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PSIA Students Gain Media Literacy Skills in Conference & Master Class

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YEREVAN, Armenia – On April 25, 2014, a student conference and master class entitled “Reporting the European Union” took place at the American University of Armenia (AUA) as a part of the EU-funded “Media Neighbourhood” project. The conference was organized by the AFP Foundation, a member of a consortium led by BBC Media Action that aims at implementing the Media Neighbourhood project. Dr. Syuzanna Vasilyan, Jean Monet Chair of European Studies and assistant professor in AUA’s Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) program, represented AUA as a co-organizer of the event.

The conference was opened by Professor Doug Shumavon, chair of the Political Science and International Affairs program. The speakers of the first policy round were Jose Maria Medina Navarro, Deputy Head of Cooperation, European Delegation to Armenia, Mher Margaryan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pascal Chelala, Team Leader EU Neighbourhood Barometer, and Erik Gyulazyan, Key Expert EU Neighbourhood InfoCentre. The debate was chaired and moderated by Dr. Vasilyan. The topics covered subjects such as the EU’s policy in Armenia, EU-Armenia relations, a presentation of the EU Neighbourhood InfoCentre portal, and the findings of the EU Neighborhood Barometer project in Armenia, respectively.

The second panel included a discussion by Armenian journalists, namely, Davit Alaverdyan, Mediamax agency, Samvel Martirosyan, iDitord project, Arshaluis Mghdesyan, Regnum Agency, and Stepan Safaryan, Hetq.am. It was introduced by Jean-Michel Duffrene, Media Neighbourhood Team Leader, and moderated by Dr. Vasilyan. The panel focused on the role of Armenian media in reporting on the EU, with the points of discussion being the lack of proficiency in European languages which affects the content and generates bias and partiality in reporting, and the political charge given by the media against the background of low public awareness. Dr. Vasilyan discussed these as pieces of advice for (potential) journalists to learn European languages, and to adopt a model of governance whereby the media can act as a watchdog, being a reflexive channel between the ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ of society, an accurate and neutral interlocutor with a competent and independent clout, capable of not just ‘preventive’ but also ‘pre-emptive’ reporting about events.

The conference was followed by a master class delivered by Russell Peasgood, Media Neighbourhood Expert from BBC, who explained the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of reporting. Mr. Peasgood brought forth different examples, calling for the input of the audience as to the political correctness of the language used, the selection of events, and appropriate methods of television coverage. It was moderated by Dr. Vasilyan and discussed by Mr. Duffrene.

The conference participants—students from AUA and other universities in Armenia—actively participated by asking questions to the speakers about the above-mentioned issues.

“Whereas the EU is currently mentioned in Armenian media often, there is lack of adequate knowledge on the part of journalists; this also results in public misperceptions about its role, decision-making, and policies. With media considered as a ‘fourth estate’, the student conference was organized to enhance the knowledge of the students regarding reporting, with the function of media as a bridge. In an age where information is abundant but reliability is questioned, it will be crucial for students, some of whom aim at a political or policy career, with yet others keen on becoming public relations specialists or journalists proper, to be able to collect, analyze, and dissect news,” said Dr. Vasilyan.

For more information about the event, please click here.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values. 

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The audience was comprised of students from AUA and other universities.

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From left: Mr. Jose Maria Medina Navarro, Deputy Head of Cooperation, European Delegation to Armenia, Dr. Syuzanna Vasilyan, Jean Monnet Chair of European Studies and PSIA Assistant Professor, Mr. Mher Margaryan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Erik Gyulazyan, Key Expert EU Neighbourhood InfoCentre.

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From left: Mr. Arshaluis Mghdesyan, Regnum Agency, Mr. Samvel Martirosyan, iDitord project, Mr. Stepan Safaryan, Hetq.am, Mr. Davit Alaverdyan, Mediamax agency, and Dr. Syuzanna Vasilyan, Jean Monnet Chair of European Studies and PSIA Assistant Professor.

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PSIA Chair Professor Dr. Douglas Shumavon listening to a PSIA student posing a question.

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From left: Mr. Russell Peasgood, Media Neighbourhood Expert from BBC, Dr. Syuzanna Vasilyan, Jean Monnet Chair of European Studies and PSIA Assistant Professor, and Mr. Jean-Michel Duffrene, Media Neighbourhood Team Leader.

 

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