Azerbaijan and its social environment were affected by the reconstruction of the country after being part of the USSR. The establishment of Azadliq (Freedom) newspaper in 1989 is historically considered as the symbol of the nation’s revival, as the outlet is considered the first example of independent press. It started publishing on December 24, 1989 and its leader was the well-known journalist Najaf Najafov. Azadliq was the voice of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan and faced draconian criminal charges which resulted in stopping it from functioning. In September 2016, the newspaper was closed but its website it is still operational, yet blocked in the country, and its Facebook page is also regularly updated. The Gasid Company, which distributed the newspaper, did not pay its debt to the newspaper, which amounted to US$30,000. Because of the debts, newspaper staff are not allowed into the offices, which are located in the building of the Azerbaijan Publishing House.
Yeni Müsavat (New Musavat) was one of the leading opposition newspapers until 2013. It was known for its radical criticism of the current government and its editor-in-chief was repeatedly detained; some of the employees were subjected to pressure and some left the country. The newspaper is no longer the body of any political party and has downplayed its criticism of the government. It has adopted a distinguished stance of loyalty to authority.
Zerkalo was one of the most popular Russian-language publications in Azerbaijan and in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The printed version ceased its activity mainly because of financial impropriety and the arrest of one of its employees, which negatively affected all operations. The newspaper is still active online.
State-owned Azerbaijan is a public journal published by the National Assembly of Azerbaijan, Khalg Gazeti is also a state-owned newspaper published by the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan, while Respublika is associated to the Cabinet of Ministers. All these newspapers are controlled by the Government.
The independent social and political newspaper Echo was founded in January 2001 but closed-down completely in 2018 because of its financial problems and the death of editor-in-chief Rauf Talyshinsky.
The press is no longer the most trusted media and doesn’t play a crucial role in society. Online news portals and social networks have replaced it as main source of information, also because newspapers do not reach outer regions and villages. Their distribution is largely limited to Baku. The only three regional newspapers Cənub xəbərləri (The Southern News) in Masalli, Mingəçevir işıqları (Mingachevir Lights) and Region mediası (Regional Media) in Shekhi, are constantly fighting for survival. One of the causes of this situation is the lack of an advertising market in the regions. Another point is that critics in the regions face more challenges there than in the capital: Local authorities are constantly interfering with the activities of an independent media in the region, as the number of independent media is small, and such journalists are few. Unlike Baku, there are more "favorable conditions" for pressures in the region. Finally, the lack of printing houses in the districts where they are based and the lack of personnel are also hindering the regional press.
Financial support for newspapers and free housing to journalists have been provided through the State Support Fund for the Development of Mass Media that was established by the President of Azerbaijan. While AZN32.4m (EUR17m) were allocated to media from the state budget for 2010-2018, funds allocated for the construction of free housing for journalists from the Reserve Fund of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan have reached AZN67m (EUR35m).
Recently, the Fund’s activities have been criticized even on state level due to the non-transparency of the distribution of state aid allocated for the media, as well as apartments in two multi-storey buildings built for journalists at the expense of the state. Simultaneously, Vugar Safarli was dismissed from post of Executive Director of Fund of State Support to the Development of Mass Media. Safarli was a close associate of Ali Hasanov, who was removed from the post of Presidential Assistant for political affairs last fall of 2019.