Armenian bloggers take part in Presidential press conference on equal terms with journalists

On July 21 a news conference was held at the presidential office marking the 100th day of Serzh Sarkissian’s presidency. 2 bloggers were invited to the press conference on equal terms with 38 journalists, making the number of invitees a symbolic 40. 40 questions were asked to the president – and bloggers were given the chance to get answers to 1 question each, on equal terms with journalists. In fact, considering that some pro-opposition media weren’t invited, including “Haykakan Zhamanak” newspaper which has the highest circulation among dailies in Armenia (the print-run is over 10,000 copies), the invited bloggers were ‘even more equal’ than some journalists. The precedent is surely unprecedented not only in Armenia, but accross most countries of the world.

It has to be said that Serzh Sargsyan had a blog established on his behalf even before he was sworn in as president of Armenia, collecting several hundred questions from Armenian bloggers on the shaky political situation after the disputed presidential elections held in February and the violent clashes between the opposition supporters and the police forces in capital Yerevan on March 1. With the initiative of Akunamatata_Ser, who remembered that back in March President Sargsyan had promised to answer the questions of bloggers again on his 100th day of presidency, around 50 questions were collected. As the blogger reports in another entry.

It turned out that the people on the helms of government actually look after us and even follow us. Today akunamatata_ser & pigh were invited to the presidential palace!!!!!! It turned out the fact that we remember and don’t forget the promises to bloggers hasn’t slipped the eye of the ‘big brother’

In an excited entry RealArmenia welcomes the participation of Armenian bloggers in the press conference, noteing, that “Armenia ,so far,becomes one of the rare country where the bloggers are going to be equal to journalists” and congratulating Sergey Chamanyan (akunamatata_ser) and Tigran Kocharyan (pigh) for the honor.

Not all accepted the news with the same type of excitement. An arrey of criticism and arguments broke out in the Armenian blogosphere.Nazarian remarked, that “The invited were palace bloggers serving the needs of the regime. The questions they asked obviously were pro-regime.Unzipped went further, wondering “may be the real intention behind recent close engagements of presidential staff with few pro-government bloggers is to discredit blogs/blogging in the eyes of population, in general, from the beginning, without even allowing their further development.” Tumanyan has even looked forward 70 years and created a short negative-fantasy story in the best traditions of Orwell’s 1984.

Veteran journalist Mark Grigorian has initiated a more theoretical discussion on the acceptability of inviting bloggers, i.e. non-professional journalists to a press-conference, which pre-supposes at least a certain degree of professionalism. Mark Grigorian speculates, that although the invited bloggers have around the same numbers of readers as some newspapers, the blogs are still should not be considered as mass media:

The blog is not updated regularly (one day a blog might have several entries, on another days – none at all), the blogger might not necissarily be the author of information published on the blog, and the blog might not always contain inormation — we know that often blog entries are just photos or a link to a music video on YouTube, etc.

Hence blogging requires other skills, then those necessary for working in Mass Media. And that was perfectly illustrated on Armenian president’s press conference.

Former journalist and media professional Ogostos is also not impressed:

There is no logic in the appearance of bloggers in a presidential press-conference []. If presidential spin-doctors consider bloggers full-fledged players in the information field and want to demonstrate their “transparency” by inviting bloggers, they should be aware, that this “transparency” is fully blown-up by the absence of pro-opposition journalists – who are undoubtedly NO LESS FULL-FLEDGED PLAYERS. If the presidential sprin-doctors view bloggers as civil-society, they should also invite other members of civil society and call it public consultations or something else, instead of inviting a press-conference.

In response to the wave of criticism, Pigh makes some valid points, saying he doesn’t respect most journalists because of their “unscrupulousness, non-professionalism and venal practices” and draws the picture of the experienced blogger, who has no editor slowing down and stopping from publishing any information, as there’s no salary involved at the end of the month. The blogger says his motive to attend the press-conference was to promote blogging and blogosphere, and he beleives the objective was reached. “Take it easy, people”, Pigh tells his critics, summerizing the acheivements:

Dear bloggers. It is so cool that we, positionists and oppositionsists, have stepped on the feet of journalists with our blogs. And even with our professionalism. I personally am flattered to see, that the number of my blog’s pageviews surpasses 90 percent of printruns of Armenian newspapers. It is great to be able to enter the blog, see a post and be able to express your agreement disagreement (instead of running to the courts and demanding refutation in the newspapers). [] Virtual reality is slowly, but surely stepping on the feet of printed press. Progress, has slowly but surely penetrated here as well.

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65 thoughts on “Armenian bloggers take part in Presidential press conference on equal terms with journalists

  1. That’s a long post, Observer, and yet you did not make room for the heart of the matter: When given this rare opportunity to personally meet with the head of their government, what questions did these two bloggers manage to ask? Were they incisive, journalistic questions, or were they simply sensationalistic, inappropriate softballs thrown down the middle of the plate simply to curry favor? Nazarian and Falcon-45 included these questions in their posts, and yet you left them out. Once again the spotlight is shown on the spectacular aspects of a situation, the presence of bloggers (!!!) at a press conference, when the important thing (content) is pushed aside.

    As far as Pigh’s “page views” goes, well, lots of people enjoy pop culture, they enjoy entertainment and going to circuses, but more circuses aren’t what’s needed in Armenia, bread is more important, and to confuse the two does not help the country. So why not put up the questions and the answers, and then your blog readers can decide for themselves whether this is journalism or fodder.

  2. You didn’t mention, that more than 50 questions were collected by Korenlij Glas to send them to the President, and not for press-conference.

  3. Guys, with due respect, the content is not relevant. Pro-government journalists ask 100s of idiotic questions pleasant to the authorities all the time. Pro-opposition journalists don’t get invited to such conferences all the time. That is not relevant. What is relevant – you will ask? The fact that the authorities are so naive to think they can control the uncontrollable. And while I see dangers, I also see opportunities.

  4. Ani – Bloggers are not journalists and they shouldn’t be. Why? What is the point of discussing the quality of their questions? What else did you expect? Why do you think the questions asked by pro-government journalists were any better? No. In fact most questions asked at that press-conference were pre-arranged 2-3 days before the event, including the questions asked by the two Bloggers.

  5. Well, if the Elephant and the Lion King are going to trumpet their superior journalistic skills, then we should all see and judge them for ourselves. Inviting bloggers to the palace could conceivably open opportunities, but SS/RK likes to bet on sure things and make certain all the loose spaces get tightened up if at all possible.

  6. To MK – BTW yesterday I sent a letter to spokesman Mr. Farmanyan :) We started negotiations – I will inform you later – it`s very funny, whats going on between us :)

    To all- do not push the link big brother blog – it`s spreading viruses. Ditord – kick him out!

  7. Bloggers are not journalists and they shouldn’t be.

    Actually, this is not true. There are many journalists who are bloggers and in the West, blogging has become an acceptable format for journalists and publications to use.

    However, bloggers don’t have to be journalists, and in many cases — especially in countries such as Armenia — I’m glad that’s the case.

    However, at the moment, the argument that is waging is reflective of the general issues facing the local media at the moment.

    Instead, I’m more interested in how blogs can be used to get exposure for those groups who are not being given a voice — or who are misrepresented — in the mainstream media.

    There’s also the issue of what I would argue is now the majority voice — those who are tired of the constant tit-for-tat battles going on between polarized groups on the extremities of the political spectrum.

    Nevertheless, an important precedent was set — although for likely obvious reasons — and now the matter is to ask why both prominent journalists and bloggers shouldn’t also be given access.

    Nothing is perfect here on the opposition side or the government’s. However, when an avenue is made available for others to use we should seize the opportunity and only when nothing happens — i.e. say, Observer and Kornelij being invited — is it obvious that we can discount such initiatives.

    Kornelij has taken the right approach to this matter by sending a letter to Farmanyan. I’m waiting to hear what the response is. However, what is most significant, perhaps, is that the radical opposition used blogs and other online mediums very effectively indeed (but also with control).

    Now, the government is fighting back. As I said, depending on what the outcome of the “negotiations” occurring with Kornelij is, this is quite an opportunity as Ditord says. If nothing comes out of it then yes, we can all be concerned.

    Still, at least this approach for now is better than blocking blogs. I dare say that the opening up of such press conferences to bloggers is also as a result of uzogh, akunamatata_ser and pigh who have argued their case for inclusion.

    Now, we need to work on that to allow others access, but I wouldn’t expect, for example, a Hima activist to be allowed in. I would, however, expect similar access for Ditord and Kornelij.

  8. Ditord jan,I think,the invitation of 2 pro-state bloggers to press-conference was very good if we consider promotional aspect of blogging.Like soap action was or blogs work during emergency situation. At least,now,blogging become part of information field.
    Btw,thinking about histerical reactions of pro-levon medias(3 of them were present there:A1plus,Aravot,Regnum) I would like to mention again the low level of professionalism there. And complete absence of it in Chorrord Ishkhanutyun and Hajkakan Zhamanak. Chief editor of Aravot even mentioned that he is very far from Internet,imagine,editor of popular newspaper has no idea about internet?! Hah!!!
    I hope also that next time other bloggers would be invited also,or Serzh will do meeting with blogging community.
    At the end one questions. Why Levon ,Raffi and other opposition leaders do not want to invite bloggers to their press-conference? With great pleasure I ‘ll participate there.
    Why all prolevon media are cursing me and Sergey and do not proposing any other fresh ideas?

  9. Tigran, not that you asked me those questions, but I think the main point is highlighted well in your comment — will other reputable but perhaps oppositional bloggers be invited to future press conferences. And your other point is also valid. Will other political figures also do the same with bloggers in general. However, the matter for now is one of control. i.e. I can imagine Ter-Petrossian and others inviting their own bloggers (who also worked as part of the campaign team) just as Sargsyan will invite pro-government bloggers.

    What remains to be seen is whether other bloggers will be allowed access by either even if they are not considered loyal. However, I also think the point about the low level of journalism here in Armenia is relevant. I remember, for example, talking to IWPR’s Tom de Waal about blogs before the 2007 parliamentary election here. His response was muted and along the lines of bloggers don’t check their facts and are too opinionated, biased and polarized.

    My response was, “have you actually seen the Armenian print media? You just described the situation there.”

    Anyway, the issue of credibility does affect blogs as much as it does the online and traditional media. Usually, it’s a joke. For the sake of both, we need a code of ethics, clear policies on not allowing hate speech, intimidation and libel in comments in order for the medium to gain respectability and to really give the media here a run for its money.

    If that happens — and I hope that it can — perhaps the online and print media especially will have to clean up its act. Blogs won’t replace the media, but they can supplement them and in some cases call them to account as you pointed out. Meanwhile, I would suggest all bloggers read the following and consider the document as a good set of guidelines.

    http://www.arabmediasociety.com/UserFiles/Ten%20steps%20to%20citizen%20journalism%20online.pdf

    I’m glad to see that commenting has become more restrained of late which is something to be welcomed. I’m also not going to criticize the inclusion of two bloggers at a presidential press conference until a time when it becomes obvious that other prominent bloggers who maintain a certain quality standard on their own blogs are omitted for future occasions.

  10. Tigran jan – the invitation of bloggers was a good thing – full stop. I take it as an achievement, regardless the political orientation or questions you and Sergey asked.

    There is something else that I am worried about – and I just gave interview to “Zhamanak-Yerevan” about it – although I’m not sure my ideas were duly understood.

    The problem is:
    a. Serzh Sargsyan is trying to control the blogosphere without understanding what it is b. A message is sent out to journalists – saying that the authorities don’t expect them to be professional, but they instead expect journalists to ask questions like the ones you and Sergey asked, which are highly subjective, non-informative, directional and non-professional questions.
    c. An attempt is made to create a process, using which the authorities can always get the type of questions they like, but present it as the ‘voice of the society’ or ‘voice of the young people’ or ‘voice of the internet’ – i.e. – show how democratic and transparent they are, when in fact they aren’t at all.

    In fact – you and Sergey had willingly become tools in this game, in the hands of the authorities. Maybe you knew it and did it willingly, maybe you didn’t? I don’t know – and I’m expecting your response to this.

  11. And one more thing – as a blogger – it is your right to ask such questions – I fully accept and welcome that. Being subjective and non-professional is the key thing about blogging. It is in fact the best thing about it. However, the function of a blog is quite different from that of Mass Media. Mass media is selling a product – information, which is something the society should find useful enough to pay for or interesting enough to watch and indirectly pay for it via advertisement.

