It’s freezing in snowy Akhaltsikhe and it is 6 p.m. My attempt to do street opinion poll will fail due to the cold and few people in the streets. I want to ask Akhaltsikhe residents two questions – Where do you receive information from? Do you trust the information sources?
I decided to try and kept thinking that it would be hard to talk the respondents into giving me an interview, as inTbilisi, usually people refrain from speaking out their opinion. And the population in the regions, I believe (stereotype) must be more unspeakable. In several minutes are change my opinion – no one refrains from answering my questions.
All ten questioned Akhaltsikhe residents said they randomly read local newspaper Southern Gate; they have not even noticed that the newspaper has not been issued for over a month already. They receive information from national TV-channels and get local news from Akhaltiskhe Ninth Channel.
Rimma Aslanyan, 50, actually summarized the answers of all the respondents to the question if they trust news received from TV-channels:
“I can see clearly who lies and who tells the truth. I watch the news and create my own opinion. When it will be necessary I will make a decision based on the given opinion.”
After speaking with regular citizens the next day I get acquainted with the specifics of the operation of the local TV-broadcaster Ninth Channel. When comparing their work with the national broadcasters I notice a few differences:
a) Ninth Channel reports on local news and works with countrywide news only if they directly affect the population of Akhaltsikhe region. Echo, the news program of the Ninth Channel was just as interesting for me, Tbilisi resident, as it would be for local residents. Why? Because all the information reported during news program consisting of four reports was very useful for me. For example, here are the typical themes of the Ninth Channel news program: 1. increase of prices of New Year products – sellers and buyers facing losses. 2. Changes made to the election legislation. 3. Certification exams. 4. Fungus which appeals at those who permanently wears second-hand clothing.
Chronology of the news program of national broadcasters is as follows: 1. Russian economy is dying; or Putsin’s rating is falling; or Russian Ruble devaluated. 2. Speech of the President of Georgia (minimum half an hour); or a live broadcast from a governmental session, which is held either in Sataplia cave, or Batumi Sheraton Hotel – topic of course the flourishing of Georgia and destruction of Russia. 3. A video-report about criminal acts (of course full of bloody shots). 4. And finally and inevitably a negative video-report about businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili.
b) National channels often make their reports based on information received from press-releases, meaning that news, often useless, get to them themselves. Ninth Channel journalists collect news by going from a village to a village.
As result the Ninth Channel reports on ruined roads, damaged pipes, increase of natural gas fee (local legislation does not consider increase of natural gas fee,) At the same time in Imedi TV news program we see a new rubric dedicated to stories about how Georgian government rebuilds and develops towns and cities throughout the country.