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Opinion: The Turkey Earthquake and Armenian Television

Yesterday there was a strong earthquake that was felt in Yerevan and other parts of Armenia. In an instant, a large number of inhabitants of the Armenian capital ran out into the streets in a panic. Mobile communication was failing, and people in the street didn’t know the scale and consequences of what had just happened.

“I wonder, how is it in Leninakan [Gyumri]?”, “Where did the earthquake happen?” and “Is there destruction?” were questions asked by anxious Armenian citizens.

There was no information.

By force of habit, which I should’ve given up long ago, I turned on the TV. For one-and-a-half hours, first with impatience then with amazement, I was irritated, waiting for Armenian TV channels to report news of the disaster. One channel was broadcasting football, the others — concerts, soap operas… I don’t know, was there even a single news ticker? I didn’t notice.

Soon, information about the incident appeared on the Internet. Russian (!) media first briefly then in more detail reported on the earthquake. Armenian TV channels continued to sing, play, and entertain its audiences.

I have a question, which is probably rhetorical: is Armenian TV still a mass medium? Or is it high time to replace the term? There are many options: a mass entertainment medium, before zombification and a medium that forms bad taste.

Where were all those who should’ve promptly informed me and the whole country about the earthquake that happened? This was no ordinary event: half of the capital poured out into the streets. Incidentally, the capital of a country, which in 1988, experienced a catastrophic earthquake.

The news services of all the local TV channels were functioning normally, but the incident took place on a Sunday? You should always inform (how and what information to present every day is another question altogether. And this is another important reason to distrust TV), especially when the public is impatiently waiting for any news when there are terrorist attacks, natural disasters and so on.

It’s one thing when television admits its weakness, inadequacy, its defectiveness – it openly states it and tries to fight the status quo. This is an honest position, with which you can sympathize. But it’s another thing when the rhetoric of praise, self-conceit and complacency have absorbed the airwaves and covered the country by the ears.

The reality is that, for me, Armenian television, as a means of obtaining information, is third rate. It has exactly the same meaning for a considerable number of citizens of this country. But Armenia’s independence shakes in its manifestations: we are so independent that we get news about the earthquake that brought the country to its feet from other countries.

These days there are fewer delusions, which is great. I urge all friends to watch Armenian TV as infrequently as possible.

Text by Roman Nadiryan