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Tuesday, 07 January 2014 11:30

APA is an agency that holds a special place among Azerbaijani mass media – President of APA holding VUSALA MAHIRGIZI

APA is an agency that holds a special place among Azerbaijani mass media – President of APA holding VUSALA MAHIRGIZI

“Now we want to create a website that will enable readers to express themselves: download video, write comments, hold interesting discussions, debates, and stay in contact with people who are of interest to them. There is no such internet-media in Azerbaijan for now. I guess this portal will attract much attention”, President of APA Holding Vusala Mahirgizi said in her exclusive interview with First Class.

First Class (FC): Since when has APA started operating in the media market?

Vusala Mahirgizi, President of APA Holding: We started operating in November 2004. We passed a registration and began working as an agency. Later, we commissioned portal in Azerbaijani language. Our website was opened later in the Russian language. APA-Sport, the only sports agency of Azerbaijan, also belongs to us. Apart from this, noteworthy is the monthly journal Economist released in the Russian language as well as literature journal.

Now we work on creation of APA TV which shall be launched in upcoming months (March-April).

This year we have created a single holding APA on the eve our anniversary by uniting all our companies. I am the President of the holding. Nurshan Guliyev is a Chairman of the Board of Directors and also a General Director of APA.



FC: Do you find APA to be successful agency?

Vusala Mahirgizi: Yes I do find APA a successful project. I fined APA an agency that has a special place among Azerbaijani mass media. There used to be agencies engaged in certain sphere before us: agencies writing only about policy and economy. We are the only world model agency that has been successfully operating in Azerbaijan. Even if it were not me who created this agency, I would consider it to be an absolutely new stage in the Azerbaijani press. 



FC: Do you watch over the number of readers?

Vusala Mahirgizi: Of course I do. Speaking about APA, I would like to note that the rating of world agencies is not measured by the number of its readers. There have been many agencies operating on basis of a classical model both in Azerbaijan and in the world. I.e. they shut their websites for common use and provide them only for special clients. But we apply both versions in APA: there is a part available for common use, and there is also a part designed only for clients on a paid basis. The rating of the agency depends on the demand for its information, on the frequency of references that Mass Media makes on it, and on the range of distribution of its products. The importance and exclusiveness of its news are determined by the number of references made on them. From this standpoint, APA has no competitors in Azerbaijan for now.

We also have other websites (,, where I attach big importance to the amount of people reading news as the readership is a key issue here. All of them are news websites that also attract attention of advertisers and clients. It helps to cover their expenses owing to means gained from advertisement. Therefore, every reader and a page read by people are of importance to us. We have a very serious monitoring group. We monitor both our local and foreign references. This monitoring runs in a very thorough manner because if we expect at least 3000 reders of single news and get only 2000, then we discuss this moment and try to find out the reason why we miss 1000 readers: we check if we put this news on time, if there is a problem with a heading, or if we made a mistake when selecting photos. Therefore, we attach importance not only to every reader but also on each minute he or she spent on certain news as it affects our revenues. It is of big importance to us.



FC: What kind of materials do you prefer writing?

Vusala Mahirgizi: It has been a while since I wrote last. I often consider myself a journalist of the past. Dealing with administrative affairs leave no time for writing. But at that period when I was actively engaged in journalism I wrote about policy and other news. In general, for me journalism consists of news. I think it is the news that is a mother of journalism. News should underlie interviews and reports one can provide. I always headed the department of news. Political analyses were made on most of materials I wrote about.



FC: Do you plan to place additional languages in your portals? Are there any other plans on perspective development?

Vusala Mahirgizi: An idea to create a section (in the Armenian language) at APA’s website came to our mind long time ago. We also have ready software. However, we still look for competent translators. Meanwhile, we would like to add Persian and Spanish languages. We will probably have it launched this year.

