There are two views of the press in Armenia today. The first holds that
the press is entirely free to report as it chooses. The second is that
the press is irresponsible. One thing is certain: In the absence of
censorship, Armenian officials resort to verbal pressure and sometimes
physical retribution, to knock journalists into line.
The collapse of Soviet-style journalism has brought a new type of
writer to the fore-youthful, enthusiastic, but often without training
or experience. A problem in Armenian journalism is the need to replace
Soviet-era training with new methods. Ruben A. Satyan says he assigns
new recruits at Vremya to senior editors for on-the-job training.
Astghik Gevorkian, chair of the refashioned Soviet-era Union of
Journalists, says journalism departments in state educational
institutions have been unable to adjust to new conditions because their
professors are holdovers from the Communist era.
A 1993 censor's log book, revealing the interplay between censors and
the cuts they made, has been circulating among Baku editors. Some
extracts from the purloined document:
³An article cut from Azadliq. It said that S. Husseinov demanded the
resignation of President Aliyev at his press conference at Ganja. If
you see such information in other newspapers, cut it out immediately.
At 25, Gunduz M. Tairli is a chain - smoking, ink - stained journalist.
His face is angular; his expression intense. He is also chief editor of
Azadliq, one of Baku's most popular newspapers, and the organ of the
opposition Popular Front party. Putting out Azadliq is a daily struggle
for Tairli, who labors 12 hours a day, six days a week for the
equivalent of $50 a month.