3 դեկտեմբեր, 2015 21:04

Freedom of the Press According to Serzh Sargsyan

serzho President Serzh Sargsyan giving a press conference to eight media organizations.

Yesterday, Serzh Sargsyan met with a number of news organizations. The man spoke. The others listened, asked questions, the cameras whirred, photos were snapped. Yet, for a whole 12 hours afterward, not a single word was written about the press conference by those news organizations. Not even a status on Facebook.

Colleagues, this man, for all intents and purposes, occupies the top position of the country. He doesn’t express his official views everyday. In a normal country, that press conference would have been broadcast live. In essence, you were present at a conspiratorial press conference that for 12 hours, at least, was kept a secret. Is it not clear why? Because he stuck his nose in the media’s business. Because the right of exclusivity that each of you had was obliterated by his simple whim -- that is, not a single one of you will write a single sentence about it until I or my press office confirms the official text, until we edit the final video report. He has made a mockery of the media.

You are not journalists for this man. Similar to how gangs are organized, he wants organized media, organized journalists. Just as he perceives his own power, the same applies for how he perceives journalism. Do you understand? He is a man of a completely other “culture” - he has led and continues to lead the National Security Service, and his mentality is stuck in that other “culture.” Instances during the Soviet era are not few, when the KGB created organized gangs.

You were the medium through which he has struck a blow on everyone, on all those who consider themselves to be a journalist. It’s clear that you had no choice; it’s clear that the rules of the game remain the rules of the game. This is the game that this man plays. Certainly, he did not personally “negotiate” with you as to how the interview would be conducted. During that interview, Serzh Sargsyan spoke about ethics in regard to the OSCE Minsk Group; how the recognition of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh by our parliament would be an expression of disrespect towards them. He’s right. Ethics means having a little bit of fear. Fear because you do not have the necessary intellect not to offend others. Now, who are the people sitting before you? How come the ethics that you know doesn’t count when it comes to them? Why do you not feel remorse for putting such ‘people of the pen’ in that situation? They should have been able to work right from where they were sitting; the world has been using computers to transfer texts for a long time now. Did you want to say that these people have nothing better to do but to come and listen carefully to what you had to say?

serzho2Fine, they listened. We understand that they are not online journalists, whose every word can reach audiences in seconds. We understand your thoughts should not be distracted by any unnecessary movements. But these people are reporters, they have a job to do. You demonstrated that you have absolute authority over everyone, because it’s one thing to have authority and agreements about an interview, it’s another thing to have authority over a journalist after an interview has been conducted. Is being on camera a podium for you where you want to appear flawless? Do what you want, go to Armenia’s public television and speak with Nver Mnatsakanyan. That would have been Nver Mnatsakanyan’s exclusive. That would have been an honest attitude toward Nver. And he would have decided the boundaries of that exclusive, when it would air if, of course, you would not dictate to him when it would be necessary for you.

You transformed the press conference into a New Year’s message, when you are taped on December 30 and have it aired on December 31. You didn’t even bother to learn from Russia, where President Putin has been giving his press conferences live for years. Moreover, even ordinary citizens are given the opportunity to ask questions during those events. Why did you need to “play house” in such a manner? For the duration of the whole press conference only a few cameras of one news organization were filming.

This one simple act you committed against these journalists is criminal. You need these news organizations - wasn’t there anybody in your circle who explained this to you? Each media outlet has their own cameras, they have spent thousands of dollars for those cameras.  In which country of the world have you seen 12 reporters from eight news organizations take part in one press conference from the studio of one media organization? In that case, why do the others bother to occupy so many channels?

Who has tricked you into believing that you must always look slick on air, that you must be shielded from the professional eye of the cameras, and that journalists don’t have the right to be the first to air that interview? These very journalists speak to their new employees about exclusives, about professionalism, they speak about the 21st century rules of the game where the whim of a single person is not part of the equation. Perhaps there is not a single president in the world who would not make a laughing stock out of you because of your capricious behavior during the press conference out of pure ethical considerations, but reporters would certainly not applaud the broadcast journalists at your press conference, regardless of the questions they asked.

* Սյունակում արտահայտված տեսակետները կարող են չհամընկնել ՍիվիլՆեթի տեսակետներին: