TAP Open Lecture by Sohrab Ahmari (photo American University of Armenia)

The Armenia Project Raises Global Awareness about Armenia

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YEREVAN — The Armenia Project (TAP), a new non-profit focused on journalism, media and communications, announced its official launch on April 4 and unveiled its website, www.armeniaproject.org. This announcement follows a soft launch in 2023 that has already made significant strides in telling Armenia’s complex and fascinating story with the broad mission of promoting the country’s democratic and economic development.

Based in Armenia with a growing global network, TAP was founded with three core areas of focus: facilitating journalist travel from across the globe to report on Armenia firsthand; impactful storytelling about Armenia’s rich culture, heritage and geopolitical realities, in traditional and new media; and investing in young journalists, influencers and media professionals, both in-country and from abroad, through internships, trainings and mentoring.

“Armenia is a nascent democracy that boasts a vibrant economy, spectacular cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty,” said Edele Hovnanian, president of the H. Hovnanian Family Foundation, which founded TAP as the first organization of its kind. “Our goal is to seed that inspiring story globally and support journalists, media professionals, researchers and students to learn more about this extraordinarily unique country, and to develop the connections to ensure that Armenia’s perspective, along with its regional and geopolitical realities, are covered accurately in the Western media.”

The idea behind TAP was incubated shortly after the 2020 War by the H. Hovnanian Foundation and the Tufenkian Foundation collaborating with a small team of global communications professionals working together as volunteers. TAP continues to partner with the Tufenkian Foundation on related projects.

In the months since its soft launch, TAP has spearheaded a series of initiatives that have shed light on regional geopolitical dynamics, Armenia’s cultural richness, its growing tech sector and its thriving tourism landscape. These are all in marked contrast to the familiar but oversimplified and incomplete narrative of a small, landlocked former Soviet Republic beset by conflicts with neighbors.

TAP’s notable achievements to date include facilitating trips for journalists from diverse backgrounds, countering the relative lack of foreign media presence in Armenia. These visits have begun elevating Armenia’s profile on a global stage and fostering a deeper understanding of its challenges and opportunities.  TAP has also helped publish op-eds and articles in leading international news outlets and major media; these pieces were further amplified on social media.

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“There is much more to Armenia than headlines about conflict and unfair media coverage driven by the misinformation put forth by neighboring aggressors,” explained TAP board chair Arda Nazerian, a strategic communications advisor who has long volunteered her professional skills to Armenian causes she’s passionate about. “For years, many of us knew that accurate, timely and relevant stories about Armenia weren’t being told, for many reasons. TAP is working strategically to patiently, methodically and impactfully change all that.”

TAP’s commitment to education and professional development is evident in an ongoing series of workshops, panels and webinars, which have drawn the participation of journalists, academics and thought leaders. Among them was a state-of-journalism webinar in November 2023, “Gaza, Ukraine, and Nagorno-Karabakh: The Challenges of Covering Conflict Today,” held in collaboration with the American University of Armenia Media Lab and the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and a lecture just last month titled “The Fake-News Quagmire: Why We’re in It and How to Get Out.” Training sessions have included workshops on how to engage journalists on newsworthy stories, how to develop thoughtful, timely and relevant opinion pieces, how to seed Armenia’s story across the burgeoning social media ecosystem, and how local journalists can get published in the international media.

TAP board member Tatiana Der Avedissian, a communications and sustainability expert who volunteers her time to support multiple charitable endeavors, reinforced the importance of bridging the knowledge gap about Armenia through education and storytelling. “Armenia’s charm lures you in as soon as you’re on the ground. We want to ensure that as many journalists and thought leaders as possible, including the leaders of tomorrow, experience Armenia. The country boasts a remarkable history dating back thousands of years, a fantastic contemporary culture and thriving economy that make it such an appealing place to visit again and again. Only through powerful storytelling and engagement can the world understand the true wonder of Armenia.”

TAP’s other early achievements include serving as an advisor to international and local organizations operating in the communications space in Armenia, providing strategic and practical guidance from TAP’s global network.

It has nurtured the next generation of journalists through TAP’s international internship program. To date TAP has hosted interns from prestigious universities and journalism programs, including University of Southern California’s Annenberg School, the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and King’s College London, facilitating valuable hands-on experiences and forging strong partnerships. TAP aims to expand its internship program and welcome four new interns in the summer of 2024.

TAP has placed full-page advertisements in the Washington Post and New York Times during the UN General Assembly and US Senate hearings on Azerbaijan’s blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023.

It has established a voice in important discussions through close collaborations with Armenia-based English-language news sites EVN Report and CivilNet and the American University of Armenia’s new Media Lab to advise external partners in the communications space as they develop their own Armenia-related projects. It also enhanced the capabilities of communications and public relations professionals striving to elevate global storytelling and strategic communications efforts about Armenia.

With the official launch of TAP, its website will serve as a hub for its activities and resources, providing an intuitive and informative experience for users.

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