Guide to Armenia Websites

 Jirair Tutunjian, Toronto, January 2016

It’s a truism that most Diaspora Armenian media and websites have a perspective reflecting that of their owners—in majority of cases the three traditional political parties. What about the Armenia websites?

Do Diaspora readers, who read Armenia websites, know who owns what, and what’s the agenda of the outlets they follow? For example, if they read an anti- or pro-Russia analysis, do Diaspora readers know whether the website is owned by a Russophile or a Russophobe or a pro-government or an anti-government outlet? In a country which doesn’t have a tradition of free press and journalism is ham-strung by inexperienced practitioners and publishers who can be vulnerable to pressure, it’s imperative that the readers know the accuracy of website reports and the objectivity of its analysis.

 Jirair Tutunjian, Toronto, January 2016

It’s a truism that most Diaspora Armenian media and websites have a perspective reflecting that of their owners—in majority of cases the three traditional political parties. What about the Armenia websites?

Do Diaspora readers, who read Armenia websites, know who owns what, and what’s the agenda of the outlets they follow? For example, if they read an anti- or pro-Russia analysis, do Diaspora readers know whether the website is owned by a Russophile or a Russophobe or a pro-government or an anti-government outlet? In a country which doesn’t have a tradition of free press and journalism is ham-strung by inexperienced practitioners and publishers who can be vulnerable to pressure, it’s imperative that the readers know the accuracy of website reports and the objectivity of its analysis.

Although six Yerevan universities offer journalism courses, Armenia websites seem far adept at digital graphics and razzmatazz than in gathering and disseminating facts. In other words, “packaging” is given too much emphasis. Censorship is officially prohibited, but self-censorship is a fact of life because journalists know what can be allowed to be published. Self-censorship is particularly common in the coverage of corruption, security, and Artsakh. While a number of websites claim to be independent, the assertion has to be taken with a grain of salt. Many of the so-called independents have “patrons”, “partners”, “friends”…who support the outlet financially.

Here’s Keghart.com’s brief guide to some of the leading Armenia websites:

1. Azatutuyun.am
Based in Prague, it is part of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Armenian Service–a U.S government outlet.

2. Azg.am
After briefly changing hands, it is back in the Ramgavar Party media group. It’s run by long-time editor Hagop Avedikian who was once editor of “Zartonk” in Beirut. In the early days of the RoA the newspaper served as a “school” for many budding journalists. The website is a copy of the newspaper.

3. Yerkirmedia.am
The website is owned by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). Like “Azg” the website is a duplicate of the newspaper.

4. Aravot.am
Editor-in-chief Aram Abrahamian has a big staff with impressive CV. It is an independent site. The fact that Abrahamian once worked in the administration of the RoA president doesn’t seem to influence the site’s coverage.

5. Armtimes.com
Part of Haikagan Jamanag, it belongs to Nikol Pashinyan. After he became MP, he transferred the management to his wife. The website is anti the ruling Republican Party.

6. Civilnet.am
Owned by the Civilitas Foundation, it’s run by Vardan Oskanyan, former foreign minister of Armenia and one of the founders of the now defunct “AIM” magazine of California. For years one of the main financial supporters of the organization was the Huntsman Corporation of the US. Its home page lists patrons (euphemism for financial supporters), including the governments of Germany, Switzerland, the US, Poland, the Netherlands, the UK, and Norway. It also includes the German Marshall Fund Eurasia Partners Foundation, Ernst & Young, the Rosgosstrack insurance firm in Russia and Armenian-Argentine businessman Eduardo Eurnekian, Krikor and Christine Jabourian, Armen and Nadya Ekserciyan, Haypost, and the Armenian Church Prelacy of Tehran. For a long time there have been rumours that it also receives financial aid from USAID.