    Blogs are individual media – which are hobbies and a way for bloggers to feel important or give themselves importance. Most Armenian blogs have no function of trying to prepare an information product for the society.

    A press-conference is a tool geared towards preparing a useful information product for the society. Via a press-conference the president in this case was trying to ‘sell’ his points of view, and the function of journalists present was to filter out the lies and exaggerations and useless bits, and make sure, that they only ‘buy’ the stuff the society needs and will pay for. Introducing the blogger component there is certainly good. However, the questions you asked were pre-selected by Mr. Farmanyan (Sergey can confirm this), so it means, you only served one side of the equation – your only function there was to help the president ‘sell’ his idea. That’s what I mean talking about becoming a tool.

    Again – don’t get me wrong. This is not a bad thing. You have your agenda /goals / personal gains in this. Meanwhile – you were also helping promote blogosphere, blogging. Meanwhile – you were creating an interesting precedent.

  12. Everyone is trying to control the Internet. Ter-Petrossian’s people did it up until now, and the government is responding. Unfortunately, the problem has been is that blogs as a whole have been seen as being reflective of the same type of polarization evident in the mass media and civil society. Soon I suppose others will be involved in trying to control the Internet. Indeed, up until the presidential election it was seen as the bastion of the pro-opposition or “independent” media.

    What we need instead of all this talk is a clearly defined set of ethics and quality that does not exist in most media outlets. I also suggest that neither civil society or the mass media is “independent” as neither if financially self-sustainable and instead reliant on government, economic or international donors and sponsors. Meanwhile, Serge can’t control the blogosphere and initiatives like this won’t work just as they don’t with the print media.

    Instead, I’d like to see bloggers adopt higher standards — regardless of their political affiliation — and let their readers decide. However, if the government is to allow pigh and akunamatata_ser into press conferences they should also let Kornelij and Ditord. I think this last issue is the most important, but if they don’t, Serge won’t and can’t control the Internet. This is not something that can be controlled except by actual censorship and the intimidation of or arrest of bloggers.

    Anyway, I just see this latest event as being just a counter to the use of blogs by Ter-Petrossian’s side. In both cases, I also think the actual point has been missed. Blogs simply reflect the same polarized views and partisan positions already present through the online and print media. Where blogs should now be heading is to empower minority voices not represented in either (unless usually paid for) and, I’d argue, the majority who have been denied the right to their own opinion and mediums for expressing it by both sides.

  13. Pingback: Armenia.Presidential press conference. Reaction from blogosphere. « Realarmenia’s Weblog

  14. Artur jan.
    One point. You wrote that Serge tries to control Internet,blogs?
    How? What do you think,if people working there have more or less clear impression of blogging do they not realize that Internet is uncontrolable.
    What is still frustrating this labeling,pro-president,president-managed bloggers.
    First of all,you know it for sure ,me and Sergey have the most popular(by rating,number of readers,visitnig,) blogs in Russian blogosphere.
    Second,4 bloggers were collectiing questions beacause of the promise of President to answer again on the questions after 100 days of presidency. I would be very glad if kornelij or ahousekeeper also invited there. Why they invite omnly me and Sergej let’s ask Farmanyan ?
    I still think that my question was quite interesting and will insist on it:) Because everytime I started to be bored by this allow-not-allow games among opposition-police-municipality.
    For your question Artur jan
    -May be they used me for their intersts,I have no idea,but on the other hand,I got also a lot from this conference. We ,bloggers,got a lot from it.
    Remember,1 of march in armenian -based blogs. Silence,complete silence,everyone was thinking write or not,emergency situation and Pigh who like elephant wrote-I don’t care about emergency,and will write everything what I want?
    After that the blogs in Armenia becomes most informative resourse.
    Soap action.
    Onnik,Ditord,bekaisa,aramazd,pigh,akunamatata-ser,ahousekeeper,kornelij,mk and others,we are the pioneers of blogging in armenia,and we are unpaid locomotives of penetrating blogging in information fielad. Despite of havinG DIFFERENT views we are enthusiasts of it in Armenia. So far,let’s go far.
    Forward,Blogostan!!!

    P.S. If I spent time on something this something should have any results.
    I would never knew when starting my blog in 2005 I would be present in presidential conference,chief-editor of Aravot will devote me editorial column and etc.
    For me,the man who consider blog as a hobby ,haven’t paid any money for that,it’s really cool:)))))

  15. Onnik
    Probably you wouldn’t knoW about collection of question in Livejournal otherwise you also could present your points and probably invited to conference. The same for Artur.
    Once more,we were invited not for being pro or contra bloggers,but because of action of collecting questions.
    Onnik ,as I understood there are many people working in presidential office who had quite nice idea about what is going on in Internet,and,especially in blogosphere.

  16. Tigran,

    You have some valid points, and it would be nice to think that your foot in the door would cause it to open wider. That being said, you need to understand that you and the blogging community were being played by the administration, just as Artur outlined in his comment.

    In America there is a concept (a racial one, but it can be reapplied) called “the house Negro.” I’ll include the link here to the Malcolm X speech addressing it.
    http://www.iowalakes.edu/directories/faculty/burns/informative/Malcolm_X's_House-Field_Negro_speech.htm

    The “house Negro” becomes included in a situation to give the appearance of openness while at the same time excluding others who cannot absolutely be depended upon, who may do something unexpected. When you so openly crave the attention, crave the popularity, and are flattered by this invitation, then you can be counted on not to say something that might make that happy personal situation evaporate. Perhaps they included you in the press conference to bind you a bit more closely to them, to make sure that they can count on you? So if you want, be happy and proud, but understand the dangers if you choose not to be co-opted: if you truly want to be an independent thinker, then that pat you got on the head can turn into something else really quick.

  17. To ivite bloggers to Press conference (whether pro-government or pro-oppostion) is just a STUPID idea, that was invented by Sezh’s new staff, like Levon Martirosyan and Farmanyan.

    I have never seen or heard anything like this in any other country. This is just when people (serzh’s staff) now something (about blogging and bloggers) and want to inflate that something and represent big thing to amaze the others.

    This idea of inviting bloggers was ver immature. It does not matter the quality of the bloggers or the quality of todays journalists, it just does not matter.

    The press conference of the president is official activity, and nowere in the world in the official activities the bloggers take part.

    Wake up Armenians and even do not discuss this issue anymore. Some of you try to say that it was good idea, at least prmoting the blogosphere (there many other ways to promote this), some of you argue that the bloggers were pro-government and the questions were selected to please the president. WHY TO ARGUE OVER THE STUPID STEP that the President and his staff has done.

    Couple of words to Observer.

    Everytime I am amazed about your so called “indepndence”, which looks like JAILAM’s steps. You pick couple of words from both sides (pro and con), and represent as an article? You even do not pay attention how one-sided you are. Of course you can say if you do not like to not come to my blog. But I am coming and posting my comments to amend you, and make sure that the next time you are at least a little more independent.

    If you have created an article about blogger’s participation in the press conference of the president, you at least had to state what questions were asked by thee bloggeres, and then evaluate the quality of the questions, and the talk about promoting blogosphere by the unprecedented invitation.

    And at the and.

    It is not the presidents job to promote blogging. He has many other important thing to do. First of all, our president and his staff has to think twice before doing something.

  18. “Why Levon ,Raffi and other opposition leaders do not want to invite bloggers to their press-conference? ”
    With all due respect, because you have no business being there. Tigran, let’s not kid ourselves. You were there for a very specific reason to ask a very specific question; if you intended to ask the opposite, say, for the sake of argument, why are the municipality and the police infringing on people’s constitutional right to assembly and rallies, you wouldn’t be allowed within 50 miles of the Presidential “palace”.

    And actually going back to content, neither yours or the other character’s questions seemed appropriate since Serjh is neither the mayor nor the chief of police, and hence has no jurisdiction over the conduct, the location, and/or the banning of rallies. In that context, the questions were absolutely absurd; you can congratulate yourself all you want, but you did a huge disservice to the development of blogs.

    You were billed as a “representative of Armenian blogosphere” and I’m going to be honest, you didn’t carry the mantle too well. I’m with Onnik here; the blogs need to rise above the pettiness of the so-called mainstream “media”. Everyone else’s lack of professionalism doesn’t excuse yours; when even public TV doesn’t amount to anything more than tabloid reporting (don’t even get me started on print media), the blogs have a huge opportunity to set an example. I’m afraid with your insightful (no doubt “ինքնաբուխ”) questions one such opportunity was missed.

  19. Quite interesting discussion! I thank you all too much for your comments! I see that President Sargsyan’s recent press conference has raised enormous interest amongst the bloggers. I follow your updates and comments on it regularly. It makes me think of deepening cooperation with you! Will appreciate your ideas and recommendations on how we can make it more effective! My only desire is to give voice to you and nothing else!

    Thanks, Samvel Farmanyan

  20. Relax its just some bloggers , its great that the goverment has realized the existence of Internet and its importents ,,,, personaly i trust a blogger then a journalist writting in Armenia , they are nothing then whores working for money from the Oligarchs. Now some law and order would bee nice !

  21. To ivite bloggers to Press conference (whether pro-government or pro-oppostion) is just a STUPID idea, that was invented by Sezh’s new staff, like Levon Martirosyan and Farmanyan.

    I have never seen or heard anything like this in any other country. This is just when people (serzh’s staff) now something (about blogging and bloggers) and want to inflate that something and represent big thing to amaze the others.

    Hay, bloggers are invited to press conferences in other countries. Indeed, political parties have been accredited for press conferences in England, France and the U.S. There is also one accredited blogger at the United Nations in New York. Bush has even convened a meeting with pro-administration military bloggers and one of the big issues among political bloggers the world over is actually to be able to attend press conferences.

    It’s just in the Armenian blogging world. many bloggers are unaware of the actual situation because as with everything else we prefer to isolate ourself from the outside world and never take into account global trends. Of course, on the other hand, there have also been cases in developing countries where the move is to PREVENT bloggers from getting involved in campaigns during elections, for example.

    Fact is, however, that political forces the world over are aware of the power of blogs and in many cases are allowing them to attend press conferences. Anyway, for the blogging world to develop here in Armenia we need to be aware of what’s happening outside, and it’s quite clear that we don’t.

    There are probably many more examples which you can find by searching in Google. Therefore, I welcome the inclusion of bloggers in this press conference, but agree that we need it opened up to others who have shown themselves to be perhaps oppositional, but also able to stick to what can be considered a standard set of ethics and professionalism.

    This perhaps is the main issue needing to be resolved with Armenian blogs — ethics, fact-checking and professionalism — but it also applies to the mainstream media so perhaps we can all set an example if it’s not to found elsewhere among non-blogging journalists? To date, the issue surrounding bloggers attending press conferences in the West as to do with the higher quality of the print and broadcast media.

    Here in Armenia, however, that’s not really an issue at all. Unfortunately.

  22. In your posting you forget to mention the questions.
    What were the questions that’s the whole point ? They had strong resemblance to questions that would come out in a Bavarian beer hall in yearly 1930s or found in the pages of ‘Mein kampf’.

    The substance is more important than the appearance.
    In both case it was a big joke.

    n.b
    re the appearance how 2 individuals could act on behalf of the whole blogosphere.

  23. Ironically, had Ter-Petrossian invited pro-opposition bloggers to a press conference I daresay that some in this comments thread would be applauding the move as progressive and revolutionary in opening up the independent media field. Probably, because it’s Serge and pro-government bloggers, the reaction is negative.

    In actual fact, neither is okay. Prominent and credible bloggers should be considered eligible in my opinion by all political forces. Anyway, here’s an interesting story from 2005 about the first blogger to be allowed to attend White House briefings and press conferences. Since then, others have been allowed in.

    White House Approves Pass for Blogger
    New York Times, March 7, 2005

    Another signal moment for bloggers is to occur this morning, when Garrett M. Graff, who writes a blog about the news media in Washington, is to be ushered into the White House briefing room to attend the daily press “gaggle.”

    Mr. Graff, 23, may be the first blogger in the short history of the medium to be granted a daily White House pass for the specific purpose of writing a blog, or Web log. A White House spokesman said yesterday that he believed Mr. Graff was the first blogger to be given credentials.

    […]

    Increasingly, bloggers are penetrating the preserves of the mainstream news media. They have secured seats on campaign planes, at political conventions and in presidential debates, and have become a driving force in news events themselves.

