In the meanwhile, the incumbent authorities in
On January 23, at the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of January 22-26 in Strasbourg, the Resolution 1532 (2007) on Armenia's honoring of obligations and commitments to CE was adopted, in which PACE stated (“The Assembly expects Armenia to demonstrate its capacity to hold the parliamentary elections in 2007 and the presidential elections in 2008 in accordance with international standards, not least with regard to pluralist, impartial media coverage of the election campaign,”) the importance of holding free and fair parliamentary elections in 2007, presidential elections in 2008, and stressed the importance of ensuring pluralist, impartial media coverage of the election campaign. Further on clause 6.2 of the Resolution notes that “a few months away from forthcoming parliamentary elections, the Assembly attaches special importance to pluralism of the electronic media”, since “equitable access by all political parties” to them is “an absolute prerequisite for the holding of free and fair elections”. On the same note Anthony Godfrey, U.S. Charge d'Affaires in Armenia who "warned today[on January 23rd] in Yerevan that his government would revise the decision to allocate a hefty $236 million in extra aid to Armenia if its authorities fail to hold free and just parliamentary elections, slated for May".
A number of widely recognized organizations have recently posted reports on the state of freedom and democracy in Armenia, in which the country repeatedly ranks among partly free, oppressive towards journalists, etc. (See reports by: Freedom House; Reporters without Borders; Global Integrity).The following conclusion of the Freedom House is especially worth mentioning: “Systematic efforts to control media in countries of the former Soviet Union have intensified in 2006 indicating further erosion of civil liberties.”
In the light of all of the above, it is especially important to observe the development of a new type of media: Blogging in
It is important to note, that according to the report made on December 19, 2006 by International Telecommunication Union the total number of internet users in
One of the important characteristics of the online media is also its “on-demand” nature, which means, that when there are important events happening the use of online media increases dramatically. To make justice to the traditional media we have to note, that the last feature is obvious for them as well, but for the bloggers the growth is incremental. The example of Armenian writer, journalist Hrant Dink’s murder should be considered here. On the day of Dink’s murder and the days immediately following it the usage of blogs and online newspapers in
The following figures are a comparison of blogs vs. traditional media websites in the Armenian internet. The most popular English Language Armenian blog: Oneworld Multimedia for example gets 500 page-views per day at times; while most other English language blogs don’t get more then 50-80 page views per day. This does not include the pages/articles viewed using RSS/Atom XML feeds, which seriously decreases the actual number of page views of the blogs. The situation is rather different in the Russian language Armenian blogs, because they are based on LiveJournal, which enables the users to view other people's blogs inline at their own blog, using the Friends feature, so tracking actual page views is even more problematic.
Although the following comparison is not really compatible, because the concepts of pageviews and visitors are vastly different, the following figures could be looked at: Armenian Rating System Circle.am the most popular Armenian online media: A1plus gets 1700 visits per day on average; ArmeniaNow gets 600 visits on averageand Panorama.am barely passes the 400 ma on average.
Having said all of the above, I seem to have more questions, then answers. So here are some questions for discussion (although my page doesn't really have visitors, so expecting a discussion would be silly, wouldn't it?):
1. What do the bloggers see as their function in the Armenian media landscape? (Perhaps they see no function at all?)
2. What are the potentials for blogging to become an alternative channel for communication and public dialogue? (At this point looks like there are none!)
3. What are obstacles for the development of blogging? (expensive and low quality internet? No money via the Google Adwords?)
4. Why am I asking all this stupid questions? J (‘cause I’m looking for solutions, you see!)