Street Art: “Don’t Strike, I’m a Journalist”

Gayane Asryan


The image “Don’t Strike, I’m a Journalist” has become a model of street art, appearing on a building wall on Yerevan’s Pushkin Street as a reflection of a real-life incident. 

This image and its message have become public, winning the Media Initiatives Center contest. The creator of the work, Counterstrike Art member Artak Gevorgyan, reminds us that journalists’ activities shouldn’t be obstructed.

The phrase entered the public consciousness in 2014, when a parliamentary security officer tried to strike an A1+ journalist during her coverage of a demonstration, and photojournalist Narek Aleksanyan, expressing professional solidarity, came to the next public event wearing a headband with the words “Don’t Strike, I’m a Journalist.”

Gevorgyan says that this incident was an occasion, using the example of journalists, to talk about the importance of the right to freedom of speech for every member of society.

“Narek’s act was more targeted, whereas we decided to use the potential of street art and fight for media freedom. Since street art has a short life, we archive all the works by digitizing them,” he says.

Aleksanyan confesses that he didn’t think very long about the impact of his move. “Actually, I intended to give my reaction to the campaign, which at that moment was tantamount to the situation. The media took an interest in the issue, there were a few reports, though I don’t think violence and attacks against journalists should be stopped because of what I did.”

Of course, the potential of the image is not enough to ward off violence, but the image can prompt people to think about violence and professional duties.

The phrase “Don’t Strike, I’m a Journalist” makes obvious the vulnerable situation where striking is permitted, but different tricks have to be used to defend yourself — including also street art.

The message will be spread also through another medium: Artak’s work has become the basis of a PSA with the slogan “A journalist’s freedom is also my freedom,” which, along with videos about the two other contest winners, will be available soon.

Gayane Asryan

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