Diasporan Indy Journalists Critique Media Bias

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By Lucine Kasbarian

USA Armenian Life magazine

September 19, 2020


“The media are the most powerful entities on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent, and that’s power because they control the minds of the masses.”

– Malcolm X, American civil rights activist and minister


“Media bias in editorials and columns is one thing. Media fraud in reporting ‘facts’ in news stories is something else. …The issue is not what various journalists or news organizations’ editorial views are. The issue is the transformation of news reporting into ideological spin, along with self-serving taboos and outright fraud.”

– Thomas Sowell, American social theorist and syndicated columnist

As defined by Wikipedia, media bias is the prejudice or perceived prejudice of journalists and news producers within the mass media in the selection of events and stories that are reported and how they are covered.

American media analysts Dave D’Alessio (Communications Professor at the University of Connecticut) and Mike Allen (Researcher for MediaBiasFactCheck.com) have identified several categories of media bias.

Among the most common are: Coverage Bias, when people or issues are deliberately more (or less) visible in the news; Gatekeeping Bias, when stories and guests are calculatingly selected or deselected, sometimes on ideological grounds or preferred policy issues; and Statement Bias, when media coverage is slanted towards or against particular actors or issues. More forms of media bias appear at the end of this article.*

After Armenians worldwide witnessed the vicious, so-called interview with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan conducted by Stephen Sackur, host of HardTALK on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on August 14 of this year, a volunteer Armenian activist initiative called “Canada’s Move” Network decided to organize and showcase a video panel discussion on the subject of anti-Armenian media bias.

Says Canada’s Move interviewer Kevork Tanielian, “As we know, mass media is often used as a propaganda machine by nations and special interest groups alike. For decades a false narrative has been perpetuated in mainstream and social media about the Nagorno-Karabakh/ Artsakh conflict as well as on a variety of Armenian issues. In this video panel discussion, we will use the BBC interview as a starting point to discuss how media treat Armenian issues and the geopolitics relevant to Armenia and Artsakh.”

Interviewer Tanielian speaks with three independent journalists of the Armenian Diaspora: Mr. Jirair Tutunjian of Toronto, Mr. David Boyajian of Boston and Mr. David Davidian, currently living in Armenia. None of the above journalists are affiliated with any Armenian political organization.

This show will soon be available for viewing on the YouTube network channel of “Canada’s Move:” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQonchrUf4hdzS_Tzdrtmww/featured

· Jerusalem-born Jirair Tutunjian has been a journalist since 1968. During his tenure as editor for six Canadian consumer and trade magazines, he reported from more than 100 countries and won many international and local awards. Jirair has taught writing at the University of Toronto, is a non-fiction editor for EXILE literary magazine, and is also a consultant and regular contributor to Keghart.org. One of Jirair’s previous articles about media bias and anti-Armenian news coverage can be read here: https://keghart.org/the-first-casualty/

· David Boyajian’s grandparents came to America over 120 years ago from the Kharpert region of Western Armenia. For more than 20 years, his investigative reports, analyses and commentaries have appeared in media outlets worldwide. David is perhaps best known for initiating the successful activist campaign against the Anti-Defamation League in 2007 for its denial and diminishment of the Armenian Genocide and collusion with Turkey and Israel to defeat the Armenian Genocide resolutions in the U.S. Congress. Much of David’s work can be found on Armeniapedia.org. One of David’s talks on media bias and anti-Armenian news coverage can be observed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ylzs__ZkQQ

· David Davidian is a lecturer at the American University of Armenia, teaching technology and critical thinking. He was a Nuclear Reactor Engineer at a major US facility and holds three US patents. He has a long career in hi-tech and was an architect of IBM’s Federal System for the US Air Force. David has spent over a decade in technical intelligence analysis. He also is the founder and prime mover of RegionalKinetics.com, a research site containing proposals and tools concerning Armenia, the Southern Caucasus and the greater region, serving policy- and decision-makers. Since 2014 he has produced over 40 publications and has responded to almost 800 anti-Armenian articles appearing in non-Armenian media.

All three panelists are contributors to the blog project, “The Armenian Hall of Shame” (http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Hall_of_Shame ), a list which identifies media personnel, policy/advocacy persons and politicians who demonstrate a clear anti-Armenian bias.

During this two-part video discussion (Part 1: Artsakh History and Geopolitics; Part 2: Artsakh and Media), these news experts will provide historical and geopolitical background information about the conflict otherwise omitted from mainstream media, talk about media professionalism, journalistic standards, and the role that media have played in representing the Artsakh conflict. They will also diagnose some media ailments and discuss proven methods of direct action.

Trofimova.Works (https://trofimova.works/), a documentary and video editing firm producing this panel discussion, has waived the fee provided to them by Canada’s Move. Thus, the funds have been donated to 1000plus.am, the insurance fund for servicemen in Armenia. 1000plus.am was created to protect the social and financial well-being of Armenian soldiers injured while on active duty as well as that of families of soldiers killed in the line of duty.

“Canada’s Move” is a network of Canadian Armenians who uphold the sovereignty of Armenia and Artsakh, promote the expansion and strengthening of Armenia-Diaspora relations, advocate repatriation, rally around specific self-relying projects that empower Armenia youth and alleviate poverty. The group operates independent of any political party.

The guiding principles that characterize the modus operandi of the network include accountability, transparency, and integrity. To accomplish its goals, the group utilizes social media, the press and public gatherings. “Canada’s Move” is an inclusive network and welcomes Armenians of all backgrounds. To contact Canada’s Move, email: canadasmove@gmail.com

To donate to 1000 Plus — the insurance foundation for servicemen in Armenia, email: info@1000plus.am or visit 1000plus.am

To learn more about mainstream media bias all along the political spectrum, visit: https://mediabiasfactcheck.com https://www.allsides.com/media-bias/media-bias-chart

  • According to D’Alessio and Allen, other forms of media bias can include Advertising Bias, when stories are selected or slanted to please advertisers; Concision Bias, a tendency to report views that can be summarized succinctly at the expense of overgeneralizing or expelling more unconventional views that take time to explain; Corporate Bias, when stories are selected or slanted to please corporate owners of media; Partisan Bias, a tendency to report to serve particular political party leanings; Sensationalism, or bias in favor of the exceptional over the ordinary, giving the impression that rare events are more common than common events; Structural Bias, when an actor or issue receives more or less favorable coverage as a result of ideological decisions rather than newsworthiness; False Balance, when an issue is presented as even-sided, despite disproportionate amounts of evidence; Undue Weight, when a story is given much greater significance or portent than a neutral journalist or editor would give; Speculative Content, when stories focus not on what has occurred, but primarily on what might occur, using words like “could,” “might,” or “what if,” without labeling the article as analysis or opinion; False Timeliness, implying that an event is a new event, and thus deriving notability, without addressing past events of the same kind; and Ventriloquism, when experts or witnesses are quoted in a way that intentionally voices the author’s own opinion.