Aslan Aslanov: We witnessed how people's demand for reliable information increased in the special quarantine regime

Baku, June 9, AZERTAC

“The importance of information always increases many times in critical moments. Until now, we have faced mostly local and regional crises. The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the situation globally. This was a new situation for journalists. However, the traditional principles of journalism helped us again. These include verifying the information, quoting only reliable sources and taking preventive measures against rumours. We witnessed how people's demand for reliable information increased in the special quarantine regime,” said OANA Vice-President, AZERTAC Chairman of Board Aslan Aslanov in his interview with Secretary General of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) Alexandru Giboi.

In the interview AZERTAC Chairman of Board Aslan Aslanov highlighted the large-scale social measures implemented by the government on the instructions of the President during the special quarantine regime in Azerbaijan, as well as the financial assistance provided to people during their stay at home.

“During this period, we witnessed the sharing of a lot of misinformation and fake news through social networks and messengers. Some people hear something from somewhere and send it to their acquaintances, and this rumour grows like a snowball and covers thousands of people. In order to prevent this from happening, journalists can send inquiries to relevant agencies and try to clarify the uncertainties. I would also like to note that the frequent briefings conducted by the Task Force under the Cabinet of Ministers during the quarantine regime significantly changed the situation in Azerbaijan. We provided this information to our readers immediately and published additional explanations and comments. Openness and transparency reduced misinformation and people no longer take such information seriously,” Aslan Aslanov noted.

Responding to question on AZERTAC’s activity during the special quarantine regime, Aslan Aslanov said: “AZERTAC started work on informing and educating people about COVID-19 since January. We prepared information charts, expert opinions and video reports, sent them to our subscribers, distributed them on our web resources and social networks. We witnessed how people's demand for reliable information increased in the special quarantine regime and they chose our agency as the right source of information. Based on statistics, I can say that during the quarantine regime, access to our information increased by 40 percent. The number of subscribers to our social network pages and appeals from other media increased. This is due to the trust in the news our agency circulates.”

AZERTAC Chairman of Board Aslan Aslanov also talked about the measures taken to ensure the safety of the news agency’s employees during the special quarantine regime in the country. “In our case, 70 percent of our employees worked from home and received their salaries. Editors and a group of correspondents worked from the office on a regular basis. They worked shortened business hours. Since the field of multimedia and photography requires direct participation, our cameramen, editors and photographers worked in shifts. Medical masks and disinfectants were distributed to those coming to the office every day in order to ensure their safety,” Aslan Aslanov mentioned.

Sharing his views on news agencies’ work in the post-pandemic period, Aslan Aslanov said: “I think that society will need news agencies in the future as well. For this to happen though, agencies need to focus on the resources other media do not have. The expansion of social media, the growth of online media resources and the accessibility of information for everyone are affecting and will continue to affect news agencies. But society will have a choice: to trust a 100-year-old media organization or a new resource. Of course, the socio-psychological choice will be on the side of the media with extensive experience. During the pandemic, we witnessed that again. As the latest developments show, news agencies should actively use business tools and diversify their activities.”

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