I Think That No One Will Be Absolutely Frank

Nune Hakhverdyan

Art critic, journalist

Editor-in-chief and owner of Aravot newspaper, Aram Abrahamyan, is a classic person in Armenia’s meia field. During various difficult, intricate and joyful years, he was able to find the platforms where self-manifestation is possible.

Now, aside from having his own column in Aravot, he also carries out interviews on Shant TV.

Aram Abrahamyan has seen a lot and knows a lot, and he says “don’t expect a sensation from me. Each media outlet does their work as they imagine it should be.”

There is an opinion that media outlets are now going through difficult times, they aren’t operating according to the rules of the former game, and the rules of the new game, the positions and funding are not clear.

I wouldn’t say that now is more difficult than before. And if the issue lays in the rules of the game, then I can only speak for those media outlets, where I am the owner and editor-in-chief.

We mainly work now as we had worked before. On the contrary, I think that the calls, complaints and threats from the authorities or pro-government people to Aravot during its 24 years of existence, have completely disappeared since April-May 2018.

Had there been any in the month of March?

If you want to ask if there was more pressure during Serzh Sargsyan’s time or Robert Kocharyan, then I would answer there were less during the time of Serzh Sargsyan.

But as far as I understand, journalists and editors sometimes complain about pressure from the public, public moods which have emerged in the post-revolutionary period.

It’s clear that people are filled with sincere love for and full faith in the new authorities, and every criticism and semi-criticism (for example, any interview with a member of the RPA) is perceived as inadequate and hate speech.

But it’s normal, we will continue to publish criticism either way.

The rules of the game haven’t changed for me. If you are breathing freely and someone is buzzing around your ear, you continue to be free. No one is buzzing, you keep breathing freely.

And to what extent do you emphasize financial independence for freedom of the media?

That has always been important and always will be. But dependence on the one who gives money, and internal freedom is not so linked by causality.

Internal freedom helps you to reject thing that you disagree with.

If printed paper ceases to exist, and only online Aravot remains, can you say that that will be the platform that you have been dreaming for over the past 24 years.

Of course, now all newspapers are retreating,  but I think that newspapers ought to be kept as long as possible. The culture of reading paper (books, magazines, newspapers) in any case differs from the culture of reading from a monitor.

Aravot’s website has hundreds of thousands of views per day and is among the top 10 most visited websites. Yes, I think our website is interesting.  

We have our policies, which we respect and follow. Sometimes we can make mistakes, misunderstandings happen, but they are not done deliberately.

Aravot has been active, during all of the presidencies, and you a demanded journalist. Do you have a formula as to when you should retreat and when you should move forward? And how much can you keep from getting dirty?

It was a philosophical question… I’ve always been guided by the desire to share balanced information.

Even if that information is not balanced?

I have tried to balance it. Of course, it didn’t always work, but that’s the magic in a journalist’s work.

Do you agree with the Prime Minister’s statement, that the press has never been so free than it is now?

To some extent, he is right. Especially if we consider not the websites and newspapers but television.

As far as I know, pressure and instructions from Baghramyan 26 (show this, report on this first if it has anything to do with the President or Prime Minister, make an 8 minute reportage about them instead of a two minute one etc.) have ceased.

I hope the pressure has disappeared, although I cannot be sure a hundred percent.

And, of course, I see the sense in Prime Minister’s statement.

Probably many businessmen, who are also owners of TV companies, will breathe freely because the channel was a burden on them.

It’s been like that so far at least. There will be some rearrangements in the television field, but probably a bit later, after the parliamentary election.  

And until then, of course, everyone The Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP), the Republican Party of Armenia, The ARF Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir will use their information resources for propaganda. That is simple, but in the future, of course, there will be a retransformation of the television field.

Will there be less channels?

That would be logical. Only the channels which deal with pure television business and do what is interesting and what is being sold will remain. I do not say the media, because that is only a small part of television business.

And as a result will there be discoveries of new financial sources for media, a they say, lustration?

I’m afraid of that word.

I agree, it’s a heavy word.

I think that no one will ever absolutely discover and no one will be discovered. And no one will be absolutely frank.

Interview by Nune Hakhverdyan

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