7. Armenpress or Armenian-news.com
It is state owned.

8. ArmeniaNow
It’s an independent site run by veteran journalist John Hughes who was a senior writer at “AIM” magazine.

9. 7or.am
Managed by Andranik Tevanyan, it acts as a propaganda arm of former president Robert Kocharian and oligarch Gagik Dzaroukian. Another outlet which beats the drums for Kocharian is 2nd.am

10. Lragir.am
For a long time it has been assumed that George Soros/other Western interests help fund the site.

11. epress.am and A1
It’s an NGO closely associated with the Independent Journalists’ Network (IJN). According to reports, the IJN is linked to the European Journalism Centre which is funded through the Matra Social Transformation Programme, a development arm of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

12. Panorama.am
Belongs to PanArmenian Network NGO. Armen Azaryan is the CEO and co-founder. It carries little local news and analysis. Its focus is the Diaspora. Close to 30% of its followers reside in the US, 22% in the Russian Federation, 5.5% in Armenia. It declaims that it has no interest in influencing internal politics.

13. PanArmenian.net
Founded in 2000, it’s the oldest online news agency in Armenia. The site is owned by NGO PanArmenian Media LLC. Its stated mission is the “establishment of a pan-Armenian common information field and adequate presentation of Armenia to the world.”

14. HetqA1+online
Specializes in investigative reporting. It is considered anti-Serge Sarkissian and is owned by Edig Baghdassarian.It receives financial aid from the George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and Forum. In 2004 it was recognized by Transparency International for its work against corruption. It’s one of the more professional and credible sites.

15. Hraparak.am
An independent outlet, it’s run by Armine Ohanyan. Founded in 2008, it claims to have 600,000 monthly visitors. Hraparak is no friend of Robert Kocharian, among other oligarchs.

16. News.am
It’s an independent outlet. While it has at least seven editors, Artak Yeghiazaryan (co-ordinator) seems to be the senior person. The “co-ordinator” title is meaningless in journalism. Is Yeghiazaryan the publisher, manager, the editor-in-chief, the owner?

17. Tert.am
Part of Armenia News and Armenia Today (public company). It claims to be the most popular website in Armenia in frequency of visits, citations and references. Its editor is Sasun Khachatryan.

Good News, Bad News
Freedom of Media Index (2015), published by Reporters Without Borders, placed Armenia 78th among 180 states. Turkey was 149 and Azerbaijan 162. Georgia was 69, the US 49. Israel was 101. On the negative ledger, the Yerevan Press Club is partially funded by USAID and globalizing champion Soros’ Open Society Foundations Armenia.
 

4 comments
  1. Media Outlets in Armenia

    Thank you, Jirair Tutunjian and Keghart, for another enlightening report and one we would not find elsewhere.

    I agree that style often predominates over substance when it comes to news sites coming out of Armenia. It pains me to say this, but many of the English language editors could use a tutorial in grammar and translation. The poorly written/edited articles compromise "our" legitimacy and global influence as news carriers.

    As for the outlets themselves, a few comments: ArmeniaNow (and writers John Hughes and Tony Halpin) have long been suspect….I would not call this outlet independent. It has an anti-Artsakh, pro-West, pro-NATO, pro-USSD, pro-reconciliation [with Turkey] bias. Furthermore, reader comments are censored. (But so are reader comments submitted to Diasporan outlets such as the Armenian Weekly, Armenian Mirror Spectator, and Asbarez, for that matter!)

    HETQ and Lragir were both more credible before they started getting Western funding. The worldview, tone and subjects chosen for coverage are quite different now and not necessarily for the better. Even so, they are still two of the more informative news sites from Hayastan.

  2. Agree with [Lezou]:

    Agree with [Lezou]: ArmeniaNow is anything but independent. All you have to do is read their editorials and articles regularly. It will become clear very quickly what their agenda is: anti-Armenian and anti-Armenia.

    And kudos to Mr. Jirair Tutunjian for assembling the list. Most casual readers of these outlets do not know what their agendas are.

    For example, if one is a casual reader, it would be hard to believe that a site like Lragir.am, i.e. with an authentic Armenian name and *.am domain,  could be an anti-Armenian propaganda and disinformation site funded by a Soros NGO.

