You Have to Pay for Everything, Sooner or Later

German Avagyan


Our photographs are ousted from the local press and replaced with other images, which Google puts in the palm of the news media’s hand

About 20% of the submissions to the 2015 World Press Photo contest were disqualified because of impermissible excessive digital manipulation.  

Jury member Gary Knight said: “If the public have no confidence in visual journalism, that’s a serious problem — not only for visual journalism, but for the public and for our societies and for our democracies.”

Armenian photographers are not yet faced with disqualification by the WPP, but our media environment makes an “invaluable” contribution to the task of abandoning public trust in photos and also the whole of photojournalism, as a result.

Let me try to depict a summarizing picture of the photos in the Armenian media from the last months of last year.

On Dec. 22, News.am reported India’s Border Security Force plane crash. According to the information, four people died. It’s lamentable that four people died and 10 were injured in remote India.

We hope that the Armenian authorities, reading this news, expressed their condolences to the Indian people. Especially if we take into account that this tragic news is “adorned” with the photo of Asiana Airlines’ Boeing 777-28EER, which crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport — on July 6, 2013. In this crash, three teenagers died and 182 adults were injured.


It doesn’t bode well somehow… it’s blasphemy — you can’t put it another way. For a good design on one’s page, one can speculate also on other people’s deaths. In short, the availability of photos through a Google search doesn’t lead to anything good.

Here’s another example of “adorning” a news story with a photo having nothing to do with the incident. On Dec. 18, Lragir reported that Azerbaijani militants had crossed the border. Armenian soldiers were killed. Three of them. The misfortune entered our Armenian families, but Lragir journalists didn’t have time to obtain photos of the killed youths — for publication and out of sympathy. 


Why bother when you can simply use a photo from Armenpress’s archives received a few months ago (while also putting Armenpress in an awkward position)?

Some armed men in black uniforms are attacking… the photographer is running behind them… and taking photos. Who are these guys? Are they Azerbaijani militants? And why was an Armenpress photojournalist running after Azerbaijani militants?

Are our guys pushing the militants back? If so, why are they attacking some stronghold, which is beautifully painted in a concealing color? Whom are they attacking? Where are they attacking? And why are there blue-painted lampposts along the Artsakh border?

It’s obvious: what we are seeing are military exercises. Far away from the border.

Such examples are numerous, and you can’t list them all.

When will Armenian editors finally stop this mockery?

It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. With their lack of professionalism they endanger us, photojournalists. Our photographs are ousted from the local press and replaced with other images, which Google puts in the palm of the news media’s hand willingly and for free…

But you have to pay for everything — sooner or later. Even for photographs that are “free”.

German Avagyan

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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