Today marks the 101st anniversary of Asbarez. As such, we conclude our year-long celebration/observance of our centennial. In the course of producing special issues and special events, the challenges that we and our predecessors have overcome to ensure the longevity of our newspaper have been at the forefront of our every-day internal discussions of our 100th anniversary.
While, on the surface, the challenges have been similar in nature throughout the years, with the financial viability of the newspaper always as the number-one concern, the question of where we see ourselves in our second century has also become an important point, on which to focus as the entire universe of newspaper publication is experiencing a radical evolution.
The main objective of Asbarez is to inform and educate the community on issues that are not readily available to the community and provide analysis to shape opinions and encourage and empower action by its audience.
In recent years we have seen a proliferation of sources that provide information on Armenia, Armenians and our community. In this congested environment, Asbarez retooled its Web site this year and, by in large, shifted its focus to the digital news dissemination. The imperative to go beyond the news and provide concise analysis on the daily developments has exponentially multiplied. We can confidently say that those who opt in to our services—Asbarez Post, asbarez.com and our print editions—do so to go beyond the news and obtain a perspective that is unique to our political agenda.
The real challenge for Asbarez in the coming years is to engage a larger portion of the community in our information and news dissemination process and by expanding our audience also reach a segment of the community that was not inherently engaged in the every-day machinations of Armenian life.
A simultaneous challenge is to tackle the generational divide. As the demographics shift from that of an immigrant community to fist, second and third generation existence, the number of young people who were born or grew up in this country increasingly seem detached from our traditional reality, and often times chose to not engage in our national issues.
The generational divide is not a singularly Armenian issue, it’s a universal one. Young people do not read newspapers and are able to access information or news about only topics that interest them. In confronting this challenge, we also have the responsibility to engage this generation as they will be the potential leaders of our organizations, our communities and our cause.
As a newspaper, and as an organization, we have little choice but to evolve with the changes that drive society. The distinct difference in our case is that while newspapers and other publications are folding today because of decline in circulation as a result of the digital shifts or the economic woes that these changes have created, Asbarez, as a community newspaper, will—and must—continue to be an ever-present arena in our community for decades to come.