Behind The Microphone: Shedding Light on MEDIA+ Participants
Vika Abgaryan

Hub Artsakh Blog

Interviewed by Alyona Hayrapetyan,
Written by Lou Terzian,
June 6, 2024

Aspiring journalists from conflict-affected regions often face numerous challenges in pursuing their careers, ranging from limited resources to lack of exposure to international platforms. Recognizing this gap, Hub Artsakh launched the MEDIA+ Program in the heart of Stepanakert in June 2023, with the aim of empowering young journalists from Artsakh to cover local developments and conflict for international media outlets. This series shifts the spotlight onto the journalists who are typically behind the microphone, allowing them to shed light on the challenges and aspirations they face in today’s Armenia.


Vika and her friend’s journey into journalism began in Stepanakert, marked by mixed feelings of apprehension, doubts and excitement. But with no journalism department available in Artsakh, their aspirations seemed distant. Until the opportunity to participate in the MEDIA+ program showed up on their phone screens. “My friend and I applied together after she shared the program announcement with me,” Vika recounts. “When we saw the announcement, we were very excited. We were also terribly worried whether we would be accepted or not”.


“Participating in the program made me realize that this is exactly what I was striving for”


Yet, today, Vika found a platform to pursue her passion for journalism. Entering the program, she looked forward to discovering a multitude of new insights. “I wanted to discover journalism in depth,” she shares. Through the program’s curriculum, Vika gained the knowledge she was yearning to learn, from upgrading writing skills to mastering the art of reporting. “I knew very little about this field before starting the program,” she reflects. “But now, I understand what journalism really is”.


With each assignment, Vika’s journalism aspirations grew stronger, solidifying her determination to pursue her dream profession. “Participating in the program made me realize that this is exactly what I wanted to do and what I was striving for,” she affirms. Through the program, she gained insights into various journalistic niches, from interview techniques to media literacy. “Initially, I didn’t have specific goals,” Vika admits. “Instead, I wanted to take as much knowledge and insights as I could from every aspect of the program”. 


“Before, I was afraid to voice my opinions. Now, I never hesitate questioning.”


For Vika, pursuing a career in journalism was more than a question of mastering the art of storytelling or gaining a diploma to present to employers. The program marked a turning point in her personal life as well. “Before, I was very shy, hesitating to ask questions, afraid to voice my opinions,” she admits. However, as she pursued the program, her inhibitions dissolved, replaced by a new confidence. “Comrade Barseghyan always said: ‘if you have a question, you should ask it,’” Vika recalls. “Now, I never hesitate questioning, particularly when the topic resonates with me.


Moreover, the program facilitated Vika’s transition into the professional sphere. “Highlighting my involvement in a journalism course during job applications undoubtedly boosted my prospects,” she shares. “I’ve been employed at MediaHub news since February, thanks in part to the skills garnered from the program.


“It is a cherished vocation coupled with great responsibility”


Vika’s journey serves as a testament of the resilience and perseverance of the youth from Artsakh.  “The first time I went to work and had to conduct street interviews, I was terribly afraid. I had not done anything like that before. My hands and feet were shaking,” she recalls. “But I was driven by the feeling that I am now a journalist and I have to do my job.” Her genuine love for the profession propels her pursuit of excellence every day. “ Even when I’ve been told “Enough, it’s good”, I didn’t stop, I kept asking questions, because I think the most interesting answer always comes at an unexpected moment.


Being a journalist is a cherished vocation coupled with great responsibility,” Vika concludes.


Reflecting on her journey, Vika recognizes the role of the MEDIA+ program in her today’s life in Armenia. “If I wasn’t given the opportunity of participating in this program, I think I wouldn’t even consider becoming a journalist now,” she admits. “As they say, serendipity has its role in shaping one’s path.


In Stepanakert, amidst the challenges of the new conditions of her daily life, Vika’s story served as a testament to the transformative power of education and to the infinite potential our youth hold within them. Through the MEDIA+ Program, she found not only a platform to pursue her vocation, but also a community of mentors and peers who continue nurturing her growth in Yerevan. As she continues her journey into the world of journalism, we hope that Anush’s story illuminates the path forward for aspiring journalists in conflict-affected regions.

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