YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenia’s print media made no significant progress this year–according to Hakob Avetikian–the editor-in-chief of the Azg newspaper. During the meeting at the National Press Club held within the framework of the "Mass Media & Democracy" program on December 21–Avetikian said the low circulation was because of the lax quality of the paper–and the low number of advertisers.
The low circulation is the result of people’s belief that journalists–newspapers and other mass media can be bought. Avetikian thinks that readers can easily guess the attitude of all mass media to one event or another–and become indifferent. The editors do not abide by any ethical standards for journalism–and often times journalists do not verify the information they receive. Some editors also want to provide their readers with intriguing articles–making young journalists concoct fictitious plots.
There is a clear division in Armenia’s media-"the so-called pro-government and opposition press. The press that is needed and that would be trusted by the reader–is lost." The tense situation the media is reminiscent of 1993-94. Avetikian said that many in the upper echelons of power want to silence the press–but their efforts are deterred by the president of the republic. If the president also changes his attitude towards the press–then–the editor of the Azg newspaper believes–the hard-won freedom of speech will be lost.
From 1993–the Azg newspaper lost its professionalism because of financial difficulties. Many experienced and professional journalists leave the paper because of low salaries–and the newspaper must hire inexperienced journalists who do not uphold the quality of the news–which then results in low sales (there are 3,000 copies printed today–as opposed to 40,000 in the early 1990’s).