the last elections. Now I think there is more pressure from above.” (Female, 40+, Armenia)
    • “ In 1990-1991 we were just becoming free. But we used to be more free then than we are now. Because it’s anarchy everywhere now. In 1996-97 it became strict. There is no difference in the sense of trust.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ Maybe, before 1999 it was better. The whole family used to watch and we used to believe. And now we watch and we don’t believe.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ I think in 1998 it used to be better than now. It’s changing for the worse.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
  • 35. Quotes: Shift in the quality of reporting and trust in media over the period of time: Azerbaijan
    • “ Before I used to believe in something. But now I believe in nothing.” (Female, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ I think we should not talk in general, it depends on the media institution. There are some media institutions that their journalists are democratic, very operative. It leads to rapid positive changes.” (Female, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ Yes, there are changes in general. ANS is not the same as ANS some 10 years ago, it is worse now.” (Female, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ In the 80’s, I trusted more.” (Female, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ After 1992, I believed more.” (Female, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ I used to believe from 1989 to 2005. Then control was strengthened.” (Female, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ In the last 2-3 years there is information monopoly, media is too weak.” (Male, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ I think there are serious changes - in a negative direction.” (Male, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ Starting from 95-96-97 and things are worse year by year.” (Male, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ After 92-93 democracy in Azerbaijan was stopped, frozen and gradually people’s psychology started decaying and the society was gradually prepared for authoritarian regime.” (Male, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ 5 years ago I believed more to media and TV channels. It is gradually decreasing.” (Male, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ I believed to media from 90 to 93 June 4, after that I gave up believing it.” (Male, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ No. I mean the developments were radical in 1991 and the media got radical accordingly. Yet, afterwards, it became calmer and media turned calmer too.” (Male, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ We were raised with the soviet psychology and accordingly used to think that whatever newspapers reported was true. We used to trust more then. But of course, afterwards, we understood that we were wrong.” (Male, 40+, Azerbaijan)
    • “ I have come to believe more since 2003.” (Female, 18-40)
  • 36. Hope?
    • “ I’d like to say that we use the internet more because there are several sites where you can get objective information about Armenia.” (Male, 18-40)
    • “ I trust newspapers and the internet more, because different opinions are expressed there. You can read and analyze for yourself.” (Male, 18-40, Armenia)
    • “ Nobody can influence it [Internet].” (Male, 18-40, Azerbaijan)
    • “ Government can not interfere with it [Internet].” (18-40, Azerbaijan)
  • 37.
  • 38. Recommendations?
    • Note that challenges are asymmetric, not the same in each country!
    • These recommendations are tentative, and other good recommendations are possible and suggestions welcome.
  • 39. Generally: Generate discussion about journalism
    • What is the vocation of journalism that reaches beyond just ‘work’?
    • Who are journalists obligated to (for example when many people want inflammatory rhetoric)?
  • 40. Recommendations to local and International NGOs and journalists
    • Organize trainings for journalists aimed at creating media that
        • (Particularly television media) pay more attention to international news coverage - use multiple sources, check the facts and provide adequate analysis.
        • Restrains from inflammatory reporting.
        • Employ cheaper technological solutions to international news coverage.
  • 41. Recommendations to the donor community
    • Embrace Web2.0 and the Technological Revolution
        • Create cheap access to news through SMS technology or other mobile technology to people’s cell phones.
        • Work with mobile companies to lower the cost of online access to new websites via cell phones.
        • Provide fun and free trainings for those who have never accessed the internet, particularly in rural communities.
  • 42. Recommendations to the donor community (Cont.)
    • Train and promote a culture of ethical web journalists
        • Provide seed money to the best Armenian and Azerbaijani web news sources. An example of such a successful project is www.civil.ge in Georgia.
        • Ensure web journalists adhere to print media standards while publishing on the web. Eurasianet provides an English and Russian language example of such a publication.
        • Use videostreaming, blogging and hyperlinking to create interactive websites.
        • Ensure webjournalists publish an email address for an obudsman who will take feedback seriously.
  • 43. Recommendations to the research community
    • Promote a Research Based Culture for Media Supporters and Providers
        • Provide research to better target media development support.
        • Conduct similar focus groups to the ones conducted for this report in the regions.
        • Further investigate the influence of Turkish media in Azerbaijan and Russian in Armenia and Azerbaijan.
        • Research current popular Armenian and Azerbaijani news sites, their provenance and news coverage processes.
    • Train TV and other media outlets to conduct their own Market Research.
  • 44. Your Views?