Media’s Response to the Scandal Involving Angela Sargsyan’s Photos

Gegham Vardanyan

Physicist by education, journalist by occupation

The nude photos of popular Armenian actress Angela Sargsyan in uncompromising positions were discussed by online news media, on social networking sites and in newspapers — but not on television…


From what I remember, the incident involving Angela Sargsyan was the third erotic/pornographic scandal involving celebrities in Armenia. The first was singer Shprot; the second, singer Razmik Amyan. 


Both of their videos were shared through mobile phones and discussed in forums and online, but at that time discussions on Facebook weren’t as developed in Armenia as they are now and every sixth person was not on the Russian social networking site Odnoklassniki.


But now internet penetration is at a decent level. The story of Angela Sargsyan’s photos shook the Internet, moved to print media, but never made it to television. 


They say that the soap opera in which the actress plays in has had to make some changes to the script. Angela’s true story has manifested into the televised. 


Also, a TV commentator used the now well-known story of Angela Sargsyan to insult the referee at the recent Slovakia-Armenia Euro 2012 qualifying match. 


I don’t really watch television that much. Friends/acquaintances/family members who watch television say news reports haven’t covered the story of Angela Sargsyan’s photos, entertainment programs about celebrities haven’t broadcast the scandal and there haven’t been any televised interviews or discussions.


The topic of the photos missed the TV. Those who don’t have internet or don’t read newspapers were uninformed about the scandal. It seems we’re dealing with an act of self-censorship.


Television in Armenia filters certain events. What might be filtered is an opposition rally, a protest, murder… in this case, it was a pornographic scandal. It’s not important. What’s important is that the mechanism exists and it works reliably.


For the first time in Armenia we witnessed a porn scandal of this sort, and if we consider the public from the perspective of whether the story was interesting or not, then it should have a place on television’s agenda. The story of the photos should have been discussed not only on social networks, blogs and online news media sites, but also on television airwaves.


Perhaps the issue was about not spreading pornography, but we’re talking about Armenian TV channels, where they show the story of a mother who killed her children on the news. Television, where they broadcast news about automobile accidents and in the process break the norms of journalism ethics. But alongside this, they avoid a sex scandal — they are silent about the photos most discussed on social networks and on one of the topics of the week bringing visitors to online news sites. Such television is incomprehensible to me. 


And a little bit about terminology: online news sites and the print press were constantly using the term “nude photos.” In truth, they are pornographic photos. To mitigate the term, news agencies, in fact, misled readers.


Gegham Vardanyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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