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RFE/RL Armenia Report Marks Its Fifth Anniversary


Five Years and Counting…

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the establishment of our web site. In 1997 the Armenian Service of Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe started a daily news page called “Armenia Report”. It was the first and only comprehensive, English-language news and analysis web site that brought an unceasing stream of reliable and objective reporting on Armenia and Armenian issues.

Our reports are based on our broadcasts – mainly voice reports prepared and recorded by our staff in Armenia and integrated into our daily Armenian-language broadcasts that are transmitted out of our headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic. So, first of all our readers, especially those in other countries, should feel grateful to a team of dedicated professionals who have worked hard to get them the hard news and analysis every day, on time and up-to-date.

What started in 1997 was vastly improved in 2001, when we added Armenian text, and a host of new options to a revamped site labeled Armenia Liberty (www.armenialiberty.org), symbolizing our dedication to Armenia’s development as a democracy and RFE/RL’s dedication to liberty. This improvement vastly increased the number of users visiting our site. Next month, our web visitors will enjoy yet another vast improvement to our site. Let us wait for the pleasant surprise.

No doubt that on this occasion I would like to thank Emil Danielyan, our English-language Editor who was there from the first day and who has worked six day weeks for full five years, with brief and occasional vacation breaks. Emil is the personification of the young and dedicated journalist, with a strong sense of fairness, objectivity and dedication to his work. I also thank Leonid Zilfugarian, our Armenian language editor who patiently worked long hours in the first few months to make the Armenian site a success. My special thanks to the Chief Editor of the Armenian Service Harry Tamrazian who has always felt a strong bond with our web site, believing that the “Internet will be huge”. For the last two years, HArry has devoted a lot of time and efforts to improving our web site.

Last but not the least, I would like to thank the Internet team at RFE/RL who have always done everything possible to solve technical problems and help us improve and expand our site.

We hope to continue to serve the public both in Armenia and abroad with ever-improving products. Without free flow of information and ideas, countries in transition cannot build stable political systems conducive of full human, social and economic development.

Mardo Soghom,
Director,
RFE/RL Armenian Service


On 20 October 1997, RFE/RL's Armenian Service posted its first- ever "Armenia Report" on RFE/RL's web-page, becoming the first of RFE/RL's broadcast services to produce a daily Internet summary in English of its most interesting news stories.

The idea of doing so emerged several months earlier, when Emil Danielyan gravitated to RFE/RL after the closure in March 1997 of the Open Media Research Institute in Prague where he had planned to spend the year 1996-1997 as an intern. Mardo Soghom and Harry Tamrazian came up with the idea of hiring Emil to work with the Yerevan bureau and produce such an English-language report.

The first pilot issue, dated 29 July 1997, comprised just a press review: the first item was an article from "Golos Armenii" criticizing was Zhirayr Libaridian, then still an advisor to Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossian, for taking what it termed an unrealistic stance on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict's settlement in his interview with Armenpress four days earlier.

After several further pilot press reviews, the "Armenia Report" was launched in earnest: its first issue, on Monday 20 October, had just one story, on the negative reaction of the Karabakh leadership to the most recent OSCE Minsk Group peace proposal.

Since then, "Armenia Report" has expanded -- four stories a day plus the press review are not uncommon. And thanks primarily to Emil's hard work and dedication, it has become an indispensable source of up-to-date information to government officials, journalists, scholars, and just about anyone with an interest in Armenia.

In May 2001, the Armenian Service launched its own separate website which comprises not only the English-language "Armenia Report" but also the complete transcripts of all Armenian-language programming and Real Audio. Since then, the number of page hits has rocketed to reach over ten million in June 2002.

Liz Fuller,
Editor,
RFE/RL Newsline, RFE/RL Caucasus Report
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