Information agency info9.ge which has been operating for about a month now aims to keep the citizens living in and outside Georgia informed about developments in the regions. News on info9.ge are being posted in the Georgian and English languages.
The agency which employs about 50 camera crews nationwide was founded by TV company Channel 9. According to the info9.ge’s Director Manana Eliashvili the channel is funded by the founders of the channel. Channel 9 was founded by Ekaterina Khvedelidze, the spouse of the Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, the leader of the political coalition Georgian dream. The info9.ge premises are located in Chavchavadze Ave, Tbilisi, on the 11th floor of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s charity foundation Cartu.
Kinship with Ivanishvili’s family, according to Manana Eliashvili, creates no problems to the agency. Editorial independence is the reason, she said reporting to Media.ge.
“No one is meddling into our activities or issuing directives. I am sure the funding provided by Ivanishvili’s wife is not going to incur any problems if we follow journalism standards.”
All of the info9.ge journalists are guided by the Reuters editorial principles when producing news. The agency employs experienced journalists as well as novice ones that are being provided on-site trainings to get better aware of professional specifics.
“We started providing trainings within a week following the launch of our activities. The main thing we instruct our trainees in is that the news being produced should not based on rumors, should be verified and representing both parties. The number of users visiting our website to learn news makes me think, many people trust us now,” says Eliashvili.
Even though the agency was launched just a month ago, she said, the Georgian page of the website counts 7-8 daily visitors on average. About 25 pieces of news are posted on the website on a daily basis. According to the website management info9.ge will be offering promo for half a year that will enable users to download published materials for free. Six months later the website will be charging its visitors.
The agency is focused on regional news since the developments in the Georgian regions are provided less coverage.
“Tbilisi residents are being provided info about the developments in the capital while regional media is covering developments locally. Tbilisi is almost unaware of the developments in the regions. We aimed to cover problems or good news taking place in every town or village,’ said Manana Eliashvili.
When seeking for journalists in the regions, Eliashvii said, the agency faced problems. For instance, Info9.ge dispatched several employees to Akhaltsikhe but they refused to work in Samtskhe-Javakheti. Most likely, the agency director said, the reporters faced pressure.
The cases of pressure on journalists were observed in Tsalenjikha and Akhmeta. Referring to Info9.ge Media.ge reported on the aforementioned on June 8. According to Manana Eliashvili the reporters having faced pressure refused to apply to the court. In regard to two more cases of pressure journalists refused to identify themselves. One of them, reporting to Media.ge, said that reporting on the case would harm his family. According to the second one his relatives were threatened with imprisonment unless he left the region.
The agency aims to cover all of the regions, increase the number of camera crews up to 200 and keep the Georgian citizens residing abroad informed. The main requirement of the agency to its reporters is obtaining exclusives.
Following the launch of info9.ge some Georgian journalists have been reporting on granting privileges to the agency by the Georgian political coalition Georgian Dream.
Gela Mtivlishvili reported on the aforementioned to Media.ge. According to him after the launch of info9.ge the Georgian Dream representatives provide the given agency with exclusive news to on the arrests or activities of the Coalition members.
Manana Eliashvili having refuted the reports clarified to Media.ge: “Everyone is interested to have all media outlets informed of pressure or other events, if there is any. I don’t understand what Gela is talking about. The only clarification is that our journalists keep moving around to glean info while Gela Mtivlishvili might be waiting to be called and provided news. Under the circumstances we would be the first being notified.”