With help from the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Sourcefabric and Transitions Online are helping to develop three regional news sites in Georgia: livepress.ge, tspress.ge and ick.ge.
Sourcefabric frequently visits Georgia to monitor the progress of these organisations and to find solutions to problems they face. In July 2011 in Tbilisi we held meetings and workshops with local independent media outlets, NGOs and journalism students. After the trip it was decided to create a Georgian forum which will let local users interact with each other and with the Sourcefabric team. Today's blogpost focus is on one of these three news sites - Livepress.ge. In the next two weeks we will also introduce the other participants from the project.
Livepress.ge is a regional news site mostly covering the western part of Georgia. The site was launched on May 5, 2011 by Geronti Kalichava and a few others. "We were planning to hold a special presentational event for our website, however suddenly we've heard about drunk policemen shooting in a churchyard. We decided to write about it and publish on Livepress.ge, that's why the site launched weeks before it was planned," said 30-year-old Kalichava who lives in Zugdidi in Western Georgia.
Livepress.ge employees nine people, four reporters are located in Zugdidi, and one per city in Mestia, Poti and Sokhumi in the breakaway region of Abkhazia. The site's focuses are typical for Georgian media: politics, economics, society and culture. The site is known for its in-depth coverage of Western Georgia, but there is a special section called "Sakartvelo" (Georgia), that is designated for coverage from other regions.
Livepress.ge promotes citizen journalism, by letting people write blogposts and submit multimedia material that will get read by Livepress.ge's audience. "We have 500-700 visitors daily who are from Georgia, Russia, USA, Germany, Poland, etc," said Kalichava.
There have been cases when a story covered by Livepress.ge brought a concrete action by authorities. In one of such cases, "a mother of a young boy who got beaten up by a policeman brought photos of her son and told us his story. We wrote about it and on a next day head of the local police department was fired and then convicted," said Kalichava. "Only after that did national TV stations cover this story."
The most popular posts are those from Abkhazia (Georgia's breakaway region). Georgian society is very much interested in what is going on the other side of the river. "Our reporter, Amra Adleyba, has no problem reporting and the stories we get from Abkhazia are timely and trustworthy."
At the moment, Livepress.ge is looking for means of financial support, "It is very hard to attract advertisement on a website in this region; I don't know whether it is related to politics, or whether business is not interested in online advertising," said Kalichava.
Livepress is working on its layout and is planning to re-launch its website in November, 2011. The current site can be found at livepress.ge . Take a sneak look at the new layout over at the test site (under construction).
Get our newsletter: