Azerbaijan’s National Press turns 139

By: Jamila Babayeva

Today, 139 years have passed since the establishment of Azerbaijan’s National Press. The first printed edition of Akinchi newspaper (The Ploughman) was released on July 22, 1857.

It was founded by Azerbaijani journalist, teacher and scholar and Moscow University alumnus Hasan Bey Zardabi.

Akinchi played an important role in the formation and development of Azerbaijani National Press.

Zardabi is well-known as the first Azerbaijani newspaper editor. On those days, Baku with is rapid growth and development highly needed a national press.

Zardabi stood against backwardness, ignorance and fanaticism of people, on one hand and jealousy, ill-wishing, as well as direct hostility of the authorities on the other hand. This was part of his efforts to do something necessary and useful for Azerbaijani people.

One of the main purposes of Akinchi was to spread knowledge in the field of agriculture. The newspaper also gave a lot of advice on medicine, hygiene and physiology. But the most important point about the newspaper was that it published serious articles about the causes of underdevelopment and lack of education of the population.

The newspaper received a great deal attention: in the early days of its publication, the newspaper was circulated not only in Azerbaijan but also in Russia. The language of Akinchi was simple and clear to everyone and awakened the nation.

In a short time, Akinchi became popular among intellectuals and ordinary people.

The first Azerbaijani newspaper was regarded as a revolutionary one not only for its periodical publication in Azerbaijani, but also for being a channel for communication with ordinary men.

In order to make media accessible to lower classes, Zardabi propagated reforms in the Azerbaijani literary language aimed to make it more popular by excluding bulky expressions and loanwords from Persian and Arabic languages used mostly in religious texts and classical poetry.

His newspaper was shut down several times by Russian authorities as “harmful and politically unreliable”. After the closure of Akinchi in 1877, Zardabi was exiled to his native village.

Over the past years, the Azerbaijani press has been a mirror of public opinion about the ongoing developments. In 1998 Azerbaijan’s National Leader Heydar Aliyev abolished censorship. This decision gave an impetus to further development of the national press.

Today, successfully formation and development of a strong and independent press is underway in Azerbaijan – a press which is the bearer of objective information, as well as demonstrating commitment to the principles of statehood and adherence to national interests. This is the main course of the state policy regarding to press.

All necessary conditions have been created to ensure the freedom of speech and press in Azerbaijan. Currently, more than 4,000 mass media have passed the state registration. Most of them are newspapers and magazines, over 30 news agencies and 44 electronic media.

Azerbaijan also is the member of the global information system. As many democratic countries, Azerbaijan established the Press Council and adopted a law on Mass Media, as well.

In late March 2009, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree to establish the State Support Fund for Mass Media under the President. The fund aims at improving conditions for freedoms of thought, speech and information in Azerbaijan, as well as to provide mass media with a governmental support.

The state appreciates the works of journalists, freedom of expression, political pluralism, and this is testified by measures taken to improve the living conditions of journalists and to solve their social problems.

On July 22 in 2013 some 156 journalists received apartments in accordance with the presidential order on measures taken to strengthen the social security of the Azerbaijani press workers. On the same day, the foundation for another apartment block for journalists was laid. Currently, the construction of a second building for 240 journalists is underway. The journalists are expected to receive apartments in this building in 2015.

Reforms are further conducted in the country creating conditions for a more widespread establishment of freedom of speech and press.

On this remarkable day, AzerNews congratulates all colleagues and wishes success!