Journalists Complain That Their Questions Were Presented Differently At Pashinyan’s Press Conference

Gayane Asryan


On January 24 yet another online press conference with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was held. Many journalists are against communication with the media in this format and express their discontent by not submitting questions.

This time, various media representatives on social networks voiced that their questions were shortened, distorted and that their meaning was changed during the press conference.

CiviNet checked that the journalist who asked Pashinyan questions distorted the context of the issue related to President Armen Sargsyan’s citizenship.

Public TV journalist Tatev Danielyan formulated the question as follows: “It’s been said that they discovered through their investigation (meaning the Hetq publication) that in fact, Armen Sargsyan was not an RA citizen when he assumed the post of president… “

Meanwhile, Hetq discovered not that Sargsyan did not have RA citizenship, but that he was a citizen of Saint Kitts and Nevis sometime before becoming president. However, according to the Constitution, only a person who is a citizen of the Republic of Armenia in the last six years can become the President of the Republic of Armenia.

A1+’s question was also voiced differently on air.

The question of the media was like this: “What will Armenia be like in a year, with how much territory and population, and how do you feel about the formulations of some forces that ‘Armenia will become a province of Russia?’ And against the background of such publications, do you share the latest assessments of your colleagues in the National Assembly about the journalistic community of Armenia, and to what extent are they in line with ethical principles?”

A1+ Editor-in-Chief Karine Asatryan told Media.am that they equated their question with Armdaily’s question, the main idea of which was to understand the Prime Minister’s stance regarding his party member Vahagn Aleksanyan’s statement from the NA podium, in which he called journalists “verbal prostitutes.”

“The directions of our questions are different, we are interested in Pashinyan’s assessment about his colleagues, and not in the individual’s statement. If there were a lot of questions, they could have decided not to voice our question, but they shouldn’t have combined it with another question of completely different content from a different media outlet the way that they did,” he said.

According to the editor, the press conference gave the impression that their name was mentioned, but the question was not. “Even if we accept that the topic is the same, both questions should have been asked, because the formulations were different. Especially since the first part of our question was different.”

He does not see any intention here, they just tried to show that questions are being raised by as many media outlets as possible.

The working style of the government colleagues also gave rise to bad convictions by Factor.am executive director Arevik Sahakyan.

The media outlet’s question was also distorted on air and did not follow the logic of the question. This is the second time that Factor.am’s question was not presented on air as it was originally formulated.

“Taking into account the previous experience, when a very important part of the question was left out, we wrote on the official form of the media that we ask our colleagues conducting the press conference to present the question in the same way and without commentary,” Sahakyan said.

According to her, their question was shortened in an incomprehensible way, the main points of the questions were left out and as a result of the distortion it ended up sounding illogical․ “I do not want to think that this is censorship. The first time we thought it might have been negligence, but this time, especially after our request that they do not shorten it, this leads to bad conclusions.”

Parts that were excluded from Factor.am’s question included those regarding the damage caused to the democratic image of the Republic of Armenia as a result of sending troops to Kazakhstan, and the opportunity to avoid getting involved in a possible Russian-Ukrainian war. In general, more than half of the question was not asked.

“After all, we are the owner of the issue and we have the right to insist that it is presented as it was formulated. If any changes were planned, our government partners could give us feedback. If such a format is chosen, then it is worth adding a few minutes and reading about 2 dozen questions on the air in their original form, especially since we are deprived of the opportunity to respond and comment on the answer, ” said the executive head of Factor.am.

The media outlet will discuss the expediency of participating in the Prime Minister’s press conferences in this format in the near future.

The website published a video on this topic, explaining how they wrote the questions vs how they were presented on air.

In the material published at the end of 2021, the journalists wanted the authorities to create more favorable conditions for them to work in during the upcoming new year.

And one of those conditions, according to journalist Narek Kirakosyan, was the return of Prime Minister Pashinyan’s 4-5 hours of face-to-face contact with journalists․ “The online format is not enough for journalists and not all questions are being answered. For example, during the last press conference, my question was presented incompletely, while in the case of a live question and answer session I would have been able to make observations.”

Although the Prime Minister has recently started holding press conferences more frequently in this format, they are obviously not enough for the media representatives, because they last about 2 hours while on the other hand, being open for non-governmental organizations as well.

At first, there was not enough time for all the questions and they were often grouped according to directions, but now the moderation of the questions raises concerns.

The problem is not in the grouping of questions, but in the shortening of them, during which the meanings change and the question loses its original meaning. The result is an answer that has little to do with the question itself.

Gayane Asryan

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