We have a lot of new projects. We are currently working on transformation of website into a large portal with broad portfolio. Presentation of this project may probably take place in coming month. It is going to be something that shall serve the readership. So far it used to be a news website which published news only. Now we want to create a website that will enable readers to express themselves: download video, write comments, hold interesting discussions, debates, and stay in contact with people who are of interest to them. There is no such internet-media in Azerbaijan for now. I guess this portal will attract much attention. I wish APA had its own PR and advertising agency just like other world agencies do. There are many projects and ideas. Internet media is a sphere that has recently appeared in Azerbaijan and has many gaps.  Being one of the vanguard companies engaged in this sphere, we would like to fill in these gasps when possible. Projects abound indeed. However, we still have to train human resources who will implement these projects. Time is needed for training each person seperately. Sometimes a man regrets that he has very little time for getting something done as time goes quickly. I plan to implement several more projects if I have time.



FC: What your career started from?

Vusala Mahirgizi: I entered a philological faculty of the Baku State University in 1996. I am not a journalist by profession. But I decided to work as a journalist while studying at the philological faculty because it was an area that I wanted to be engaged in. I began working a journalist since I was a freshman. I worked for “Hurriyet”, “Baku University”, and “Bu gun” newspapers. Then, I was appointed a head of the news department at “Bu gun” newspaper. Later, I worked a political correspondent for Gunaydin and Azadlig newspapers. “Khalg Cebhesi” (National Front) newspaper was created in 2001. It was the first daily newspaper published on daily basis since its creation. Meanwhile, daily newspapers used to be released once or twice a week at that period. Only then, their publishing switched to a daily basis. I was an editor in chief of this newspaper from 2001 until 2003. I left that newspaper in 2004 and created APA agency in 2004.

In the meantime, I am a member of the Press Council of Azerbaijan. For now I am the only woman in this union. I was awarded the rank of honorary journalist in accordance with the order of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.




FC: What are the short-comings of this profession?

Vusala Mahirgizi: In my opinion, popularity is the only short coming of this profession as people show a serious interest toward popular professions. Journalism is a sphere that can make a person a star. It is not always professionals who choose this profession. Sometimes, there are more amateurs than professionals. People wish to express themselves and become famous. Part of them engages in show business, the other part chooses journalism. Today you may hire any young reporter, a boy or a girl, send them to an event where they will probably seat and drink tea with a person who was their idol throughout their whole life. I.e. the journalism does provide such benefits. The youth finds it very attractive and interesting. As the result, people choosing this sphere don’t turn out professionals always. They choose this sphere without a wish to become a journalist. They simply consider this profession as a certain stage for making certain acquaintances and passing to another sphere. I find it to be a negative side of this profession. You are in the limelight once people talk about you. If you step back then they simply forget about you.

I guess I would be a journalist if I were born again because there is no way I can imagine getting news from someone else but me. I think I have already got used to provision of news to people. Sometimes when I am away on a business trip I turn on TV and see my counterpart who reports information.  I start feeling uncomfortable thinking why I have not been informed about this news in my “news kitchen”. I mean my office. A certain syndrome of “unacceptability” arises in me. I love journalism as it is a very dynamic sphere. When coming to office in the morning I often tell our employees that no one knows what we will face throughout a day. Sometimes it is successful and sometimes it is full of bad news. Our mood changes depending on the news we write.

It is noteworthy that we do the same work every day from the technical standpoint. However, we will not place the news that we wrote yesterday. It inspires us to do new things. Maybe I like this sphere because my being a person who likes changes.



FC: How many hours a day do you work?

Vusala Mahirgizi: My day usually begins at 10 am and ends at 3 or 4 am if no accidents happen. Sometimes my working day starts from the phone call that I get at 8 am. I return home at 8-9 o’clock in the evening and spend time with my family. Then, I seat at my computer and work till 2-3 am after my daughter falls asleep.



FC: Would you like your daughter to follow your steps?

Vusala Mahirgizi: No. I am not going to interfere in my daughter’s decisions. Despite I grew up in the rural area, my parents were quite democratic people. My father did not interfere in our choice concerning our profession and founding a family. My daughter will be engaged in the sphere she chooses on her own. She will live the way she wants to live. Of course I will feel upset if my daughter decides to become a journalist simply because of her mother’s position. I want her to be engaged in her favorite business. Sometimes a person may part with a family, get married and divorced. However, a profession stays one of the loyal friends of a person. A person lives with it throughout a whole life. Therefore, I would never wish her to make a mistake when choosing an occupation. I may give advices, support but never interfere in this issue.



