Monitoring Body Finds No Breach Of Journalistic Ethics In Khumaryan’s Article

Marianna Danielyan



The Public Broadcaster has requested the Media Ethics Observatory (MEO) to analyze an article written by Garegin Khumaryan, the director of Public Radio. The article covers an interview with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in the radio booth. The Council of Public Broadcaster’s statement regarding the article has also been analyzed by the Media Ethics Monitoring Body.

Case Details

On February 5, Garegin Khurumyan reflected on the January 31 interview with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on the“Safe Environment” radio program in the “Society” section of the Public Radio website.

In the article, Khumaryan expressed his disagreement with the prime minister’s positions during the program. The prime minister had discussed security issues and identity-related matters concerning Armenia. Khumaryan criticized the program’s content and the work of the presenter, Baregham Ghukasyan. He commented that “what happened was not good journalism” and that “the program quality should have been much better.” Khumaryan announced that someone else would host the program from that day forward.

The Council of Public Broadcaster issued a statement a day after Khumaryan’s article was published. The council accused the director of the radio company of misusing his authority and official position to present his opinion unchallenged.

According to the CPB, interviews with heads of state worldwide are not meant to be matter of debate, which Khumaryan used as an opportunity to criticize the interviewer’s journalistic abilities as “bad journalism.”


Expert opinion

The Board of the Public Broadcaster has filed a request with MEO to analyze the actions of Garegin Khumaryan, who is the Executive Director of “Public Radio Company” CJSC. The Board intends to receive an expert opinion on their position regarding this matter.

The MEO requested both parties to provide further details.

The CPB members highlighted that they considered the posting of Khumaryan’s article on the Public Radio website as a breach of official ethics and the RA legislation on joint-stock companies.

Garegin Khumaryan explained to the MEO that he, as a journalist and director of PRA, is allowed to express his opinion on the quality of radio programs through an article. He pointed out that the “Audiovisual Media” law and other legislative acts uphold his right to freedom of expression.

After reviewing the complaint materials and obtaining clarifications from both parties, MEO shared its conclusions:

  • Khumaryan’s article presents the author’s opinions and evaluations and does not violate journalistic ethics.
  • The law on  “Audiovisual Media” does not limit the Executive Director of Public Broadcaster from contributing to an article.
  • The language used in the CPB’s statement is inadequate for the situation. The statement claims that “interviews with top officials from around the world do not necessarily entail a debate” and that Khumaryan “seems to have misused his official position and power”. It would have been more appropriate to use a milder tone in the statement without making any accusations.

The MEO found it problematic that Khumaryan shared his opinions regarding the quality of a program aired on PRA in the “Society” section of the Public Radio website. According to the MEO, Khumaryan should have posted his views in the director’s column or any other relevant section dedicated to professional issues.

Moreover, the Monitoring Body recommended that any critical evaluations or comments regarding an employee’s professional performance should be kept private and discussed internally.

The responses

The director of Public Radio, Garegin Khumaryan, stated that he finds the verdict acceptable, although he may have some disagreements with certain emphasized problems.

Garegin Khumaryan disagreed with the scrutiny of his relationship with Baregham Ghukasyan. However, he acknowledged the critical proposals presented by the Monitoring Body. In particular, he agreed that certain documented internal regulations should be introduced into the working process of the Public Radio Company. Additionally, he accepted the proposal that all publications related to the radio’s work should be carried out under a separate title. Khumaryan confirmed that these necessary corrections will be implemented.

Ara Shirinyan, the Chairman of the Council of the Public Broadcaster, has stated that even if the parties involved agree with the expert opinion, they accept the opinion beforehand, considering the professional abilities and authority of the experts.

“I can confidently say that the members of the Monitoring Body have delved into the investigation of the essence and details of the incident. It is noteworthy that the opinion of the director of the Public Radio, along with his political stance, could have been equated with the opinion of the Radio Station, which was considered unacceptable by the Council of Public Broadcaster”, said Ara Shirinyan.
Shirinyan believes it’s unethical to comment on expert opinions they had sought.

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