Within the framework of the Project supported by the Government of the Netherlands, the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression from September 1 to December 31, 2019 conducted monitoring of a number of Armenian and Russian media aimed at identifying publications discrediting the European values through various propaganda methods. This is the first stage of the study, the second will cover the period from January 1 to April 30, 2020, after which a comparative analysis of the data will be carried out. Before starting the work, a pilot monitoring was also conducted, it was experimental in nature and provided for the improvement of the methodology and the development of the monitoring group skills.
The monitoring covered 13 media – 5 TV companies (including one Russian TV channel – “RTR-Planeta”, which through terrestrial broadcasting covers the whole territory of Armenia), 3 national newspapers and 5 online portals (one of them is Russian “Sputnik-Armenia”, which creates content in Armenian). The Armenian media were selected in a way that, where possible, media affiliated with various political forces be represented. Hence, in case of newspapers, the monitoring included pro-government “Haykakan Zhamanak” and two openly opposition ones – “Iravunk” and “Hraparak”. As for the TV companies, in addition to the Public Television of Armenia and the Russian “RTR-Planeta”, the programmes (main news programmes, as well as subsequent current affairs programmes) of three more broadcast media are studied – “5th Channel”, “Yerkir Media”, “Kentron”, the first of which is affiliated with the RA second President Robert Kocharyan, and the other two with ARF “Dashnaktsutyun” and Prosperous Armenia parties respectively. By the same principle, taking into account different political orientations, the monitoring included the following online media: “Tert.am”, “1in.am”, “24news.am”, “News.am”, “Sputnik-Armenia”.
Since there are multiple methods of propaganda, within the frames of the monitoring they are divided into the following conditional categories (they can be manifested both separately and in combination):
1) various forms of manipulation (juggling and/or distortion of facts, biased commenting, references to a non-existent source of information, etc.);
2) use of hate speech on different thematic categories: national, political, social, religious, racial, etc.;
3) use of negative stereotypes and clichés.
Throughout the monitoring the categories are measured in units. At the same time, the monitors record: a) total amount of studied pieces; b) materials touching upon the European theme and the European values marked out from the total amount of pieces; c) materials of propaganda nature aimed at discrediting the European values marked out from the group of pieces on the European theme. The content of the last group of publications is analyzed in more detail: what is said, who says it, what the attitude to what is said is – neutral (0), positive (+), negative (-).
The views expressed in the publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Dutch government.