10 steps to writing an article on Nagorno-Karabakh with no sources or new information

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.

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.

Step 5: Include a map.

The more dangerous looking the better.

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.

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*)

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.


2 thoughts on “10 steps to writing an article on Nagorno-Karabakh with no sources or new information

  1. This ultimately is a bit of a cheap shot. Sure, there’s plenty of silly stuff out there, but it’s not as if being on the ground in a war zone gives you this magical insight either. What you see, and what you can see, is incredibly constrained. (I spent some time in Bosnia in 1990s.) The dig at Tom De Waal is gratuitous. I enjoyed your other posts, I was not so much taken by this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Hans,

      Interesting comment. I appreciate your response and feedback. I probably should have made it more clear re: Waal. His piece goes to great lengths to say that he was essentially guessing about Azerbaijan, because no facts had been established up to that point. I was trying to point out how that message was lost by several of the articles that cited / quoted him – and was then used in propagandist style. If you ask me – they are the ones taking a cheap shot. The only other thing I’d say, is that I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who spend time on the ground, as you did, and for the journalists reporting on the situation in general. However, many of the articles I saw yesterday (I can send you links if you like) were essentially duplicates of each other following the exact formula above. I don’t think it’s cheap to point that out. Several people I know on both sides have expressed their deep sadness and regret at renewed violence that is needlessly taking lives – the formula above tends to reduce these lives to stats and figures absent context or empathy.

      – Best,



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