by Emil Sanamyan
Published: Friday July 10, 2009
WASHINGTON - The inaugural (1.0) edition of this review looked at the most popular Armenian themes online. This edition will go beyond general-interest subjects, like popular music and computer games, and will examine a more politically and professionally sensitive subject: Where do English-speaking (and -reading) people get Armenian news online?
Starting where most Internet users do, at Google.com, and typing "Armenian news," as I just did, the top three results you see are the aggregator PanArmenian.net of Yerevan, Asbarez.com of Glendale, and the website for the Armenian government's Armenpress news agency. They are followed by a link to Google's own very popular news site that amalgamates news from news sources all over the world.
It is not surprising that according to Compete.com, a leading Internet traffic monitoring website, the top three Google search results for "Armenian news" are also some of more frequently visited Armenian websites among Internet users in the United States. (The site does not measure international traffic.)
According to the latest data, the following are the most popular Armenian news sources in the United States by the average number of monthly unique visitors they have attracted so far this year (in 1,000s):
Site 1st half of 2009 2nd half of 2008 (rank) Change
PanArmenian (Yerevan) 5.5 5.6 (2) -0.1
Asbarez (Glendale) 5.0 3.5 (3) +1.5
A1+ (Yerevan) 4.7 2.9 (4) +1.8
Armenian Weekly (Watertown) 4.3 1.4 (8) +2.9
Armenian Reporter (Yerevan) 4.0 2.0 (7) +2.0
Armenia Now (Yerevan) 3.6 6.3 (1) -2.7
Armtown (Chicago) 2.8 2.6 (5) +0.2
Azad Hye (Dubai) 2.8 0.9 (10) +1.9
RFE/RL-Armenian (Prague) 2.7 2.5 (6) +0.2
Public Radio (Yerevan) 1.9 1.1 (9) +0.8
The data is limited to U.S. traffic only and to news sources with top-level website names; therefore the popular Groong News Service that combines Armenian news from various sources and is hosted on the USC.edu domain could not be measured.
As the table shows, most top sites gained readers in the last six months. This newspaper has done rather well since launching regular its new website last September (and our Watertown, Mass., colleagues have been doing even better).
But overall readership is quite modest even by comparison to other regional news sources. One of the leading Turkish news sites, Hurriyet, got an average of 90,000 unique U.S. visitors a month so far this year on the Compete.com scale; and Azerbaijan's Trend news agency scored about 7,500 hits a month.
Reflecting the confrontation with Russia (and also possible hacking attempts) the number of unique visitors to the Civil Georgia news site peaked at more than 18,000 last August. But a subsequent sharp drop in interest in Georgia brought the number of visitors to less than 2,000 a month this year.
Of non-Armenian sites that regularly cover the larger region, the U.S.-sponsored Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) had one of the larger U.S. readerships with an average of 60,000 hits a month.
But as in Soviet days, RFE/RL struggled to keep up with Pravda. The former official Communist Party publication turned privately owned tabloid, averaged 400,000 unique visitors in the same period.
In the big league, there was little competition for the Cable News Network (CNN), which averaged nearly 30 million unique visitors a month this year. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal were a distant second and third, at about 15 and 11 million visitors, respectively.
Compete.com cautions that its statistics are limited in scope and are not an exact science, especially for "low sample" sites with relatively low traffic like the Armenian ones.
Indeed, our own tracking (through Google's services) shows that the monthly average number of visits to reporter.am from the United States for the first six months of 2009 was 9,095, not the 4,000 shown by Compete.com. Such discrepancies probably exist for the other sites listed here.
That said, Compete.com is also one of a few commonly available ways to analyze the relative popularity of online media. Visit the site for information on how the data is compiled.
And send your reactions to Emil.Sanamyan@reporter.am.
UPDATE: If one is to believe Quantcast.com data over Compete's, the Reporter would be ranked first in the table above.