Step 1: Reassure readers that the situation “remains tense all along the front.”
Step 2: Go on twitter.
Step 3: Find relevant details – body counts and inflammatory statements should take highest priority.
— Gevorg Ghazaryan (@initiaty) April 2, 2016
“Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he backs Azerbaijan “to the end” amid its clashes with Armenians… https://t.co/bu3b97dDvE
— Georgi Chaltikyan,MD (@gchaltikyan) April 3, 2016
Step 4: Lacking other relevant information look for what type of weapons were used, i.e. Mi-24, MM21 (Grad), ThunderB Drone. This will make it sound like you know what you’re talking about.
Downed DRONE in Nagorno-Karabakh Thunder (B) Israel VS Azerbaijan, 02.04.16 https://t.co/KaA9rWAOe3
— Drinka Mercep (@DrinkaMercep) April 2, 2016
Step 5: Include a map.
— Velina Tchakarova (@vtchakarova) April 3, 2016
The more dangerous looking the better.
Region is on state of war, possible except only of Georgia pic.twitter.com/TxfruZvMl1
— Liveuamap (@Liveuamap) April 2, 2016
Step 6: Find a video that may or may not be relevant but looks like war. If possible find more in order to make a 30 second compilation that can be recycled for other articles elsewhere.
— Conflict News (@Conflicts) April 3, 2016
Step 7: Add a bit of speculation. It’s ok so long as its attributed to an analyst who has the same amount of information as you. It does not matter whether or not the speculation will be used to further the propaganda of one regime or the other. (Updated*)
— ArtsakhPress Agency (@ArtsakhPress) April 3, 2016
Step 8: Wash yourself of any responsibility of spreading propaganda from either regime by stating plainly that both regimes are spreading ‘unreliable information’ – regardless if your article is helping them do so.
Step 9: Organize tweets accordingly, adding a few extra characters here and there when necessary.
Step 10: Publish and share widely.
For context read – ‘Why everything about the way we report on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is wrong.’
Ryan McCarrel is a PhD Candidate in Political Geography at University College Dublin. He writes extensively on Geopolitics, Borders and World (Dis)Order. You can follow him on twitter @ryanmccarrel
*After some comments I wanted to make it clear that Thomas de Waal’s blog post for Carnegie Moscow Center made it explicit at the time of his writing that speculation is pure guesswork. “This naturally leads to speculation about why the fighting should start at this particular moment. Any analysis of this is pure guesswork.” The main issue is with the way that some picked up on the guesswork, and how speculation was ultimately translated into propaganda.