N 03 (111) March/2018
In October 2016 The RA Minister of Defense officially declared of the Nation – Army Concept as the new formula for the military and political security of the country. Two months later the National Assembly in its previous convocation passed the “law on 1000 drams” 1 proposed within the framework of the concept, according to which 1000 drams started to be deducted from the monthly salaries of the citizens to be channeled to the foundation that provides social assistance to the military servicemen injured during the military services and the families of killed military servicemen. This introduced mandatory volunteerism was the first practical correlation of the Armenian public with the official Nation-Army and was not perceived unequivocally positively. There were critics from among citizens who participated in various civic actions for the sake of the military even before the initiative. …>>>
Which media outlets did we monitor?
We observed 5 popular online media outlets, namely 1in.am, News.am, Aravot.am, 168.am, Tert.am.
Besides, we monitored 23 TV programmes of various genres, namely news programs (“Agenda”, “360°”, “News Hour”, “Post Factum”, “Epicenter”, “Sunday Epicenter”, “The Country Today”, “Saturday Evening”, “Horizon”, “Sunday Horizon”), interviews (“Off the Agenda”, “Agenda: Interview”, “R-Evolution”, “Outline”, “Country’s Issue”, and “Perspective”), talk-shows/ TV oratory pieces (“First Pavillion”, “Formula Club”, “Armenian Firday”, “Transition with Dulyan” and “Out Loud”), and TV documentary (“Life on the Border” and “At the Posts”) by 5 TV companies of republican and satellite coverage (Public TV, Armenia TV, Kentron TV, Yerkir Media TV, and Shant TV). We monitored the Nation – Army series satellite broadcast by Public TV (Channel One). …>>>
All online media outlets, however, covered the military mainly through materials fully devoted to the army. The number of materials only partially referring to the army (as a component of the general picture and situation) was significantly smaller.
The mass of materials on the army was shared with the audiences at varied intensity. At the states of active political and civil processes (the official adoption of the Nation – Army concept by the National Assembly, the speeches and debates on media platforms on this occasion, the students’ actions against the change/limitation of the right to deferral and other processes deriving from it) up to 36 materials were published in online media daily. …>>>
The rather intensive discussions in October – November 2017 shook the taboo on discussing army issues also at official level. The media platforms started to voice issues related to the army that were typical only of the Armenian social network domains before: corruption loopholes in the army and during draft, issues of supplies for the military servicemen and provision with necessary items, dislocation in more or less dangerous segments of the army, the social security for the people who participated in the wars in Karabakh, the diversified attitute to soldiers and especially to high-ranking officers, civilian oversight of the army and so on.
The media had never covered the Armenian army and its issues with such intensity before, by the way with the reactions and participation of the representatives of other ranks from the country’s military department.
The number of issues on the topic of Nation – Army was 62% of all isuues on the army in online media outlets, and 65% on TV.
See the graphs below:
The signs indicating attitude towards the issues of Nation-Army in online media and TV programs testify that the concept was not covered from absolutely positive or absolutely negative perspectives at information provision level.
The representatives of the RA armed forces and state figures were significantly ahead of all the others who expressed opinions expressed by the positive sign in online media outlets and on TV. On TV their indicators would collectively add up to 1/3 of all “speaking heads” (32%). Examples may be brought from the news pieces on the day of the official adoption of the Nation-Army concept, as well as the series of interviews given to the media. In this regard the exclusive interview of the RA President Serzh Sargsyan to Armenia TV where he also referred to the issues of Nation-Army (“Formula”, December 15, 2017), and the exclusive interviews of the Minister of Defense V. Sargsyan on these very topics on Armenia TV (“R-Evolution”, October 29, 2017) and Shant TV (“Outlook”, December 23, 2017) are to be mentioned particularly. …>>>
There are a few points among issues related to the army, but at first sight not the process of the adoption of the Nation-Army concept that, from propaganda perspective, served the purpose of instilling the central provisions of the concept, namely: “The army is that of ordinary citizens” and “There is a connection between the army and the people, dictated by the imperative for security”. This line is vividly expressed in, for example, each of the 12 pieces of “Life on the Border” program series. Every piece was devoted to one settlement, and three kinds of characters had a possibility to present their routine life in it: ordinary citizens, the soldiers and officers of armed forces units located in that area, and the clergy serving in those military units. The boradcasts of the “At the Posts” program series in our monitoring period also indicate the extent to which the furnishing and the infrastructure have improved along the contact line. On the one hand, this is a program series that draws the features of military servicemen exclusively, on the other, it is first-hand feedback on the objections to the Nation-Army voiced by the military from sites. For example, against the background of heated debates on the right to deferral the “At the Posts” program series asked soldiers questions on whether the military service would really hinder them to continue their education in the future. Or against the background of debates on the provision/non-provision of deferral to the students at the religious seminary, religious freedoms and rights in the army, “At the Posts” asked the military the same question on whether it was mandatory for the military who were followers of congregations other than the Apostolic Church to participate in the prayers and so on. …>>>
The debates that were reflected on media platforms mostly focused on the issues of education, the right to deferral, social justice, corruption loopholes, the healthcare system, security and considerably less on issues of democratic freedoms. The justicifcations proposed were often inversely proportional after the following scheme: “I accept/I do not accept, it will have an adverse impact/it will not have an adverse impact, it will contribute/it will not contribute”.
The examples below are from among those sets of answers.
With only a few exceptions, the intensity of feedback and indicators of views of materials on army topics in online media were within typical range, regardless of the fact that the topic of the army was among the topics that have deserved stable attention especially in the recent years.
For example, about half of all materials on the topic of the army in 1in.am was viewed from 1000 to 5000 and more times, half of suchlike materials in Aravot.am were viewed from 100 to 500 times, the vast majority of materials in 168.am – 88% – remained within the range of 1 – 500. …>>>