Assignment: Write a 500-word blogpost about the control over coverage of conflict inside your country.
Azerbaijan defies the norm and enters a journalistic “competition” with Armenia in regards to coverage of the Nagarno-Karabakh conflict.
For international new sources, it seems that most of the journalists and photographers that report on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are based in Moscow and mainly focus on the Ukraine conflict unless tensions in the Caucuses flare. A recent article for the New York Times, written by journalist David Herszenhorn with photographs by Sergey Ponomarev, details the most recent skirmishes between Azerbaijan and Armenia with stunning visuals and various quotes from individuals on all sides of the conflict. In the article Herszenhorn writes:
“With tensions mounting, visits to each side of the front line, and interviews with senior government and military officials, as well as conversations with dozens of residents, refugees, war veterans, soldiers, local officials, academics, civic activists and even schoolchildren, found the two sides bracing for war, and neither expecting nor prepared for peace.”
Followed by statements from people living in both Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Stepanakert (the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh), it seems that not much control is exerted over journalists or photojournalists coming from out of the country in regards to access to or coverage of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.
I would hazard a guess that the seemingly lack of control of coverage stems from the fact that instead of trying to hide Azerbaijan’s involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh issues, the Azeri government wants to promote their “side of the story”. In fact, take a look at the following screenshot of the results of a simple google search about the violation of ceasefire:
When you take a look at the news sources that correspond to each title, a pattern emerges: When it’s an Azeri news source, the story paints the Armenians as the villains, and vice-versa. This is a logical consequence of the tensions between the two countries, and it means that perhaps to get a clear sense of what is happening, international news sources rather than local new sources might be the better way to go.
Despite this, it is clear that Azerbaijan is in no way prohibiting coverage of the conflict in order to promote their side of the “story” and paint the Armenians in a negative light. Click on the link provided to see what local Azeri news sources call a video of the violation of ceasefire. The picture they start out with seems to prepare viewers for a hard-hitting dramatic story, but quickly derails to repetitive shots of the alleged sites where the ceasefire was broken with a monotonous drone of the names of pictured locations. Rather than prohibiting news, journalists seem to be able to publish stories that can hardly be considered news at all.