The Year of “Optimistic” Relationships is Being Launched for Journalists

Nune Hakhverdyan

Art critic, journalist

Usually at the end of the year journalists become very in demand. Even extremely in demand. Different departments, organizations and associations meet with journalists after each other and honor them with diplomas, certificates, awards and various other signs of attention. Among them are also the orders, medals and titles.

In other words, all the attributes that symbolized the Soviet vertical reward approach. Basically this approach today is not only considered to be a retro-state ritual, but also a tool of its time, which uses right and left, with regular and questionable success.

Ahead of the New Year celebrations journalists become a compulsory part of reporting events, not only as those reporting but also as the covered side. This tradition probably could proceed smoothly and without results, if it was not widespread in nature and was not perceived as an effort aimed at proving something.

Let’s say that any office declares that it will reward the best journalist (in their opinion) covering its sector. And with that it offers a measurement scale, saying that is the good one.

For example, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia organized a festive reception for journalists, and stated that from them he expects optimism about the future.

“I will not hide that from you we expect criticism, and advice, and suggestions, but we are very interested in all of that being constructive, practical, objective and professional,” said the Prime Minister and handed Armenian government souvenirs to the “constructive, practical, objective and professional” criticism-advice giving journalists.

The Prime Minister indicated that in his scale of importance, optimism came first.

And the NA president, who awarded the RA NA Medal of Honor and RA NA commemorative medals for contributions made in media and freedom of expression, considered the priority freedom of speech and a relaxing atmosphere.

The word “ease” put forward a question about the cases of violence towards journalists during the passing year.

The NA president responded: “Never and never is there violence towards journalists in Armenia. Basically, the political situation is that so in any given event the journalist also becomes a participant of everything and very often similar cases occur.”

If course, the NA president is a great orator, for whom the important thing is not so much the logic of his speech, so much as the mood (for example this rhythm: there are never, never, but sometimes it occurs)

But in any case what he said sounded like a hint for journalists: don’t become a participant, so that there will be no violence.

In Armenia many things are based not on laws, but rather on relations. Especially appreciated are the special relations. And when the authorities give certificates to journalists, they are trying to demonstrate what type of relations they are expecting of them.

The flow of awards has two explanations.

First, to define standards for the entire field. For example, when the NA president gives a reward to Gagik Shamshyan, he is setting an amount, saying, that this is good work. And if that amount is highly questionable and even unacceptable, it cannot be counterbalanced, because shamshyan.com is declared as a chosen website, with all of its shortcomings, all of the issues related to journalistic ethics and contentious language.

And the second explanation is more promising, because if the authorities are seriously focusing on professionals, then they are waiting for retaliatory measures. At least more tolerant and friendly references and optimistic coverage.

Since the Soviet era authorities are always awarded ideologically pleasant specialists. Or with the expectation of being pleasant to materialize.

Professional journalists, by their nature, are in opposition to the authorities, even if they are optimists. Any state decision is “doomed,” under the bright and hopeful light, by the authorities presenting it. There is no need to make this light more vivid.

There is a need to see the crevices and traps of decisions to, so to speak, find the dark sides. And that is what journalists are doing, if they are genuinely professional and care about their reputation.  

And special relations these days are a very volatile subject, today they are here, and tomorrow they are gone. Just like authorities (here today, gone tomorrow).

The awards ceremony is a small link of control, the bigger link is already solidly framed. That is the institute of the media’s editors-in-chief, which has been already largely turned into a manageable tool.

And in these circumstances (editors-in-chief are controllable, and individual journalists aware, who they are rewarding) it is more important to maintain immunity. Journalistic immunity.

The rainfall of awards will not add to the journalists’ prestige, it will sooner discredit the profession. Of course, the issue of accepting or not accepting an award, participating or not participating in receptions is every journalist’s choice.

In all periods of time, to successfully depreciate any idea it was enough to exaggerate it and take it to a grotesque level.  

After all, they can stop calling journalists to different events, not include them in lists of award recipients, even openly ignore their work, but if the journalist is doing valuable work and is self-sufficient, they will read and listen to her.

And when the NA president expressed conviction, that “in the next year the Armenian media field will show itself worthy, guided by state and national interests,” no journalist that received a medal intervened, saying, that state and national interests are able to also contradict each other.

So it is established, that from now on they are the same, and any step of the state is now aligned with the people’s interest. Awarded journalists, whether they wanted to or not, accepted that, since they have already been awarded.  

Nune Hakhverdyan

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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