from their duties covering a month of heated campaigning
and voting, Yerevan journalists met last weekend
in the resort town of Tzakhadzor for a seminar
to discuss their coverage of the Presidential
The seminar was sponsored by the Yerevan Press
Club (YPC) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation
and centered around reports by the Caucasus Media
Institute and Internews on how the media performed
during the campaign and elections.
About 40 journalists, representing both pro-governmental
and oppositional media debated and discussed their
"In my opinion the best thing about such
meetings is the contacts between journalists.
And my observation from that seminar was that
the journalists in Armenia are more democratic
than Armenian politicians," said Asparuch
Panov, the Deputy Project Director of the Naumann
Foundation for Bulgaria, Romania and the Southern
"And today I can say that there is nothing
wrong with Armenian journalists. If I had not
known where these journalists are from I would
think they are from Baltic countries or Bulgaria,
Panov says the fact of journalists divided into
"camps" is an economic problem.
"The Constitution in Armenia, at least those
parts that deals with media, provides for freedom
of speech and press," Panov said. "(But)
there is no free media market in Armenia. The
journalists, TV stations and newspapers are financially
A YPC report said that the broadcast media generally
failed to provide balanced coverage of the campaign
either in the first or second rounds.
And the print media, YPC found, could be divided
into three major groups: those who supported Robert
Kocharyan; those who supported Stepan Demirchyan;
and those who favored neither, but generally opposed
Though the report was critical of his station's
work, Kentron television reporter Petros Ghazaryan
said the seminar was useful for providing a forum
for journalists to get to know each other.
"I met many journalists who I probably
would not meet in Yerevan," Ghazaryan said.
"We got to know each other, to discuss several
issues. Here, far from the political hustle, we
had a chance for free communication."
But Ghazaryan had a poor evaluation of the state
of his profession, saying journalism in Armenia
"has a lack of professionalism".
Orran newspaper reporter Melanya Barseghyan had
an equally dim view, saying that readers and viewers
lost trust in media during the Presidential elections.
"Sometimes when people know that you are
reporter, they became very aggressive," Barseghyan
said. "They do not want even to listen to
you, no matter which newspaper the reporter represents.
I think we should do plenty to gain back people's
Boris Navasardyan, president of YPC said that
the Council of Europe office in Yerevan and the
Armenian Ministry for Foreign Affairs were supposed
to hold training for Armenian journalists before
the elections, but the training did not take place.
"I don't know if as a result of that training
the journalists would become more prepared for
elections coverage," he said. "But probably
the seminars and trainings would help journalists
to better understand their mission."