When The Fourth Estate Becomes The First

Hovhannes Yeranyan


The Velvet Revolution or bloodless change of power surprised many people. It’s not only about the loss of power by the upper class, and those who were under its umbrella, like the businessman or the intellectual elite. The results of the revolution, apparently, was a surprise for even those who started it, the supporting group and all those who made it a reality, the people.

But this isn’t it either. It’s extremely interesting, as to what was taking place in the media field during the days of protests and now.

The majority of television companies pretended that it didn’t hear anything, at best showing dozens of people from the tens of  thousands who were participating in the marches. As though to say here there are some people who are protesting. This, of course, was an old and familiar approach.

Instead, we saw something new. There were a few websites which were providing live broadcasts online, such as RFE/RL Azatutyun, CivilNet. These websites can be compared to an underground metro, which was packed and overflowing with people, because all other forms of transportation weren’t working properly.

It was the metro that was the main form of transportation and the live broadcasts from a few websites, which had a huge audience.

On May 8, after Nikol Pashinyan was elected as Prime Minister, hosts of programs from different so called responsible tv channels would go on air looking as though they were at a funeral, gloomy, sad and mournful.

Meanwhile, the whole country, or at least the vast majority of the population, were celebrating.

Then, it seems that everything fell into place. News programs began to exchange Serzh Sargsyan’s name with Nikol Pashinyan’s, and continued to give information using old and tried vocabulary, phrasing, tone and accuracy.

Television companies don’t notice, because, if they don’t have a need for a revolution, then they at least have a need for reform.

They will have to make reforms. TV companies who are used to taking orders from Baghramyan 26, need time to get used to the new state of things, to understand what to do with their newfound freedom.

But the new situation isn’t complicated by that alone. With his live feeds, Nikol Pashinyan has taken away the advantage of a few websites, which would gather an army of visitors online.

In fact, the fourth estate has become the first, because the first face of the country provides all urgent and demanded information.

It seems that other younger members of the government have adopted a similar working style. This is a real revolution, taking into consideration the announcement of closed sessions by the former government.

But it’s not only the field of media that is surprised and doesn’t know where to begin its revolution.

All of us need time.

Only four or five years ago, I told a journalist in an interview that I was not happy about my state as a writer, because I have been writing for several years now and everything I write is like an epitaph.

As if we are putting a tomb on the grave of our periodically breathing homeland. It was hard to imagine a more tragic situation than the eyewitness testimony of a dying country.   

Many people can recall the noise made on the internet regarding Husik Ara’s poem, Apocalypto.

The author of those lines was cursed at as much as you can imagine. The defenders weren’t few, as it was impossible not to feel and see the concerns regarding the tragic loss of a homeland.

Armenia today has already risen from the dirt and is in search for its dream in flight. Many of us have the need to start from zero on our path to searching for that dream.

The celebratory mood of the day still cannot become the source of a valuable work of artistic prose, especially an epic prose.

Meanwhile, prose needs to wait for its conclusion, we don’t know the final of the epic yet. The exaltation of the masses, even the whole nation, cannot become a novel without having undertones of fake, superficial optimism.

It’s no coincidence that the collection of poetry and songs dedicated to the movement of today can already be published. Meanwhile, it will be difficult to see short stories, especially novels anytime soon.

Hrant Matevosyan, in one of his interviews, referring to the collapse of the Soviet state, said that the country has passed and literature written openly or between the lines against the state, are an anachronism.

He humbly referred to his literature as well, but in reality, he was such a skilled writer, that the ruin of any authority or state could not make his writings uninteresting or an anachronism.

Happy is the journalist who will find their own way to share the news. Perhaps also the writer who will write a piece of prose about the people’s upheaval and the new state, so that regardless of the future course of the revolution, it will remain valuable.

But oh if only, the programs of our new state will be fulfilled and our expectations justified. Both media and literature will find an escape from the trap created by unexpected freedom and optimism.

Hovhannes Yeranyan

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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