More than 45 Georgian media professionals and NGO workers came together for specialized training by IREX Europe through the Making Waves – Community Radio Project funded by the European Union. The workshops in Tbilisi and Batumi were designed to help journalists, editors, and civil society professionals better understand each other, and to tap each other more effectively as sources and resources.
The three three-day trainings held in May and July 2007 were led by IREX Europe Director Mike de Villiers and based on training modules developed by IREX to reflect the extensive experiences of its Media Development and Civil Society Divisions. The workshop manual was translated into Georgian and given to participants to enable them to conduct the same trainings for their colleagues.
Civil society specialist Archil Kikodze provided the local Georgian expertise and context for the workshops, and led sessions on religious and ethnicity issues. He is now able to lead similar trainings within Georgia using the IREX manual. Making Waves Project Leader Lika Chakunashvili presented sessions on Georgian media law and other legal provisions that touch on media issues dealing with diversity and minority rights.
The training used multiple practical exercises, including role playing, producing news releases, and presentations of participants’ work for testing against an audience. For the NGOs, much of the focus was on how to better engage the media to get their issues out to the public and influence local and national decision makers. Exercises included how to design media campaigns, handle interviews, and present their areas of expertise in ways that will result in compelling stories within the media.
For the journalists, the concern was how to work with NGOs as a resource and as a source for issue-based reporting. Exercises included producing issue-based stories and how to sensitively handle difficult subjects such as sexual assault or human trafficking. The workshop included exercises on accuracy, context, accountability, and story structure. At the workshop conclusion, the journalists were tasked with compiling reports on issues researched during the training.
Making Waves is implemented by IREX Europe in partnership with the BBC World Service Trust and Studio Re in Georgia. In addition to support from the European Union, co-funding has been provided by the Global Conflict Prevention Pool through the British Embassy in Tbilisi, the Open Society Institute in Georgia, and the Eurasia Foundation in Georgia. The project aims to promote the rights of ethnic and religious minority groups in Georgia through establishing two independent sustainable community radio stations in the ethnic enclaves of Ninotsminda (Javakheti) and Marneuli (Kvemo Kartli). The stations broadcast predominantly in Armenian and Azeri and are run by a core team of local journalists with significant input from volunteers on the programming and managerial sides. Program goals include raising awareness of diversity issues and the rights of ethnic minorities and the responsibilities of journalists and journalism, as well as fostering more and better issue-based reporting and improved relations between NGOs and the media.