Armine Amiryan reports from around the world
Published: Sunday November 30, 2008
Yerevan - For many a broadcast journalist, walking through the halls of CNN's headquarters in Atlanta with an all-access pass would be a dream come true. Being able to work with the industry's top anchors and learning from the world's best international correspondents would be high points in many journalists' careers, but for Armenia TV's Armine Amiryan they're only the beginning.
As one of Armenia's most visible reporters, Armine is always on the go. When she's not covering the president's international meetings, she's traveling throughout Armenia in search of human-interest stories that have yet to be uncovered.
When I met Armine, she was pacing through the halls of Armenia TV's studios in Yerevan and was certainly in her element. As she led me through the station's news room and infinite row of editing bays, we ended up in her office - a place which is undeniably her home base.
On any given day, Armenians from all around the world tune in to watch her reporting on important issues that impact Armenia. On this day she's preparing to move to Los Angeles, where she'll report on diaspora news - a move that's imperative in this era, when Armenian news can no longer be confined to one region.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Like many Armenian families, Armine's parents were fond of the idea that their daughter would one day become a lawyer or doctor, but Armine had other plans. From a young age she was drawn to journalism.
"By tenth grade I was always watching the news and was drawn by the fact that there was always something changing somewhere in the world," says Armine, who likes to be amidst constant change. "I thought I wanted to become a journalist, but couldn't imagine that I could do it."
As high school came to an end, Armine secretly applied to the journalism department of Armenia's State Pedagogical University and was accepted. After one year of studying journalism, she fell in love with the world of television and added television production as a second major. Armine would eventually go on to graduate with highest honors in both majors.
Being merely a student proved to be insufficient for Armine. In her first year of university, at just 17, she began reporting on youth issues for Armenian Public Radio. "At first I started to make only cultural reports, and then one day the head of the news department told me I should cover social and political issues as well," recalls Armine. "I didn't want to become a political reporter, but then I understood that a reporter should never limit herself to covering certain types of issues."
Learning beyond the classroom
By 2000, and still a university student, Armine joined Armenia TV. The decision to join a burgeoning U.S.-Armenia media partnership, where she would have the support of senior colleagues who had built successful media careers in the United States and Armenia, catapulted her onto the international scene - literally. In the past six months alone, she has sat on a plane 50 times and has reported from 30 different countries ranging from Tajikistan to the United States, with multiple stops in Europe and the Middle East.
Though she was much younger than her peers, she began to cover political issues as an on-air reporter for the 2003 presidential race in Armenia. In 2005, she flew to Brussels to study European governing bodies, including the European Union, European Parliament, and Council of Europe, of which Armenia is a member.
By 2006, she was traveling with President Robert Kocharian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, covering their international engagements, a function she has continued to carry out with the current administration. If learning on the job wasn't enough, she was also invited by the United States State Department to participate in the Edward R. Murrow Journalism Program with 126 other journalists from around the world.
Out of all the applicants from Armenia, Armine was the only one chosen to go to Washington and partake in the one-month learning excursion. "At first it was like a dream," she says. "You're always hearing about America, imagining it to be like a Hollywood film. On the other hand, I was there for my profession, which I absolutely love, and for me it was very important to learn and understand journalism in the United States."
While in the United States, Armine met with heads of ABC News, NBC News, and Fox, and came to understand the difference between the reporting styles in Armenia and the U.S. "It's really different," she says, "because in the U.S. journalists have many more resources. It was very interesting for me. I understood the value of my profession."
Armine returned to Armenia and began covering the Millennium Challenge Compact, an important moment for U.S.-Armenia relations. What sets Armine apart from other reporters is that she was trained beyond the classroom and foreign relations became her forte. Issues involving Armenian-Turkish relations, European integration, Turkish-European relations, Nagorno-Karabakh, U.S.-Armenian relations, and Armenians in the United States became her expertise.
"I like this field because I can speak to people in schools, hospitals, and interview high-ranking officials, for example" says Armine. "I want to understand their perspectives."
In 2007, the State Department offered another journalism program, called TV Co-op, and invited reporters from throughout the globe to the U.S. to make a film. "After thinking about it for a while, I proposed to make a film about the Armenian-American diaspora, [which was created as a consequence] of the Genocide," says Armine, who was the only participant chosen from Armenia. "The film was not only about Armenians that have made names for themselves, but Armenians who [are success stories], whether they be in the restaurant business or children attending Armenian schools, and how they learned Armenian."