On March 10 the Public Journalism Club celebrated its sixth anniversary in media field. This is another opportunity to weigh up what has already been done and to take a look into the future.
Although a relatively new organization, PJC has come a long way from the humble beginnings to a flourishing media platform. We have successfully implemented 10 long-term projects aimed at the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Armenia, development of democratic environment and civil society, promotion of public journalism, media literacy and raising awareness among the society, as well as addressing social issues through innovative ideas and establishing long-standing partnerships with over 20 organisations.
“Our organization is made up of a team of positive thinkers, creative, untiring and like-minded persons who are not indifferent to the developments taking place in our country. Our healthy anxiety is reflected in the PJC projects that primarily aim at bringing change and improving the environment we live in,” Seda Muradyan, director and cofounder of the Public Journalism Club.
PJC has been successfully implementing the Media Center project. Its mission is to facilitate dialogue, discussion and debate among civic group experts, politicians and the media, to focus attention on significant developments and issues and to create efficient platform giving voice to the civil society.
Since 2013, the Media Center has hosted 865 discussions and debates, featuring some 2,262 speakers and addressing various issues: from electoral and democratic processes, violations of human rights, corruption, issues related to religious, ethnic and sexual minorities, gender diversity, the rights of women and persons with disabilities, to economic, environmental, educational and healthcare problems, as well as external relations and regional conflicts.
On March 25, 2015 - the Freedom of Speech day celebrated in Gyumri, the Media Center won the Oganizational Board's award for deep and attentive coverage of diverse public issues.
“Over the course of four years, the Media Center has not only raised the issues of social significance through discussions and debate, but has also had a positive impact on their eventual solution. We have empowered various representatives of civil society to express multiple views on every problem raised at our discussion-events,” Lilit Arakelyan, PJC Media Center program editor/ coordinator.
Another initiative of the Public Journalism Club aiming to raise the issue of human rights violations, was the creation of #electricyerevan - a 30-minute documentary, which was an eyewitness account of the incidents and developments that occurred in the morning of June 23 (2015). The film tells about the police activities to exempt the Baghramyan Avenue from the demonstrators fighting against the electricity price hike and the developments of that day.
With the aim to promote partnership in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) between Turkey and Armenia, the Public Journalism Club has been carrying out the Exchange of Entrepreneurs component under the “Support to Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process” (ATNP) Program since 2014 and launched the Exchange of Painters project (2014) focusing on the role of art in developing Armenia-Turkey relations.
As part of the first stage of the Exchange of Entrepreneurs project, the biggest ever industry to industry exchange between Armenia and Turkey has been initiated, with the involvement of overall 100 ICT investors and entrepreneurs, technology industry leaders, designers and 80 startup enthusiasts from Turkey and Armenia.
In November 2014, a Turkish delegation comprising 30 ICT investors and entrepreneurs – the biggest ever delegation from Turkey - visited Armenia.
“For the two neighbouring countries that lack diplomatic relations, this project creates new opportunities for mutual perception of the startup ecosystems and exchange of experience, by promoting collaboration and establishment of business relations. Notwithstanding the sensitive and complicated regional political pattern, the PJC, jointly with other seven organisations in Turkey and Armenia, has continued putting in place important steps for the successful implementation of the abovementioned projects and obtaining significant results,” Lusine Avagyan, PJC program manager.
In 2011, PJC initiated Hackathon[YAN] – an innovative and brand-new for Armenia contest-festival of innovation and programming. The Public Journalism Club, in cooperation with Microsoft Innovation Center Armenia, Enterprise Incubator Foundation and a number of other organizations, has been organizing this contest-festival for five years, bringing together overall 500 young people. This annual event became a real celebration of technology, source of inspiration and encouragement not only for students, but also for creative schoolchildren. Hackathon [Yan] was also essential in terms of mobilization of the Armenia startup community, increasing interest among young people towards the use of information and communication technologies and addressing social issues through new technologies.
With the aim to enhance the sense of responsibility and proactivity among schoolchildren toward their local community, as well as to empower them to reveal, identify the existing problems and propose solutions, Youth Taking Action and Making News project was launched in 2015-2016. The project featuring essay competition covering community issues and improvements and master classes on innovative ideas and journalism involved around 600 schoolchildren from Ajapnyak and Davtashen administrative districts. The best two ideas (one per administrative region) for implementation were selected by a professional jury. The winning ideas – one suggesting construction of a playground in Davtashen and another proposing installation of benches in one of the schoolyards in Ajapnyak administrative district, were implemented by the contest participants themselves.
Among other innovative projects initiated by the PJC is My News citizen reporting platform that was launched in 2012 with the aim to encourage Internet users to turn from passive news consumers into active news creators by using games and an incentive system. For 2 years, (in 2012 and 2013), Public Journalism Club has trained over 180 citizen reporters in Yerevan and other regions of Armenia. They then became extensively involved in the coverage of elections. Since then, around 3,100 citizen reports have been published on the My News website.
These projects and initiatives were made possible through the financial support of a number of organisations, including Open Society Foundations - Armenia, European Union, the British Embassy in Armenia, the United States Agency for International Development/USAID, the US Embassy in Armenia, Armenian representatives of Counterpart International Armenia, the Foreign Ministry of Norway, Eurasia Partnership Foundation and Royal Netherlands Embassy in Moscow. These organisations have placed confidence in the Public Journalism Club from the very days of its establishment.
“Our partners are our most valuable achievement over the past six years, since they support us in our everyday struggle for bringing change and improvement. Innovation and cooperation are the concepts that our team stands by: we are thankful to everyone who has made a valuable contribution to our projects throughout these years,” Seda Muradyan, director and cofounder of the Public Journalism Club.