Diaspora needs press: Lebanon-based Zartonk daily will be printed even it has one reader
YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 28, ARMENPRESS. The Lebanon-based Zartonk daily, one of the favorites of the Armenian community, for 80 years covered the key and urgent events taking place both in the community, Armenia and the world. It contributed to strengthening the Armenia-Diaspora ties, provided pages to materials depicting the homeland’s prosperity in the fields of science, culture and etc, published the works and articles of Armenian and Soviet authors. Zartonk kept in its spotlight the international, civil and national life of the Diaspora-Armenians.
Sevak Hakobyan – editor-in-chief of Zartonk daily, gave an interview to ARMENPRESS talking about the newspaper’s achievements, programs and future prospects.
-Certainly, by some pauses, Zartonk is being published for 80 years keeping many readers alongside with it. In your opinion, what is the greatest achievement of the daily during those years?
-The fact that the Armenian press has worked uninterrupted in the Diaspora for 80 years is already a victory. It is published without any state assistance, material or any other support. The newspaper has been formed in 1937 on the eve of the World War II. It faced that war, the Lebanese civil war and reached our days.
-I would like you to outline the main principles which Zartonk followed for years.
-Our mission is to publish good articles. Press is not a business for us. There are several devotees who served the newspaper. There are employees who contribute to the newspaper’s development, do everything for its publishing. There are national, even commercial institutions, which, not so believing in their advertising power, finance us just helping the newspaper, want the newspaper to be published and continue having a contribution to the preservation of the Armenian language.
It plays a great role in the life of the Diaspora-Armenians. When Armenians arrived in these countries, almost all were Turkish-speaking people. Later a generation came who was speaking in Armenian, and this was not accidental. The Armenian church and the newspaper had their contribution in this matter.
-It’s not a secret that nowadays the online media is more actual, than the print one. What steps do you take for not losing your readers?
-The print media is retreating in connection with the lack of the reader and the requirement of time. Even if we have only one reader, we must publish the newspaper. In line with the print media we also report news online.
The region is completely under danger: Lebanon is also under danger, and we think that it’s necessary to save the history of Zartonk. We have newspaper issues collected over these 80 years. The isues of each year are summed up in one book. But they can no longer be kept in such condition, therefore, we digitize them by cooperating with the National Library.
-Zartonk covers public, political and other spheres. In the 21st century what articles are mostly of interest of the readers?
-We publish national, party-related, literary and other articles, present reviews. There have been periods when we had a special appendage dedicated to art and literature. We mainly cover national issues. 100% of our readers are Lebanese-Armenians and we touch upon issues of their concern and interest. The technologies helped us to quickly disseminate the news across the world: this came to balance the retreat of the print media. There was no lack of readers, and from now on we cannot say that Azdag, Zartonk and Ararat are only Lebanese newspapers. I also want to state that we also cooperate with ARMENPRESS since 1967. Deciding to expand the cooperation last year we signed an agreement of mutual work with Director of ARMENPRESS news agency Aram Ananyan.
-How do you see the future of the Armenian press in the Diaspora?
-The average age of the readers of the print media is high, it should be reduced. The online media greatly contributed to this, and this encourages us and promotes our work. This means that the Diaspora needs the press, and I hope we will celebrate more 80th anniversaries.
Interview by Angela Hambardzumyan
English – translator/editor: Aneta Harutyunyan