The Armenian news agency Razm.Info has launched an Azerbaijani language Facebook page HƏRBİ MEDİA (Military Media), in what is an unprecedented outreach by an Armenian non-governmental group to the Azerbaijani public. More than 1,000 Facebook users, mostly from Azerbaijan, signed up in the first few weeks of the project’s launch.
Razm.Info was created in 2011 by bloggers Vahagn Koreolan and Karen Vrtanesyan, who wanted to see more professional Armenian media coverage of military affairs and events in Karabakh. Their main Armenian page currently has about 50,000 followers on social media and is the leader for military news and expertise in Armenia. According to Vrtanesyan, the group has evolved into a kind of a think tank that receives private donations and earns fees from consulting services. Significantly they are also collaborating with a number of people fluent in Azerbaijani, which made Herbi Media possible.
Up until now only the Public Radio of Armenia and the official Nagorno Karabakh Radio have carried news translated into Azerbaijani, online and on airwaves. But with most Armenian internet domains inaccessible in Azerbaijan and foreign radio transmissions jammed, the radios’ ability to reach their intended audience was always limited.
Herbi Media can avoid these restrictions as long as social media like Facebook remains accessible in Azerbaijan. Razm.info has effectively moved to grab a market share that Azerbaijan-based media outlets cannot fill, because of the state censorship on military-related information and frequent news blackouts by official Azerbaijani sources.