Media training in Armenia: mission accomplished!
“Why did you all choose journalism?”
This was the first question we asked. Sitting in front of us, fifteen women and two men, all young people from Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, gathering in a hotel in Goris (southern Armenia). A week dedicated to an intensive reporting course was about to start.
We gave them five minutes to write their answers on a piece of paper before going through all of them: reporting injustices and abuses; documenting human rights violations; telling the story of my people… The latter was the one that more or less summed up the mood of the group. We also heard “I want to change the world.” We all agreed that “change” is always a keyword, especially in a country strangled by corruption and political crisis, an economic blockade and war, that of Karabakh, which rebounded last year killing thousands and displacing many more.
What sets us apart from our trainees is that they live on ground zero whereas we always have a return ticket in our pocket. We haven´t lost friends or relatives in that war, nor have we lost our home. We don’t have to bear that weight on our shoulders when we sit down to write or bend down to take photos. Should I omit facts and figures that can harm my people? How will it affect the morale of the troops if I imply that we are losing the war? Why create more enemies, aren´t they already too many?
We have heard these questions from the Libyan, Sahrawi or Kurdish trainees in our previous courses, and also from the Armenians. Okay, when the bombs hit schools and markets and you struggle to find shelter in a basement is not easy to keep your balance but, as a journalist, you have to. We always tell them to forget about “helping” their people through reporting; just tell the story as honestly as possible. Let the readers draw their own conclusions.
“Can an Armenian do proper journalism in Nagorno Karabakh?” a girl from Stepanakert (the capital of the enclave) asked us the first day. Six days later, she found the answer herself.
(More info about the workshop here)