Lack of readership and community support endangers an Armenian daily in İstanbul

News About Turkey - NAT
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Nor Marmara, an Armenian-language daily newspaper based in İstanbul, marked its 83rd year of publication yesterday.

However, managers of the newspaper are not sure whether they will be able to celebrate their anniversary next year due to financial difficulties.

“Is the Armenian culture and language doomed to disappear along with the newspaper?” the outlet asked in its anniversary message. “Will we be able to tell our dear readers next year that we have reached our 84th year?”

The newspaper claims that the Armenian foundations have not kept their promises of supporting them financially by placing their announcements in the newspaper, which they made before the elections in Armenian foundations last year.

“Don’t they realize that by preferring digital and free platforms, they are harming themselves as well? History is written by newspapers. In a community that will be left without newspapers tomorrow, they too will lose their chance to take their place in history.”

Dwindling number of readers

The Armenian community in İstanbul is estimated to have around 50 to 60,000 members. They are one of the three minority groups that are officially recognized, along with Greeks (Rum) and Jews. The Armenians were finally able to elect their foundation leaders last year after a nine-year hiatus, following the release of the relevant regulations that allowed them to do so.

However, very few people in this community can read and understand Armenian, says Ari Haddeler, the editor-in-chief of Nor Marmara. The low circulation and the lack of ads make it hard for the newspaper to survive.

“Our newspaper’s selling price is 3.5 lira. We’re already paying 1.5 lira of that for the paper itself. It’s impossible for the newspaper to sustain itself solely from sales. We can’t get advertisements,” he says. “The main reason for our inability to attract ads is the dwindling number of our readers. There are very few people left who can read and understand Armenian. That’s why we see a bleak future ahead.”

“A cultural heritage”

Haddeler emphasizes that the newspaper should be regarded as a cultural heritage rather than a commercial enterprise, after being published for over 80 years. “Just as we work hard as a community to protect the schools and churches that our ancestors left us, we must also protect the printed newspapers that are published in Armenian.”

This is why he thinks that Armenian foundations should support the newspaper. “We also expect those who are in leadership positions to recognize this and support us in this way. It’s not just about making donations to the newspaper; it needs to be structured.

“For example, we have our churches. Some are wealthy, while others are less fortunate. Those who have more resources could help those who have less resources. They can pool their resources within their community and cover the annual budget deficit of that church.

“A similar arrangement should be considered for the press. Alternatively, well-off foundations could take this as a responsibility and guarantee a certain number of advertisements every year.”

Moreover, Haddeler says that the Press Advertisement Institution (BİK), a government agency responsible for placing public announcements in newspapers to provide financial support, does not place ads in Nor Marmara but makes a “compensatory payment” every year. However, he adds, they have not received this payment this year.

Source:Bianet

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