    Probably, mainstream journalists who really don’t have much to be proud of in Armenia also feel threatened by the rise of new online media or at the very least, don’t understand it. There are still issues with bloggers, of course, but as the media here is lousy, I say that it’s not a step backwards by allowing bloggers to attend in Armenia. In fact, it might even be an advance and force other journalists to finally get their act together.

  24. payqar, issues understood which is why I think both Ditord and I (and others?) would agree that others need to be accredited too. Again, well done Kornelij for taking up the issue with Farmanyan. It will only be when there’s refusal to do so that we have reason to really criticize the move. Until then, we should welcome the move, but push for more inclusion.

  25. Onnik
    I am afraid but there is nothing to welcome here. I don’t see anything constructive here. What happened already happened and it was pretty ugly.Especially when those questions were considered and even agreed upon in advance.
    It demonstrated the nature of the whole regime re-established after February 19th that is, totally and utterly illegitimate.

  26. Illegitimate and fascistic.
    Maybe the next will be: “Mr Sargsyan should not we build concentration for the opposition”?

  27. Note to Samvel Farmanyan:

    It’s not really the press conference that was of interest. If you want the press conference to be of interest, open it up to all journalists and let spontaneous questions be asked, not just something manufactured ahead of time that was approved by you. Potemkin villages are getting tiresome, and so are sideshows. Real questions, real answers, real movement, real change.

  28. “Ironically, had Ter-Petrossian invited pro-opposition bloggers to a press conference I daresay that some in this comments thread would be applauding the move as progressive and revolutionary in opening up the independent media field.”

    I honestly don’t see him ever doing this. The only reason Farmanyan invited bloggers was to create an illusion of fairness and respect for free speech and to compensate for the fact that half a dozen of prominent opposition papers (including the one with most circulation) weren’t invited.
    Ter-Petrosyan doesn’t need to do this; media that criticize him, such as Hayots Ashxarh, H1 and others are already there for his pressers. I realize this wasn’t the case when he was president, but it is now. Incidentally, one of the reasons given for not inviting the opposition papers is their “lack of professionalism”, to which I say, have you picked up “Hayots Asxharh” lately? Or have you paid attention to the questions H1 asks? Tatevik Nalbandyan actually asked LTP, “Եւ մի փոքրիկ հարց, մի փոքր անհարմարավետության զգացում չե՞ք ունենում, երբ Ձեզ դիմում են «պարոն նախագահ» բառերով:”

  29. Also Mr. Farmanyan, since we have your attention,

    Nazarian has put up the text of the Constitution of Armenia here http://armeniaconstitution.blogspot.com/

    Perhaps you should have your bosses read this document, it is quite interesting! And it seems they haven’t read it lately, since of the first 13 Articles, only Nos. 12 and 13 (and some might question no. 12) are actually being followed by the administration. Isn’t this illegal? And as for the rest of the articles, the news really isn’t any better…

  30. “It’s just in the Armenian blogging world. many bloggers are unaware of the actual situation because as with everything else we prefer to isolate ourself from the outside world and never take into account global trends.”

    Onnik another reason many of the Armenian bloggers are unaware of what is happening on the ground is because…drum roll…they are not on the ground. Many of the most prolific (pro-Levon, though I am sure they do not have a monopoly here) bloggers are in the US or Russia and “report” on hearsay etc.

    Second-hand blogging, I guess you could call it.

  31. A third-world dictator gets a couple of sycophants to spread propaganda for him and we are supposed to be thankful because the sycophants in question have–blogs?

    We are supposed to be thankful to Sargsyan for what? His benevolence? Are you, Observer, saying that we should to pay homage to the king? Sargsyan did what he did because his hand was forced by the power of bloggers. Sargsyan was bowing to the power of blogs because he has to. He can’t control bloggers, so he has to create the impression that he is supported by them. To actually express gratitude for this move by Sargsyan is to take a sign of weakness on his part and turn it into sign of strength.

    Blogs have power. Not a lot, but some. In the United States, a conglomeration of left-leaning sites like Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, Atrios and so on, backed-up by a veritable army of smaller sites have, undeniably, affected elections–national and local. Historically, everybody realized that the blogs had arrived when blogger support for Ned Lamont in Connecticut’s ’06 senatorial races forced Joe Lieberman to declare himself an independent. Lieberman won the elections, but everyone knows that his career as a politician is pretty much over, now that everything the blogs said about him has turned out to be true.

    Blogs have power, and Sargsyan knows it. It doesn’t matter what Sargsyan does; he is irrelevant, and he can not stop the truth from coming out. And while we are on the topic of truth, you should try to remember that “objectivity” isn’t parroting every viewpoint that is expressed about a topic, mixing them all up into witless, banal mass; “objectivity” is an enlightenment value which presupposes a thinking subject who observes empirical facts and makes decisions based on reason. To take an illusion at face value is to fail to meet the standards of even this simple philosophy.

    And here is where the truth comes out. Some look at blogging as a part of their profession: their goal is to attract as many readers as possible; consequently, they make a laundry list of what everybody wants to hear and periodically repeat that laundry list on their blogs, making sure that there isn’t a boot in the house that hasn’t been licked. Fair enough. You can be who you want to be. What is annoying, however, is when these merchants start preaching about “objectivity,” trying to palm off their banal business-plan as some kind of truth that all should subscribe to. Don’t buy the bullshit: Thinking for oneself and having an opinion is far more valuable than peddling “objectivity.”

    What the Armenian community needs isn’t mealy-mouthed people whose main goal is to not offend; what the Armenian community needs is people who know what they want and aren’t afraid to fight for it.

  32. To Onnik

    Again, I have never heard that any country’s president invites bloggers to his Press conference.

    If you want to research go and do it yourself.

    It is different when president or any official meets ONLY with bloggers, but to invite them to the PRESS Conference alongside with mainstream media it is STUPID, and it has never happened.

    Who is blogger (good or bad, does not matter), who he/she represents? What kind of affiliation and responsibility he/she has? How trustworthy he/she is? Does he/she represents any LEGAL unit, to be called to question if he/she misstates and allures the word of the president?

    In international journalism there is DISTINCT difference between journalists and commentators. Commentators are just showmen. Journalists are information providers and analyzers.

