Armenian Libertarian-Socialist Movement

Global, Caucasian and Armenian politics in anarchist perspective

Indymedia in Armenia???

Posted by Sasuntsi Anarchist on May 14, 2007

Inymedia LogoA few days ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was a short-lived Indymedia in Armenia approximately 2 years ago.  Needless to say IMC Armenia was one of only 4 IMCs in Middle East (the others being in Palestine, Israel and Lebanon) and the only one in Caucasus.  I was intrigued to say the least, so I embarked on a quest to find out more about this much-needed form of information gathering and distribution, and media source in Armenia and Caucasus today.  If you know more about what happened to Indymedia in Armenia please-please write it in comments.

I know that Onnik from Oneworld Multimedia blog knows about Indymedia in Armenia because he referenced them few times, so I hope to hear from Onnik.  I would imagine that bloggers who have been around for a while, might know more about what happened to this short-lived IMC-Armenia. So please write.

This is what I’ve found so far: The initial collective of “7 organizers and many other individuals around them and organizations surrounding them” applied to be admitted into Indymedia in July 2004.  And it looks like they were approved and were given a green light with domain name set up and all the servers and all the technical gibberish which is beyond me.  But then concerns started emerging from other IMCs (Independent Media Collective) about Indymedia-Armenia’s structure of organization, which was hierarchical, rather then horizontal (and which would enable some of the people to easily hire and fire other volunteers), and of course the notion of hierarchy goes against everything that Indymedia stands for, while IMC-Armenia’s response was not clear even to me.  On Indemedia documentation IMC-Armenia stands under “Approved by network but non-hierarchy and independence unclear”.  For instance, in their editorial policy they stated “9. Removing a member of the board: a member may be removed, by consensus, for serious dereliction of duty, failing to be objective in editing posts, etc.” AND also had a contradiction between consensus and majoritarianism: “1. All decisions will be taken by consensus.but 3.In that case, the general board, which includes the Editorial Board as well as the separate editorial departments in its membership, will discuss and vote.”    It also appears that IMC in Armenia was also operating as an NGO called “BEM – YPAC (Youth Progressive Action Centre)” (which I believe still exists, and it appears that they participated in SKSELA’s Barekendan march), and it also appears that BEM was accused of being linked to USAID (which is the financial arm or Imperialist’s state-terror), which is simply unacceptable by Indymedia standards and was regarded as a serious security risk to Indymedia.  IMC-Armenia responded that it was nothing more then a USAID rep approaching them and offering money for BEM Youth Centre, which they refused.

There seems to be another issue with the question of servers, and this is also how IMC-Armenia responded: “A further note on USAID: we were originally considering hosting the site in Armenia on an IREX server in order to allow all Armenian users to access it (Freenet users here can’t access sites hosted outside of Armenia. IREX, precisely because of its connections, was deemed to be more secure than an unaffiliated local host – the law is hardly on our side here, and there would be no problems for the authorities when is comes to taking down the site. But because of a number of issues, one of which is indeed the fact that IREX is a US/USAID program, we’re trying to secure a better host outside of Armenia and then work out another solution to getting through to Freenet users. We wouldn’t be trying to get the site on a Mir server in the first place if we weren’t just as concerned as you are.”

Here are the documentation of IMC-Armenia (their Mission Statement, Membership criteria, Editorial and Decision-making policy, as well as the concerns which were raised and IMC-Armenia’s responses)

This is what I have found out.  Does anybody know anything more?  And most importantly, are there any plans to revive the IMC-Armenia or start a new IMC?


4 Responses to “Indymedia in Armenia???”

  1. nazarian said

    I have wondered about the financial implications of operating an Indymedia site. How are the operating and administrative costs covered? I suspect the worldwide Indymedia utlets are financed through donations, and I highly doubt that it can be the case in Armenia.

    I think in this day and age the Indymedia structure is outdated. The free blogs are a better way of disseminating information.

  2. I’ve sent you the email address of the main guy behind the Indymedia project.

  3. isabella said

    Is that Vahag ?

  4. kronstadt said

    Onnik, thanks a bunch. We’ve received the e-mail, but havn’t made the contact yet.

    Isabella, no, the name of the main guy behind the short-live IMC armenia (that Onnik kindly supplied) is not Vahag.

    Nazarian, the administrative costs of operating a small IMC (independent media collective) are not really that high. Mostly IMCs are composed of activists who do it voluntarily in their own time. Anybody with internet access (or in some cases even just a telephone) can contribute a news-story (this is often done by journalism students or other social-science students, activists, already established journalists who get a slap on the hand from the editors about going ahead with various kinds of stories, academics and even by ordinary people who were witness to certain events in their locale). Even I have written for Indymedia, while not being a member of any IMCs. So in terms of news, they really come from anywhere. The job of the IMC members (of course these vary from IMC to IMC) is to decide between themselves on the time when each of them monitors the site to prevent racist, fascist, homophobic, sexist etc news stories from appearing in Indymedia’s Newswire. And the best or the most important articles get promoted to the front page. So, if there is a collective of 21 people they can decide that each one of them monitors the site for 4 hours twice a week — so that the site is monitored for all 168 hours (24×7). And that’s all there is to it. Many moderators just do it from work (I even heard of some moderators who are not even inside the given country, though this not really encouraged).
    I think Indymedia today is more then necessary especially in a country like Armenia. Yes, information travels fast through blogging networks (sometimes even faster than on A1+ or other such websites), but you really need to surf many blogs before you get some sense of what is going on. And the number of blogs is growing, but not all of them always report news, and many of them report second-source news – not immadiate news. With Indymedia what you have is like a “focal point” where all that info gets concentrated; and you know that all you need to do is just visit that one site. Also not everyone has a blog, and not all blogs are dedicated exclusively to news and reports like Onnik’s blog for instance: if someone has an urgent story to report one can just go into any internet cafe and after 2 clicks the story is up and running for everyone to read.
    IMCs are financed mostly by readers and “PayPal Donate” buttons. (It leally is News by the People for the People). These donations usually go for server maintenance, ocasional hiring of premises for the IMC regional meeting, financing some journalistic projects and trip expenses, occasional hiring of some professional IT stuff if they would (rarely) refuse to do it free of charge, and importantly for printing and delivery of Indymedia “newspapers” and bulletins to locations which are not connected to internet. Some larger IMC projects like radio broadcasts and Satellite TV airtime are financed from other sources, however IMC has pretty strict protocols about non-cooperation with such bodies like USAID.

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