The monitoring report titled "The Situation Concerning Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Peaceful Assembly in Syunik Marz" has become cause for discussion: news outlets based in the southern Armenian province (marz) of Syunik don't agree with the main conclusions of the research conducted by the Rights Information Center NGO.
According to the findings, there is no independent print media in Syunik that quickly and effectively covers events; prints political, analytical and investigative articles; and publishes news without partial internal censorship.
The report notes that a predominant portion (87%) of broadcasting by TV stations in Syunik is comprised of reports covering the local authorities' activities, advertisements, and already outdated coverage of international events.
According to the findings, news outlets in Syunik are financially dependent and weak. There's no print press in the province and local newspapers are not timely in their reporting.
From October to December 2011, the Rights Information Center monitored 6 print and online newspapers published in Syunik, and the news programs of 4 regional TV stations — Kapan's Sosi and Khustup, Goris' Last and Sisian's Syuni.
Director of Kapan's Sosi TV Vahe Sargsyan doesn't agree with the findings of the monitoring. "In rare cases does Sosi TV cover the visits of regional or community leaders. We maintain timeliness in our broadcasting — we even have our own correspondents in Sisian and Goris who work promptly," he says.
Greta Grigoryan, editor of the bimonthly paper Zangezur, points out that they always publish critical pieces. "And each time our mayor gets annoyed with us. Those who conducted the monitoring forget by what expensive means we take the paper to Yerevan to print and bring back — no one would work for 32,500 drams [about $79 USD], but we work for this small change," she says.
Those who conducted the monitoring are volunteers who were specially trained to do the work. In the opinion of Rights Information Center chair Marat Dadunts, discussions on the report are important, though the report's findings are reliable.
Meri Soghomonyan, Kapan