    So, to invite BLOGGERS to the press conference of the president, which is an official activity of the president that represents whole country is very NAIVE and STUPID .

  33. Other stupid moves from president’s guys are

    1. The quality of the question.

    2. One-sidednes of the questions

    2. And the external appearance of the 2 bloggers that attended the press conference. Who told them that bloggers look like those 2 who attended the conference.

    This was just stupid medieval old (qaxqekni) semi-educated decision.

  34. Nice discussion here,Ditord jan.
    Levonakan,notarmeniabased commenters,as usual looks like hungry dogs:)
    Reactions from levonakans side could pe splited by 2 parts.
    1. Serzh is horrible and everything he does is horrible.
    2. pigh and akunamatata-ser are antilevonakan,so far,everything they do is wrong.
    Typical boshevik’s ideology and nihilism. No comments on them:)
    I really appreciate Onniks comments and completely agree with him.
    Onnik jan,first step is done,ice is broken,so far,let’s wait for the next step,I am sure,a that time most of the bloggers will have chance also to share their opinions with the state first persons.

  35. Sargsyan did what he did because his hand was forced by the power of bloggers. Sargsyan was bowing to the power of blogs because he has to.

    Armen, I welcome this move if they know let in others such as Kornelij.

    To Onnik

    Again, I have never heard that any country’s president invites bloggers to his Press conference.

    If you want to research go and do it yourself.

    Hay, I’ve already given you evidence that Bush and the White House allow bloggers in.

    No research to do my end. I’ve done it already. :-)

  36. To give context to the blogger Onnik mentioned (Garrett Graff), here’s a link to an article (and I’m taking it from FoxNews, just to be fair!)

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,149689,00.html

    But what’s really worth mentioning in the present context is that, first, Graff has excellent journalism credentials, and, second, the White House was forced into this move after American blogs had revealed that a conservative columnist had been given a White House pass under a pseudonym, and was asking planted questions. From Wikipedia entry (“Jeff Gannon”):

    Gannon first gained national attention during a presidential press conference on January 26, 2005, when he asked United States President George W. Bush a question that some in the press corps considered “so friendly it might have been planted.” Gannon routinely obtained daily passes to White House briefings, attending four Bush press conferences and appearing regularly at White House press briefings. Although he did not qualify for a Congressional press pass, Gannon was given daily passes to White House press briefings “after supplying his real name, date of birth and Social Security number.” Gannon came under public scrutiny for his lack of a journalistic background prior to his work with Talon and his involvement with various homosexual escort service websites using the professional name “Bulldog”.

    Well, as you can imagine, this was rather embarrassing for the White House! At least in Armenia, you KNOW the questions are planted!

  37. http://arzuni.livejournal.com/19768.html
    Այս շաբաթ Կենդանի Մատյանի հայկական սեգմենտը կրկին պատերազմական իրավիճակում էր: Երկու ամենամեծ լսարանն ունեցող բլոգների հեղինակները հրավիրվել էին ՀՀ Նախագահի 100 օրը ամփոփող ասուլիսին: Ամեն ինչից զատ ես անդրադառնում եմ այս իրադարձությանը մեծ հաճույքով, քանի որ իմ մատյանի առաջին գրառումներից մեկը նվիրված էր նրան որ մի օր բլոգները դառնալու են լուրջ դերակատարներ հայկական իրականության մեջ: Շատերն այն ժամանակ ինձ հետ համաձայն չէին, հիմա էլ շատերը ոչ միայն համաձայն չեն այլ նաեւ հողին են հավասարեցնում այդ երկու բլոգերներին, որ հանդգնել են ընդիմադիր հարցեր չտալ: Էդ մեկը չնայած ճիշտ են ասում, ձեզնից ինչ էր գնում ընդիմադիր, սուր, մորթող հարցեր տայիք էլի, պարզ էր չէ, որ միանգամից հերոսներ կդառնայիք…

    Իսկ եթե լուրջ, ապա մի պահ վերացեք ձեր անձնական քաղաքական հայացքներից եւ մտածեք երեւույքի մասին: Ինձ համար, կողքից նայող մարդու տեսանկյունից հեչ կարեւոր չի թե ով գնաց ու ինչ հարց տվեց:

    Իսկ դուք գիտեք, որ ասուլիսներին մասնակցող լրագրողների մի մեծ հատված հայկական գործակալություններ են ներկայացնում` Արկա, Արմինֆո, Արմենպրես, Մեդիամաքս… Գիտեք, որ նրանց բաժանորդների թիվը 30-100 է: Իսկ գիտեք, որ նրանց բաժանորդների 99 տոկոսը հայկական հեռուսաալիքներն ու թերթերն են, որոնք նույնպես թղթակիցներ են ունենում այդ ասուլիսներին: Գուցե նրանց արժի չհրավիրել ասուլիսների… Իրականում մեր աչքի առաջ լրատվամիջոց ասած գաղափարը փոխվում է, սակայն շատերը չեն ուզում տեսնել դա: Հիմա Ա1+ը եւ Պանարմենիանը, որ նույնպես կարծես չէին հրավիրվել ավելի լուրջ լրատվամիջոցներ են, քան շատուշատ տպագիր թերթեր:

    Հ.Գ. Ուզում եմ հատուկ մեկ անգամ էլ ընդգծել, որ չեմ պատրաստվում լինել Կենդանի Մատյանում ընթացող մարտական գործողությունների բարիկադների այս կամ այն կողմում: Տեղեկացում եմ, որ չեմ ճանաչում ասուլիսին մասնակցած երկու բլոգերներին: Ուղղակի վստահ եմ, որ բլոգը եթե ոչ այսօր ապա վաղը կարեւոր լրատվամիջոց է լինելու, ուզեք, թե չուզեք…

  38. Tigran, in a nutshell, Bolshevism is Leninist Marxism, rooted in a type of materialism, and beholden to Kant’s ethical imperative to treat others as an end in themselves, not as a means; nihilism, on the other hand, was born out of a critique of Kantian epistemology undertaken by Schopenhauer, which puts “truth” in quotes and doesn’t recognize good and evil, or ethics; therefore, you don’t know what you are talking about when you say, “typical bolshevik’s ideology and nihilism.”

    OK?

