The print media is not experiencing its best days in Armenia. In the last few months alone, two newspapers, Haykakan Zhamanak and Zhamanak have stopped publishing and selling. In both cases, the reason is the reduction of sales volumes.
As a result of the coronavirus and the 44-day Artsakh war, the local media suffered financial losses. In addition, there have been a number of legislative changes in the law on advertising, which have severely limited the amount of advertising for gambling games.
In this situation, the media opted for cost optimization. Print media realized that they could no longer afford to spend money on printing, and in recent years they had difficulty selling and had trouble paying journalists and reporters.
Despite the financial difficulties, there are newspapers that continue to be published and reach their readers: Republic of Armenia, Aravot, Zhoghovurd, Hraparak, etc.
On the other hand, in the age of digitalization, when you just need to turn on your phone or computer to read the news or various articles, even newspaper subscriptions become slow and mediated. Simply put, this form of media consumption is outdated.
Producing print media, especially in the torrent of online news, is really a challenge, for which only a small number of Armenian dailies are ready.
With the example of two editorial offices, we tried to understand how the newspapers changed their work in order to adapt to the new situation and in general why they decided to continue publishing.
Republic of Armenia daily, editor-in-chief Arthur Gharagyozyan
The newspaper works mainly with subscriptions. There is no longer a mandatory state voluntary subscription. It’s for sale in Armenia and Artsakh, for example, for 100 AMD.
The newspaper’s sales are 60-70%, which is not a bad result. During the last year and a half, the design of the newspaper has completely changed, we have separated the section of short announcements for articles.
There is no daily news in the newspaper, the main point of the content is the publications of analytical nature in economic, foreign policy, social and other directions.
In the newspaper, you can find the author’s comments, international developments and other publications, which are quite relevant for our society at the moment.
Official information in the newspaper has been kept to a minimum, as readers receive their main news through online media and television.
The sale of the newspaper is carried out through intermediary organizations, although the editorial office makes offers to organizations and individuals during various meetings and contacts. We tend to increase the subscription.
At the moment the daily has 30 subscribers in Artsakh, next year we plan to increase this number to 100.
We will continue to work, because we have sales, interest in the newspaper, the content is balanced, for sure, the message is deeper.
Garik Melkonyan, director of Aravot daily
Every year the sale of the newspaper decreases more than the last, but this year it has slightly increased compared to last year. Sales are organized in kiosks and through subscriptions.
Who the main subscribers are is not so important, as the selling companies have their own market and that information is not public and is considered a commercial secret.
The annual subscription for an individual is about 40-50 thousand AMD and it is difficult to say that people will want to consume the newspaper this way. Sales are falling sharply.
Printed Aravot survives mainly thanks to advertisements and the website. At the moment it is breaking even, the moment we start working at a loss, we will stop printing.
The content of the newspaper is mainly analytical, there are author’s materials on various topics, which are first published in the newspaper and only a day later on the Aravot website.
If this continues, the state of print media is unlikely to improve in the coming years, and there will probably be a need to reconsider the accepted way of generating sales revenue. It will be necessary to develop new business models, it may be worthwhile to turn to a loyal audience and receive orders for articles and investigations for money, or to become a narrow field media. There may be other options.
In any case, in order for newspapers to exist today, they must abandon the old model and completely transform themselves, creating a media product that you will not find on TV and online media.