Opinion makers

While mass media in Azerbaijan are technically developed, they face serious problems with content. The absence of independent media directly paralyses the communication flow between media and society. The audience cannot get all the information it needs, as media channels are mainly provided by the state. Even cable television is under full control. Besides satellite antennas, there are no alternative media. Hence the Azerbaijani opinion makers find a tool of self-expression mainly on social media, where they list the problems they see and try to analyse the real situation. Social media allows communication with the audience, collaboration, community creation and feedback. It allows to share information that is not available in the newspapers and Internet resources, including all television channels, and creates resonance in the community.

During the coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic, people began to watch mostly local TV channels. There were two reasons for this: people stayed at home and watched local TV, and secondly, for the first time in the history of modern Azerbaijan, the highest state and government officials began to appear on screens every day, holding live briefings for journalists. Although all of these measures are about the government's response to the coronavirus, it was the first time in many years that a journalist had answered a question live. In this case, the population watched local TV because they received information directly from there. Therefore, we can say with confidence that TV was watched at that time.

In addition, the first news about COVID-19 of the Operational Headquarters established under the Cabinet of Ministers was spread mainly on websites and FB pages of report.az (84K likes), APA TV (191K likes), qafqazinfo.az (78K likes).

Political and social issues, including the hardships faced by the population during the coronavirus, were widely reported on Meydan TV (558K likes) and Radio Liberty (492K likes).

The portal https://koronavirusinfo.az/az is also one of the most watched. But this portal does not have a social network page. The portal mainly serves as an information support for journalists.

Most of the independent media outlets are not allowed to attend the press conference held by the Operational Headquarter under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Although the independent journalists requested for a permission several times in order to be able to participate in the above-mentioned press conference, they got rejection. Since the conference is a live broadcast, the officials do not want to receive any comments or questions containing criticism. Especially, after a journalist from the Meydan TV asked a 'sharp' question in one of the previous live conferences, its doors were closed for the independent journalists and reporters for good.