    Another thing. Judging by what you’ve written and the blog entry from arzuni that you’ve posted, there seems to exist in your mind a serious confusion between means and ends. You seem to think the fact that you lie to people and manipulate them is far less important than the circumstance that you lie and manipulate using the internet. Your thoughts are muddled. If a person kills another person, what is important is that a murder has taken place; it is pretty much irrelevant from an ethical standpoint whether the means of the murder was a knife, a gun, or a laser beam.

    Yet you and Sargsyan’s other minions are trying to promote the idea that the lying fiasco that was your presence on the scene was somehow indicative of “progress,” just because you were using a laptop that your sugar-daddy bought for you. So much bullshit has come out of Sargsyan’s and Kocharian’s mouthes that one can divide it into genres. This one in particular falls into the “progress” bullshit genre: “foreign investment” has skyrocketed, Armenia’s economy is growing in leaps and bounds, and, what do you know, Armenia is leading the world in the use of new technology.

    Conveniently for you, the blog entry from arzuni that you’ve reproduced calls you one of the most “popular” bloggers in Armenian. Far more people read your blog than other people’s blogs. It is, therefore, logical to state that, by going and acting like a tool for spreading the lies of a criminal, you’ve shown yourself to be an opportunist with no dignity in front of an audience far larger than anybody else could muster.

    Congratulations.

  39. boc :)))))))))))))))))))))))))))

    Tigran – if it wasn’t so funny I would delete your comment. Please stay more civilized in the future.

  40. Of course nazarianchik jan,you are right,as always
    So far,you can join to armenaker,take also your fetish Levon and spend fantastic time there:) You can even write there another constitution for locals and your Guru will translate it to all languages he knows.
    Hope,finally poor Nikol will find “imastun tceruk” who’ll help him to cross ocean and reach Peru. One Levon and 3 mikrolevon-so nice company:)
    Good luck,guys,life is beatiful:)

  41. Very funny, junior, telling me to go fuck myself in Russian. Do you have any real arguments or is your adolescent humor a sign that you don’t really have anything going on up there and that your dignity isn’t something worth defending, anyway?

    It’s hard to believe that the President of Armenia would invite filthy-mouthed juveniles like little Tigran to a–presidential–press conference. The man’s an utter dolt.

  42. Mr. nazarian – I just visited your and Tigran’s blogs. You confidently state that SS (I assume this is Serj Sargsyan) minions resort to vulgar language, but on your blog, you call the present and former president of Armenia sons of whores, complete with some contrived picture of Stalin, etc.

    While I think this is pretty immature, it is your blog and you can make fun of whomever you wish. Nevertheless, your point about Tigran’s language seems hypocritical, at best.

  43. Zhamanak.com has published an article on the ‘blogger press conference’. My first reaction upon being approached for an interview was to reject it, as I knew the newspaper will try to dig some dirt. Still – I decided to risk giving the real facts and making sure someone more biased doesn’t do it to cause a real war in the blogosphere. So I gave an interview to the journalist, and although the article is not as balanced as I expected given all the effort I spent on explaining the situation to her and insisting, that she should approach it very seriously, it is not that bad either:
    http://www.zhamanak.com/article/9914/

    At any rate, although I had really insisted, that she should also contact Pigh and Samvel Farmanyan, she has obviously avoided doing that.

  44. Tigran, I am delighted you didn’t also want me to go to Peru! Anyway, since you are insisting that your question is interesting, actually in a way I agree, if you had formed it differently. In that light, and since you didn’t actually get a real answer to your question, I am going to take your question seriously and so am posting something that I just came across that will answer it, If you want to learn more, you can go to the Wikipedia on Michel Foucault, and on his book “Discipline and Punish.” Enjoy!

    Concept of tightness/looseness and “popular illegalities” in totalitarian societies:

    The cultivation of these spaces constituted what Michel Foucault called “popular illegalities”: the tolerated, even necessary, nonenforcement of laws. “Sometimes,” according to Foucault, these popular illegalities “took the form of a massive general non-observance. . . . Sometimes it was a matter of laws gradually falling into abeyance, then suddenly being reactivated; sometimes of silent consent on the part of the authorities, neglect, or quite simply the actual impossibility of imposing the law and apprehending offenders.” Though enforcement may be relaxed or unofficially suspended, such laws necessarily remain on the books, able to be activated at any time at the discretion of the state.

    Foucault also insists that such popular illegalities were no less than the “conditions of existence” of the lowest in society: “The least favored strata of the population did not have, in principle, any privileges: but they benefited, within the margins of what was imposed on them by law and custom, from a space of tolerance, gained by force or obstinacy; and this space was for them so indispensable a condition of their existence that they were often ready to rise up and defend it.” Statutes and edicts … served a regulatory and repressive function—policing spaces as well as bodies and practices—and allowed the state to exercise its authority through alternating spans of tolerance and repression, also called tightness/looseness.

  45. Ditord, considering it’s Zhamanak Yerevan, I’d say that’s as unbiased as you’re going to get them, well done, sir. I’d venture a guess though that if contacted, pigh would offer them a trip to Peru and Farmanyan would suggest they learn how to be objective and professional like Hayots Ashxar and H1 before asking questions.

    Ani jan, don’t overwhelm them, let them digest the Constitution first.

  46. Following armenian ,pro-levonakan so-called “mass-media” I am waiting when they’ll find out that pigh and Samvel Farmanyan are twins:) Moreover,one day they could write that Farmanyan logged in in livejournal as pigh,put his questions and selected them:)
    My best regards to Peru’s small,but very proactive armenian diaspora:)

  47. Tigran, the word you are looking for is “dittoheads.” You and Farmanian aren’t twins, but echo-chamber-mates. Why, if you took your clothes off, you’d look like a lobotomy. And remember to alert your Dzerzhinski-ite handlers that there is a bug in your program: your happy-face production rate is set too high and the definition for “proactive” is wrong.

  48. I’m genuinely surprised at pigh’s reaction to criticism. Surely, after months of repression, you didn’t expect that inviting two staunchly pro-government, staunchly anti-levon bloggers to ask pre-determined absurd questions was going to impress anyone. That has to be a joke, and I can’t quite decide if you are in on it or are not.

