“Media Advocate” initiative starts a series of conversations with press secretaries. The goal is to find out the efficiency of the work of state agencies with mass media, to raise the problems and try to propose solutions. Our first interlocutor is the former speaker of the Ministry of Defense Artsrun Hovhannisyan, who now coordinates the work with the media of the Crisis Information Center located in Tavush. According to Artsrun Hovhannisyan the situation on the border is relatively calm at the moment.
To the question, how does he assess the work of the media these days, Mr. Hovhannisyan responded: “Good, not considering the exceptions, I do not want to cast a shadow on the general atmosphere, most of them worked very well. For example, if there are 100-150 active media outlets, perhaps 130-140 work of them work normally, united, balanced, without haste, without creating unnecessary tension, it is getting better year after year, because they understand that the opponent is on the other side, not here. What was the main intention of our calls and urgings; to be together these days, they were calling, we were telling them how we should work, we were informing what time should they come, what place should they register to go to the front line together, then we were learning that they were bypassing the requirement, and were using another way at another time. If they are told there is an information center where they should go and confirm their data, at least their name and surname, register their media outlet so that we can recognize, understand, move along the mentioned schedule, it means, it is their security problem, there are some who ignore it, so, how can I assess it? Some try to go to the front on their own, using their own connections, to go for an interview with a community leader, to ask if the new authorities put pressure on them, they forget that a war is going on. The media outlets must realize in those days that sometimes the atmosphere of the media work they imagine is not ideal, they should not write what they hear, or write unverified information, hurry, confuse words – artillery shelling and shelling, every word may be fatal in those days.”
We asked Artsrun Hovhannisyan how he assesses the work of the PRIC SNCO at that tense moment. Volunteer groups translated information into different languages for an external audience and disseminated it on various social platforms, which was actually the job of the SNCO․ “They helped me too, of course, we are very grateful to the volunteers, many of them are my friends, they are able to do it, they help, they support in some way, we are grateful, but the SNCO quickly controlled the situation. There has never been a time when someone’s work was not criticized by someone else, so I consider all that unserious, instead of acting together, we start criticizing each other.”
Artsrun Hovhannisyan confirmed that we were able to deliver our messages to the external audience։ “I consider doubting the operative nature and the transparency of the work of our state agencies, SNCO, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be nothing but a professional ignorance, either they are ignorant or they deliberately resort to provocations, so that they please some bosses, maybe they try to collect likes so as to go against the current, I do not want to go into details about the motives even, but it is a fact that the departments are maximally transparent and I think the key reason of the problem is here. Flexible work is very important so as you work with all media individually, but the mutual attitude should refer to media outlets too. Transparency, efficiency, trust, mutual respect, I have always tried to keep these rules. I have served as the press secretary of the Ministry of Defense for 8 years, I have tried to do it year after year, of course, there are many processes hidden under each of them. For years we have tried to establish professional journalism, although it has also been criticized. We were accused of doing professional recruitment, but it is not like that, people came to learn something to distinguish ordinary artillery shelling from shelling, they differentiated the commanding divisional from the commanding division, and there are so many things. Those who did not go through it, perhaps consciously or unconsciously continue making such mistakes.”