Trend English Service head: Azerbaijani media outlets develop in line with global processes
Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov.5 / Trend, E.Tariverdiyeva /
"Azerbaijani media outlets are developing in line with global processes. By analogy with the world's influential media organizations, Azerbaijani media outlets also increasingly transfer news content on the Internet," head of English Service of Trend Agency Aynur Gasimova believes.
"This process is absolutely typical for Azerbaijan - economically strong country, following the global trends," Gasimova said addressing the seventh Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which is underway in Baku on Monday.
She believes that it is not about the quality of information in traditional and electronic media outlets, but about the fact that modern people simply do not have time to get information through traditional media. Today Azerbaijan uses the developed countries' experience in the electronic media, and it is an important step in understanding how Azerbaijani journalism will be in the future, Gasimova believes.
"Today online portals have become a major source of getting information. Total daily circulation of newspapers is about 500,000-600,000 copies in Azerbaijan, whereas about one million people visit websites. The state can not ignore such an important tendency - recently it has become apparent that there is a need to pay more attention to the development of online media," she said.
Gasimova said that more and more readers get their information through the Internet space. "Today, 65 percent of Azerbaijani residents use the Internet, while regular Internet users hit 35 percent. Approximately one million people use Facebook social network. At present, 23 out of 50 most visited websites in Azerbaijan account for Azerbaijani websites, while 16 of them are news websites. Over 15,000 websites are registered in domain AZ. These figures indicate active development of online media in Azerbaijan in the context of contemporary challenges. Internet media has been formed and developed very rapidly in recent years. Such projects in Azerbaijan prove themselves not only in terms of demand, but also from the point of view of economic efficiency," she said.
According to Gasimova, as for the global tendencies of online media development, one cannot but mention the issue of practice of restricting the freedom of speech on the Internet. "In fact, there are many countries where freedom of speech is restricted on the Internet through an outright ban or special laws. Several post-Soviet countries adopted laws regulating the Internet. There is no special law regulating the Internet in Azerbaijan. Media censorship was abolished already in 1998, and today both traditional and online media are not subject to censorship. Moreover, laws "On mass media" and "Access to information" in Azerbaijan, according to experts, are one of the most liberal in Europe. In due time these documents were prepared in cooperation with international organizations and fully reflect the current tendecy: freedom of speech and pluralism of opinions are fundamental principles that must be protected also in the Internet space. That is, there is no specific law regulating Internet content in Azerbaijan. These issues are regulated by the laws on media outlets, on countering terrorism, cybercrime, etc. It is important to understand that necessity for internet governance in violence or pornography scenes, and false and unverified information is the social order of society," she said.
In perspective, Azerbaijan should continue cooperation with the European Union, Council of Europe and OSCE in the issues of contribution of international institutions to the development of information and communication technologies and online media. OSCE Baku Office holds courses in the sphere of online TV to enlighten young people in this direction, Gasimova said.
Also, according to her, responsibility, professionalism and personnel training are also important in online media development. She said it is unacceptable that Internet non-regulation by a law created the conditions for neglecting journalists' ethical code. "It is regrettable that filing multiple lawsuits against some media outlets became a matter of prestige for them, and some journalists deliberately neglect the code of ethics, and thus are brought to justice, using it to promote their interests. It is inadmissible when the interests of individuals are used to the detriment of society as a whole," Gasimova said.
She underlined that for Azerbaijani journalism professionalism is also important from the point of view of protracted conflict with neighboring Armenia. "While 20 percent of territories of the country are under occupation, professionalism of a journalist is not just a question of morality. We can not ignore the fact that progress in the development of information technologies has led to emergence of new forms and styles of information delivery. And it means that staff of new media is not always ready to comply with the time-tested professional standards. Today attracting audience and efficiency of new media often takes precedence over professional information delivery. In addition, information that appears in new media, is less accurate, because it may not be checked as carefully as reporter materials are checked by editors at newspapers and television companies," she said.
It is also very important to organize broad discussions on online media taking into account all the nuances. In this regard, meetings and discussions are regularly held in Baku together with international institutions, and this trend should be preserved, she said.
"As a person with 6-year experience in online media agency - Trend , I can speak about work in online agencies on the example of our agency. For 17 years of its activity, our agency has proved to be a leading news provider of the South Caucasus, the Caspian Sea and Central Asia," Gasimova stressed.
The Agency has established the Trend Expert Council, which brings together about 40 well-known independent experts from regional countries and the West. They are experts from the U.S., Israel, Europe, Iran, Russia, Georgia and many other countries. Their views are posted on the website without any censorship, and cooperation with the agency has been continuing for several years. The fact that there is an impressive list of the world's most respected agencies among the Agency's partners and agencies with which we cooperate, including RIA Novosti, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Xinhua, Cihan, Iranian state news agency IRNA, Deutsche Welle and many other giants of the media world proves that the Trend Agency can be trusted, Gasimova said.
The Agency does not meet with difficulties in obtaining information both in state institutions, and in all diplomatic missions accredited to Azerbaijan, she underlined. "It is an evidence of the fact that trained and responsible journalists, whose information is trusted both in the country and abroad, receive full support in the issue of access to timely and reliable information," Gasimova added.