  49. For all the personal mud-slinging going on, I think the blogger discussion shows how woefully inept the local media is. The opposition media is even more absurd and inept than the pro-state media, and I welcome any/all bloggers to participate in the realm traditionally occupied by journalists. I think this was observer’s original point: that it was less about the content of what the bloggers said and more that they were formally invited and involved. Sounds like a good start to me.

  50. AH, if the content doesn’t matter, if all the questions are approved and known ahead of time, then really it is not a press conference. Instead, it’s a theatrical performance called “The Press Conference,” with Serzh Sargsyan playing the role of “President” and everyone else playing the roles of “Journalists.” And if they are just playing roles, then it doesn’t matter if someone from the newspaper, or a blogger, or maybe the real elephant from the Yerevan zoo come to read their lines. In fact, it would be a better play if all the journalists were played by six year olds, because one of them would refuse the read the question and ask something else, like “Why isn’t the emperor wearing any clothes?”

    Anyway, if the journalists weren’t all terrified of losing their jobs if they asked real, extemporaneous questions, then the press conference would have value. As it is, we could all learn more by going to a real play–may I suggest Shakespeare’s “Richard III”?

  51. People jan!
    Be more constructive,avoid labeling,pls.
    I have 9-th dan in label-do, so far can put any kind of label on anyone.
    But I consider it as mindless,so let’s for the next time discuss in civil manner.
    With the respect to everybody here
    Tigran Kocharyan

  52. Tigran jan,
    People have raised valid points and concerns, without name-calling or labelling, and so far instead of addressign them you’ve responded with sending them to Peru. That you are pro-government or anti-levonakan isn’t a label, it’s a simple documentation of the slant of your writing. If you are neither, or if you consider either label offensive, that’s your issue.
    AH,
    This has nothing to do with bloggers being invited. There were questions needed to be asked, and they found people to ask them; either they ran out of pro-government media outlets, and didn’t want to breach one outlet-one question format, or all the others refused to ask the questions that the bloggers did. You are absolutely right; this sets a precendent. From now on, they have a bigger pool of actors to choose from to play journalists in their circus.

  53. That’s an interesting theory me. I don’t know how fast either side runs out of people, but it seems there is no shortage of journalists in Armenia willing to play partisan “journalism.”

    Having said that, I think the honest level of discussion on this blog shows that there are more than just circus clowns as you claim. There are many people, both pro- and anti-government who wish for a better journalistic level. As many have said, with a government like this, it is easy to be an oppositionist…conversely, with an opposition like this, it is easy to be pro-government.

  54. AH, you do the math. There were 40 outlets at the presser; I count three that can be termed oppositionist (i.e. don’t think LTP is the incarnation of the Devil who is a Turkish agent by day and a Jewish-Masonic conspirator by night): aravot, a1+ and regnum. That leaves a whopping 37 burning questions that need to be asked, 37 news outlets they need to find. Why not throw in two guys who aren’t journalists? What’s the difference?

    Look the opposition is far from ideal, but they are irrelevant in this discussion; even our ever creative prosecutors couldn’t find a connection. I think it is telling that people get THIS excited about bloggers getting to ask pre-determined, scripted questions about inane things that have absolutely nothing to do with Serjik’s 100 days in office or his responsibilities as President. This is what makes the “well they do it in the US!” argument so laughable. In the US, a scripted question from anyone is a major scandal; in Armenia, it’s seen as genuine progress because heaven all-mighty, it was asked by bloggers and not Haylur’s Tatevik.

    At any rate, with as Sharmazanov noted “rally season” all but over, time will tell whether the newfound liberal/libertarian streak of the ex-communist official who’s had a hand in every falsified election in Armenian history is going to a) last and b)really going to change things. I certainly hope so…

  55. Reading all the postings I concluded

    1. There are demagogic pro-governemnt supporters (probably not without a cause or directions from above) who are doing their JOB on blogs,

    2. There are some who really do not like Levon or Serz

    3. There are some who claim to be independent and objective bloggers, who really try to be objective, but after each word they use it is clear that THEY ARE TRYING in VEIN.

    So, there is no need to debate over no substance.

    One independent claims that blogger participated in White House conference, and it AUTOMATICALLY means that the same should be in Armenia, and it is OK.

    Ani, clearly explained how that blogger participated and what was the purpose of inviting that blogger.

    Again, do not argue over the stupid step that the “President” of Armenia did.

    Those who oppose Tigran Khachatryan need to take into account that this guy with his posts and remarks clearly shows the quality of his mind, and I can assume that he is “SOLD OUT” Pay attention I mentioned “SOLD OUT”, but not just sold.

    SOLD OUT item never exists anymore, so it useless to prove something or anything to SOLDOUTs

  56. Absolutely agree with Hay. Don’t pay attention to Tigran Kocharyan and these courtier bloggers like Pigh will become a part of armenian blogospхere history. Unfortunately but their are a part of that history with negative trace.

  57. For hay and ardaramet
    Another brave diasporian guys:)))
    In russian there is a nice idiom concerning all the situation.
    Собака лает,караван идет.

    Good luck:)

  58. Собака лает,караван идет

    This is very true for SOLD-OUTs.

  59. Hay
    You are so invisible as a blogger for me,that’s I’ll not even continue to comment your BS.
    With all my disagreement with Nazarian’s position on the some issue I respect him,’cause he is real blogger and hasn’t devoted himself and his blog to barking on elephants.
    For people like you,there are interesting sites-pupsik.ru,tyotki.ru,go there and enjoy yourself.
    Buy.

  60. Guys – I think it’s about time you stop this pointless discussion. I’ve been away from Armenia and my blog, and coming back, I’m finding this very unpleasant.

  61. Thought you’d all like to know that a Huffington Post blogger was one of the journalists that Obama called on in his first press conference:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-bergthold/obama-calls-on-huffington_b_165448.html

    Go, Sam Stein! One of the handful of reporters who were called upon to ask a question at President Obama’s first press conference was Sam Stein of the Huffington Post.

    His question was whether or not Obama supported the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in order to prosecute Bush administration officials who broke the law during the past eight years. Obama did not admit to having read Senator Leahy’s proposal, but he did reinforce his opposition to torture and his support for the rule of law. It sounded like he’d rather not go down that road, but he didn’t absolutely rule it out.
    […]
    Even CNN has acknowledged that calling on Sam Stein was a “first” for a presidential news conference. It’s a new age, folks!

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