YPC Weekly Newsletter

2001


JOURNALISTS TELLING ABOUT THEMSELVES

In November the results of another research were summarized – the survey among Armenian journalists conducted by the Association of Investigative Journalists of Armenia in July, 2001, with a sample of 55 representatives of 27 print and electronic media of the country. Most of the respondents have been practicing journalism for five years and more, and most of them have higher professional education. According to the analysis of the primary data, made by independent media expert Laura Baghdasarian, the following picture can be traced. 

The journalists were practically unanimous (96.4%) in mentioning that the modern Armenian media have unsolved problems, the foremost among which are the financial issues (31%), professionalism level (21%) and the imperfection of the media-related legislation (10.1%).

When noting the three major problems faced by print press, 37 times the high prices of newspapers were specified, 20 times – low confidence in the press. In 8 cases the problem of dissemination, the press focus on events in the capital only, poor management and such were mentioned.

72.7% of the respondents think that the sphere they are writing about receives satisfactory coverage in general. 16.4% were dissatisfied, 9.1% answered that “their” field is covered very well. Only one journalist found it difficult to answer this question. The reasons for bad coverage are given primarily as unsatisfactory professional level of journalists or lack of narrowly specialized journalists.

The question of “How do you assess the work of Armenian journalists?” was answered by 40% that the journalists’ “writing is adequate to the level of their remuneration”, 20% thinks that journalists are biased, and 7.3% think the journalists are objective.

A significant part of the respondents (47.3%) mentioned that the media they represent are partially independent. 29.1% think their media are independent. And only 10 out of 55 journalists said their media are dependent. At the same time, in the opinion of 41.8%, there are no independent media in Armenia, while 21.8% maintain the contrary. A significant proportion of journalists (30.9%) found this question difficult to answer or gave a dubious answer. Interestingly enough, the vast majority of the journalists (67.3%) think themselves to be independent, 12.7% found it difficult to answer whether they are free themselves, the same proportion admitted their dependence on subjective factors, by choosing the answer option of “not free from my own self”. 

When asked, if there were cases when the materials written were not published, 49.1% gave a negative answer, 45.5% noted the irregularity of the publication of their stories.

Out of 55 respondents only four were positive in saying the media of Armenia are not corrupt, 12 found it difficult to answer. The remaining 39 think that there is corruption in the Armenian media, out of which 19 journalists note that there are few cases of corruption, 18 say that they are frequent and 2 answered “so far they are neither many nor few”. Among the corruption examples in the media the most popular answers were protectionism (74.5%) and bribery (14.5%).

Among the spheres hardest to access for information the journalists mentioned the legal (36.8%), the judicial (28.1%), the economic (16.6%) ones. The most closed agencies are the RA Ministry of Interior Affairs (28.3%), Ministry of Defense (22.4%) and the Prosecutor’s Office (16.4%). The most open structures are the National Assembly (15.4%) and political parties (11.8%). As the respondents note, the most frequent justifications for the refusals to give information are "unauthorized to answer " (28.2%), "cannot give this information" (23.5%), "do not possess sufficient information" (23.5%), "it is state or official secret " (15.3%) and "no time" (2.3%). The question of “What do you do when refused information?” was answered by the majority of journalists (48.7%) as publishing the fact of refusal, 21.1% said they address higher bodies of the information source, 11.8% rely on principle “information is worth any price paid”.  None of the respondents has ever attempted to defend their right to receipt and dissemination of information in the court.