Galina Davidyan: the need for media resources like 'Novosti Armenia' to grow
Ten years ago, on December 8, 2005, a new national media resource –the International News Agency 'Novosti Armenia' emerged in Armenia's media space. Over ten years of its activity the agency has achieved tangible results finding its own niche in the Armenian media field. In an exclusive interview with the daily Novoye Vremya (New Time) Galina Davidyan, the CEO of the news agency, speaks on the agency's achievements and future plans.
Q. Novosti-Armenia is marking its first big anniversary - 10 years of work in the information field of Armenia. Could you sum up the first decade?
A. I think it would not be an exaggeration to say that Novosti Armenia is one of the major media projects in the information space of Armenia. We were created in partnership with the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti and our main objective was to inform readers in Armenia, Russia and other former Soviet republics about all important events in politics, economy, science and culture in our countries. Of course, first of all, it was to be a national Armenian media resource, trusted by our readers both in Armenia and abroad. I would like to note that the agency has also done much to enhance information exchange with Russia and make societies of both countries closer by providing them with the opportunity to hear and understand each other better. In my opinion, we have completed this task, as evidenced by numerous feedbacks from our readers, including influential politicians, experts and international organizations. The agency is one the most cited news agencies - the main indicator for a media resource. Over these 10 years we have managed to develop our own style, to avoid the devastating effects of erosion and fragmentation of media space and remain as a classic news agency, which is trusted and referenced to by users and leading world media in covering important events happening in Armenia.
Q. Then, why did RIA Novosti close its office in Armenia in October 2014 and terminated cooperation with a friendly Armenian media?
A. We were told the reason was reduction in funding for 2014. RIA Novosti decided to close its offices in Armenia, Moldova and Azerbaijan from January 1, 2014 and shift to sub-regional representation. It was also announced that the agency terminated support to partner agencies in these countries. This decision perplexed not only us, but also experts. The fact is that Novosti Armenia has traditionally been positioned as one of the most influential media resources in Armenia serving as a link between Armenia and Russia. A resource that fully met its mission and used the policy of 'soft power' as its primary means of influence.
Q. Did you try resisting this decision by RIA Novosti?
A. Of course, we did. We did not want to undermine the work of so many years. Prominent experts in Armenia and Russia, public organizations, the embassy of the Russian Federation in Armenia and other official bodies expressed their support for us. The situation had changed dramatically on Dec. 9, 2013, when the Russian president signed a decree abolishing RIA Novosti and creating on its base the Russia Today international news agency. The new agency included also the Russian state broadcasting company Voice of Russia, whose main mission, according to the Russian presidential decree, is to provide coverage of Russian state policy and social life beyond its borders. As a result, Novosti-Armenia continued cooperation with Russia Today.
Q. How was your work evaluated by Russian partners?
A. Our work has always been evaluated as excellent. In particular, according to now former deputy head of Russia Today's editorial board for CIS and Baltic countries Ella Taranova, Novosti-Armenia was one of the best partners of RIA Novosti in the CIS. She stated this during a Russian-Armenian media forum held in 2013 December in Yerevan. She also expressed hope that cooperation with Novosti-Armenia will continue. Alas, she was wrong.
Q. How did events unfold?
A. Everything happened like in the famous tale by Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland." In November 2014 Russia Today launched a new project - Sputnik.
Q. And what place was given to Novosti Armenia in this project?
A. None. Of course it was a pity, but not fatal. Novosti Armenia is a solid, self-sufficient media resource and one way or another it will continue developing.
Q. How things did go in the Sputnik-Armenia?
A. To be honest, we experienced a creative impulse. In a short time, our team was able to secure very high rate of traffic for Sputnik-Armenia that no one expected. Sputnik-Armenia radio, launched shortly afterwards, was gaining momentum shifting from four to eight-hour broadcast across the country.
Soon, however, we were told about the change of the top management and the appointment of new managers. I will not go into details, but the result of all these changes was the departure of the project's team. Now we have again redirected our efforts on the development of Novosti-Armenia. We have launched a new modern multimedia site that matches today's requirements. We have many plans and are developing several new projects. In addition, in the near future we are going to resume the operation of Novosti-Armenia press center.
Q. Do you think that in today's geopolitical developments Armenian media will become more popular?
Q. I think it is quite logical. Because in the light of the aggravation of Russian-Turkish relations, the role of Armenia as the only full-fledged ally of Russia in the region will increase, and the demand for such resources as Novosti-Armenia will grow. After all, Armenia is also a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, and former prime minister of our country, Tigran Sargsyan will be heading the Eurasian Economic Commission from 2016 February 1. So, as you can see, we have a lot to do, with a broad field of cooperation opening up for us in terms of promoting the Eurasian integration. As a matter of fact, Novosti Armenia is the only prominent Russia-friendly media resource in our country. The agency plays a crucial role in the dissemination of objective information on significant events happening in Russia and also in the formation of its positive image as a strategic ally of Armenia. It is another question how people in Russia understand the importance of such media resources. For me, the question is still open.