Sunday, November 27, 2005

Support HETQ

Dear Readers:

Every month this year, more than 33,000 people have read the Armenian and English versions of Hetq. That more than 33,000 people are interested in the subjects we cover in our weekly reports is cause for rejoicing. Poverty, the environment, corruption, offenses against the law by the government and oligarchs… We have tried to focus our attention on these issues over the last three years and to utilize investigative journalism as a way to uncover the negative things taking place in our country and to assist, within the limits of our abilities, in overcoming them.

Investigative journalism is hard work. It means studying an issue in detail, gathering and weighing the facts, and verifying them with the people and organizations concerned. Sometimes it takes months of work, and travel to different regions in Armenia and abroad to put an article together, which, of course, implies serious expenditures.

There are subjects that our weekly is unable to address because we lack the financial resources. For example, in order to investigate the exploitation of the mines in Syunik Marz, and the sale of these mines to foreign companies, we would need to send reporters and photographers to this remote region of Armenia and provide them with everything they need to stay there for a considerable period of time and conduct an independent investigation. Or, we haven't been able to conclude our investigation of the situation in the Calcutta College, because we can't check the facts at our disposal on the spot. The same holds true for our reports on human trafficking – a phenomenon that requires visits to Turkey, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates, again, impossible because of a lack of resources. Sometimes, in the course of an investigation, criminal links lead to other former Soviet republics and we are unable to fully investigate these cases. For similar reasons, we do not report as often as we would like to on social and economic problems in Nagorno Karabakh and the border regions of Armenia.

The translation of our articles into English also requires serious expenditures. The demand for the English version of our weekly is especially high abroad, but we are unable to translate many of our articles.

An investigative weekly loses its meaning if it is not independent. This is something the people we target in our reports understand very well. They offer us financial assistance, but we know what financing by a state official, an oligarch, or a partisan organization might mean for an independent media outlet—a loss of independence, bias, an inability to report on certain subjects. This is why we decline, categorically and in principle, any outside offer of financial support.

For our uninterrupted operation over three years, we thank the Embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom , and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway. They have supported us mainly in putting together our English version – by financing the translation, in particular. We would like to stress that such assistance is usually provided to help get an organization like ours on its feet, to start it on a journey. It is not intended to be regular, or unlimited. Once again, we are grateful, and believe it is thanks to this support that Hetq has 33,000 readers today.

We have a stable readership, but we don't have a guarantee of sustainable existence or development. In recent months, the members of our organization have had frequent discussions on the future of Hetq. The pessimists among us suggest closing the weekly down, believing that we can't continue working like this for long. The businesslike people think that we should charge a fee. The optimists suggest appealing to our readers.

I reject the proposals to shut Hetq Online down, or to charge for it. They are unacceptable, if only because we have a responsibility to our readers to provide them with independent and unbiased information, and independent information loses its meaning when it is inaccessible to general readers.

In the end, we have chosen the optimists' proposal – believing in our readers' commitment and loyalty. And so we are appealing to you, asking for your assistance in preserving and developing independent journalism in Armenia. I am confident that your right to be informed is important to each and every one of you, and I believe that none of you will hesitate to give $12 a year to make use of that right.

Thanking you in advance,

With best wishes,

Edik Baghdasaryan
Editor-in chief, Hetq
Chairman, Investigative Journalists of Armenia

Alternatively, you can wire transfer your amount to our bank account:

A/C No.: 001-202613-120
HSBC Bank Yerevan Branch
Swift: MIDLAM22
Correspondent Bank in USA:
HSBC Bank USA, New York US
Swift: MRMDUS33
Beneficiary Bank A/C No. 000-05145-4

You can notify us by email that you made a wire transfer:

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