FC: What feature do you value in people?

Vusala Mahirgizi: I value honesty and loyalty. I attach big importance to people’s honesty because the lie will anyway leak out and become known. Another feature is loyalty. Where ever a person is, he may change both an opinion and a way. However, one should not overpass the border he sets for himself. Each person has a certain category “you mustn’t” that can not be ignored.



FC: Which literature do you prefer? What is your favorite book?

Vusala Mahirgizi: As I have already mentioned, I am a philologist by profession. Therefore, there is no book that I have not read. I read books written both by new and old writers. I also prefer reading a world literature. I have recently read about philosophy of imagination. I have read Rumi, Alif Shafag, Iskandar Palu, works of Markes, and last writings of Umberto Eco. I read all new published books. My favorite book is The Old Man and the Sea written by Ernest Hemingway. I have read it several times. It is not a big writing and if I am not mistaken it was awarded the Nobel Prize for 4 times. There is some self-sacrifice and certain fight in this book. Even though the old man remains with nothing but the fish skeleton, he made attempts in all cases. I really love this book as it is very interesting. In general, no movies, books, sons can capture me. But this is the only book that makes me think I am on the shore of the ocean when reading it.


FC: How do you prefer spending your free time?

Vusala Mahirgizi: I like sparing time for my daughter because I practically do not manage to see the way she grows up. Sometimes I like to go for shopping when I have free time. I guess all women prefer shopping when they try to overcome a stress. I also like reading, when I am alone. I arrange thoughts in my head. I listen to music no matter it is jazz, national, classical and world music. Sometimes I get tired of people because I associate with many people throughout a day both at the office and in social networks. Therefore, I like spending free time with my daughter or spending it alone.


FC: In which countries did you get rest and where did you like it most?

Vusala Mahirgizi: I like visiting foreign countries with my family because these trips let a person relax. I usually travel with my daughter on holidays. It is very interesting to travel with her. Her admiration, joy, and adult-related questions she asks at a time make these journeys very interesting. It is exactly what I call a real rest. There is usually little time for going to the cinema to watch something interesting. However, traveling is interesting once your family is beside you. We have visited Gabala this winter. We had visited Dubai and Europe before that. I really enjoyed my visit to Thailand.



FC: What would be your advice to beginning journalists?

Vusala Mahirgizi: Journalism is not one of favorite professions. It is one of the recognized professions. There are professions (doctors for instance) that people like. All like them except for children. Or it may be a profession of a teacher. Each person has sympathy toward a profession of teachers. Journalism is not among favorite profession. It is a sphere that demonstrates short comings of people and recognizes their labor. You should be a journalist who people talk about and say “yes he did revealed my short coming but he is a good journalist”.

People who get themselves engaged in this sphere must realize that. I often witness in social network the way young journalist fell offended about that.  But we should know what sphere we choose. A well known Turkish speaker Mamedali Birant has recently passed away. It caused mixed reaction both in Turkey and Azerbaijan. There was a split in opinions even after his death. Some people mourned for his death, others found it non necessary. A journalist may never be a favorite person for all. A person who chooses this profession must know that. They are not soccer players or teachers whom all like. There will always be people who dislike them and this is the reason why they will be considered good journalists as they managed to reveal something important and bring to attention of the community.

One thing is noteworthy that I always listened to everybody. Considering both my age and position I find myself to be one of successful persons in Azerbaijan. I find it to be a key for my success. I always listened to everybody but did things that my heart directed me to do. I advise it to all people engaged in this sphere so that they do things their heart and mind tells them to do. A lot depends on it in the journalism. I did it in all projects. For instance, I discussed a certain project with my friends but did everything in a way I found appropriate.

For instance, in case of project some of my friends told me that it would not be successful as it was not of great interest. I believed in its success, implemented it and hit the white. 

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