Maxim Minchev (BTA Director General): It was mainly the news agencies who carried out the information campaign during the pandemic

Maxim Minchev, Director General of BTA, expects changes to markets and also to states, due to the corona-crisis. In his opinion, news agencies have become even more relevant during the pandemic. 

Bulgaria was not hit very hard by the Corona-virus. How did the Bulgarian media cross the pandemic?

It was hard. The Bulgarian media didn’t actually cross it, they rushed right into it (not in a literal way, thank God), especially in the second half of March and the first half of April when more than 80% of the media contents was dedicated to the virus, and that holds true to BTA, too. I’m glad to say, the Bulgarian media did their job.

Did the Bulgarian state provide any aid for the media during the crisis? Did BTA benefit from any help from the state during the past months?

All media asked for some kind of financial aid from the state during the crisis. So far, all we’ve got are promises.

How did BTA work to protect its journalists?

BTA did what is known and what was expected to be done: over 85% of the work was done from home-offices, all the newsrooms were separated, according to the state and health institutions’ orders and instructions; overall disinfection was performed on a daily basis; whereas, administration-wise, the so-called front-liners among the editorial staff were additionally given bonus fees.

Do you think news agencies are more or less relevant during this crisis?

Definitely more relevant. I think it was mainly the news agencies who carried out the information campaign – at least I can certainly say that about BTA. It’s another question whether the other traditional media like TV, Radio and the written press would be willing to admit it. Social media, though, were expected to do better.

Do you expect any problems for BTA, economical or other type, generated by the pandemic?

I do. Over the 123-year-long existence of BTA, excluding the two world wars, this has been the greatest challenge for our agency. It’s both strange and new and its impact on the nation would work on many levels: from problems and changes to the market to problems and changes to the state.

Interview by Alexandru Giboi (EANA Secretary General) for the "EANA Top Voices" project.