Caucasus: Nov-Dec ‘08

Bombed Georgian radio station broadcasts again with IWPR’s help.

Caucasus: Nov-Dec ‘08

Bombed Georgian radio station broadcasts again with IWPR’s help.

Sunday, 11 January, 2009

Reporters are back on air at a Georgian radio station bombed and looted during August’s Georgia-Russia war, thanks to training and equipment supplied by IWPR.

On December 1, Gori-based Trialeti launched its new news service, which will go out every other Sunday.

“The first programme, which we composed with the assistance of IWPR trainers and which was about the impact of the Georgia-Russia war, turned out to be so interesting that for a whole week after it was broadcast we were showered with calls from gratified listeners,” said Sopo Gudadze, a Trialeti reporter, who along with a number of other journalists was given a month’s training by IWPR.

One of the station’s relay towers was destroyed when Russian planes bombed Gori in August, killing the tower watchman and seriously injuring several other members of staff. The station was also looted and lost vital equipment.

IWPR helped the station with the equipment it needed to function again.

“IWPR provided us with several computers, microphones, headphones, digital recorders, licensed editing software and whatever kit we need,” said Trialeti Director Lika Shamugia.

“In short, we’ve received everything that is necessary for a news service to function properly. This support mattered a lot to us after what Trialeti went through during the August war.”

IWPR started restructuring Trialeti’s news service in November, and offered suggestions on how to radically improve it.

“A total of 12 broadcasts, all of them covering the Georgia-Russia war theme, are to be produced, with support from IWPR, over the next six months,” said Nino Gerzmava, coordinator of the IWPR Tbilisi office’s radio projects.

During the training period, the radio’s journalists produced reports in real time. Simultaneously, the station’s technical and musical bases were refreshed, and some training was provided to its technical staff.

“Apart from technical support, IWPR helped us gain theoretical knowledge and practical experience,” said Nino Chibchiuri, director of Trialeti’s news service.

“Working according to IWPR standards is not easy, as we have to assimilate a lot of new things and collect a lot of information in a short period of time. At the same time, we are learning how to assemble and broadcast recorded materials.”

She said that previously the station’s news reports tended to last for five minutes, with badly-written scripts and poor technical quality.

“I’ve been chief of the news service for over a year now, but this is the first time I have been able to produce a fully-fledged report for our radio,” she said.

The reports represent a new direction for the station, Shamugia said, since previously the radio news team was subordinate to the company’s television station, and had been ever since the company was created five years ago.

“We would cut the sound from the TV news footage and then, without any editing, would air it on radio,” Shamugia said.

The joint project, which is named Kvira, was launched at a presentation in Gori.

Representatives of the local and national media, as well as members of non-governmental organisations and high-ranking officials, attended the event.

Lado Vardzelashvili, the local governor, who was among the guests at the presentation, said he would listen closely to the broadcasts.

“The August events did not end in August,” he said. “That is why it is very important that society should be kept informed about the results of the conflict and the problems that emerged after the end of the fighting.”

The Trialeti assistance programme being carried out by IWPR is part of the Building Bridges/Building Capacity in the South Caucasus project supported by funding from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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