    Regarding "…In a country which doesn’t have a tradition of free press and journalism": don't know about other countries, but US's tradition of free press went out the window decades  ago. Now the MSM is fully owned by mega-corporations and is no different than any dictatorship's  Ministry of Truth and Propaganda.

  3. Pro-US.EU.NATO bias in Hayastan media

    We know that the Armenian Assembly and AGBU had, 7-8 years ago, teamed up to fund ArmeniaNow, issuing a grant worth tens of thousands of dollars annually.

    We then saw several ArmeniaNow journalists writing for the AGBU Magazine, which went on for a few years and is no longer the case. AGBU's logo is still, however, found on ArmeniaNow's website.

    ArmeniaNow's pro-Armenian establishment and pro-US/EU/NATO biases continue to this day and prominently so. Its articles are pro-Western summaries of daily happenings with one to three day delays at best.

    On a similar note, virtually nothing critical of high-ranking Armenian government officials or of great investigative substance is now found on HETQ.am and Lragir.am.

    They too have been sadly "bought-off."

    Note that HETQ's Edik once worked for the government-run All-Armenia Fund in the 1990s, and he radically altered his oppositionist stance after being beaten up by a thug on a dark Yerevan street a good 6-7 years ago.

  4. Free media is a serious liability for Armenia

    In 1969, British historian and aesthetician Sir Kenneth Clark stated the following:

    “It is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilization. We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs”

    A Dutch paper in 2004 called “The Effects of Strategic News on Political Cynicism, Issue Evaluations, and Policy Support” stated the following:

    “A Two-Wave Experiment found that the way the news media presents the news can cause political cynicism.”

    And the following was said by author Stephen Kinzer during an NPR Radio Interview:

    “[The Dulles brothers] were able to succeed [at regime change] in Iran and Guatemala because those were democratic societies, they were open societies. They had free press; there were all kinds of independent organizations; there were professional groups; there were labor unions; there were student groups; there were religious organizations. When you have an open society, it’s very easy for covert operatives to penetrate that society and corrupt it.”

    They have the tools to set the political mood of a society. They have the tools to sow political unrest. They first destroy the spirit through an information war, after which they can easily destroy the body either through economic/financial blackmail or war. Softening your political opposition and making it susceptible to collapse is what propaganda and psy-ops is all about. For Western powers the notion of “free media” simply means, media that is controlled by Western interests. Therefore, keep this in mind next time you read news articles produced by Armenian news outlets based in the US or come across news reports put out by Armenia’s Western-financed political opposition. Most of the news reports and political commentaries put out by such sources are specifically designed to convey outrage against the Armenian state and sow hopelessness amongst Armenians. Information being put out about Armenia are therefore meant to breakdown the spirit and sow the seeds of sociopolitical unrest.

    Now you know why Western powers have been encouraging Armenian opposition officials, "independent" journalists and political activists to disseminate negative news about Armenia on a persistent basis. Their constant “the sky is falling" rhetoric is how they have wounded the Armenian spirit and why growing numbers of Armenians want out of Armenia. I reiterate: Much of the reason behind why Armenians have been demoralized in recent years and why there is political instability and a powerful sense of hopelessness in Armenia today is precisely due to the mass hysteria fomented by the Western-led forces in the country. Armenia is suffering from a persistent campaign of doom and gloom and every single growing pain in the country is getting co-opted and turned into a sociopolitical fiasco.

    Google the following reading material:

    US spy operation that manipulates social media

    US launches cyber spy operation

    Pentagon spent millions studying how to influence social media

    How British spies covertly shape the flow of information online to ‘discredit’ their targets

    Spy Agencies Manipulate and Disrupt Web Discussions to Promote Propaganda and Discredit Government Critics

    How foreign NGOs destroy Russia

    Do Certain NGOs Play the Role of a ‘Trojan Horse’ in Armenia?

    A Distorted Media Mirror

    Methods and goals of anti-Russian media in Armenia

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