Satik Seyranyan plans to make Union of Journalists of Armenia a structure playing key role for solution of issues
YEREVAN, MARCH 6, ARMENPRESS. The Union of Journalists of Armenia is going to make a number of changes in the nearest future. The structure is going to reveal the sector’s internal problems and will try to solve them, will cooperate also with the law agencies for providing support to journalists in case of different problems.
Satik Seyranyan – President of the Union of Journalists of Armenia, gave an interview to ARMENPRESS talking about the upcoming activities.
-Mrs. Seyranyan, during the congress you outlined some problems facing the Union, but now, when you have a chance to see them inside the structure, what problems will you identify?
-At the moment major renovation works are taking place in the Union. The employees were not provided even with elementary conditions. In this technological era there was only one computer and was in a very poor condition. The secretary was working by this computer. There was even no electronic accounting. In line with the renovation works, we also observe the accounting, all documents. As I earlier wanted, we have invited an audit company. The situation was very bad, the whole document circulation has been carried out through papers. At the moment we also try to acquire some documents from the cadastre and to recover some of them. This is quite a thorough and large-scale work. There are numerous organizational issues which we are trying to solve.
At present we are also holding talks with the tenants occupying the Union’s area. Contracts with quite bad terms have been signed which are against the Union’s interests. But if we do not reach a common conclusion, it is possible we will solve the issues through judicial procedures. The Union has property opportunities, but, unfortunately, only the tenants used them.
-What can you say about the human resources?
-As I mentioned during the congress, as a nominated candidate I didn’t know the exact number of members of the Union. The former leadership mentioned different numbers. Different creative unions also face this problem. And for this purpose we have implemented a human resource assessment. Numerous numbers are mentioned, but it was revealed that the Union had 114 members. According to the current charter, if the member of the Union didn’t pay the membership fee for two consecutive years, he/she is withdrawn from the membership. And it was revealed that there were people who died long ago, but their name was still in the list, there were also people who didn’t know that they haven’t paid the fee for 10 years. But these people have no fault, they should be notified on time. And as the Union hadn’t played any role in their creative life, they didn’t know that it’s time for paying the membership fee. We are also trying to regulate this so that the members will be notified online and or by other ways. We have called everyone. They were proposed to pay the fee and restore their membership. The staff has been reduced, and we have not formed a new staff yet.
-During the congress you said that the Union’s building is more associated with a rumor club. What steps are you going to take to eliminate this opinion?
-I think this issue must be settled in two ways. Firstly, the reputation of the Union of Journalists should be increased. And this must be done not only through direct statements, but practical steps. Many of my colleagues with an experience in journalism are not a member of the Union. And they are going to be included in the Union in the near future. We will hold an extraordinary congress in June, and the issue of the charter will be discussed. The Union’s charter will be in accordance with the new law on ‘NGOs’, some functions will also be added. A number of active journalists will also attend it. I attach great importance to their active participation, I cannot do anything alone. We will propose numerous programs and can change a lot together with the professionals of the field.
-You said you want to propose new programs. What new functions will the Union have? What significant steps will be taken for journalists?
-First of all, we are going to create an ethics commission with the participation of the professionals of the field. There are numerous internal problems in the sector which need to be settled. We will try to settle our internal issues. We have a lot of works to do in terms of protecting the working conditions and rights of journalists.
The school of young journalists will operate also for journalists. We will try to hold seminars, master classes with the participation of different media experts from Armenia and abroad. At the moment we also try to understand in which professions in the journalist field there is a need for master classes so that we will be able to raise relevant issues. Previously, this school faced many financial and organizational issues.
-Mrs. Seyranyan, after being elected you stated that you will sign a contract with a law company or an individual lawyer who will deal with cases obstructing the activity of journalists. What works have been carried out on this path?
-As I said, we will certainly cooperate with the law offices aimed at providing assistance to journalists in case of issues between different structures and journalists. There have been preliminary talks with the offices, but a final decision with which company the Union will cooperate has not been made yet.
-Recently you met with Mayor of Yerevan Taron Margaryan to discuss his instruction on making proposals for regulating the journalists’ work in the Municipality. It seems this was the first case that a representative of the journalist community was discussing such issue with an official. What are your impressions from that meeting?
-Different journalist organizations also have done a grateful work repeatedly voicing about the problems of the field. The journalists cannot solve the issue by just raising it and spreading a text of announcement. We just can convene a session of the department and criticize the Municipality’s decision by the most brutal words. But this would results in nothing. Only the statements are not enough. The experience showed that the authorities are indifferent on any statement. I made a decision to apply to the Mayor, meet with him and discuss this issue. And if they want to make some regulation in our field, they must take into consideration our opinion and the laws regulating the field. I urged the Mayor to meet with the media representatives to present what served the base for such initiative. And the media representatives in their turn should present their proposals so that the work could be jointly organized. As a result the meeting with reporters took place, and we agreed that the Municipality must send its proposals to journalists, and they in their turn will try to come to a common conclusion by their proposals. I chose the practical option so that they will consider us in case of making any change.
-What other problem do you see in the field that you are going to solve in such way?
-We need to take a lot of actions in the professional field. We have problems with ethics, professional trainings and self-education. And I think first of all we should raise our internal issues and try to solve them.
Interview by Anna Grigoryan
English –translator/editor: Aneta Harutyunyan