For the first time in Georgia, the power of community radio will be exploited to serve the needs and promote the rights of ethnic and religious minority groups. These goals are to be achieved through an EU-funded project entitled Making Waves: A Community Radio Project for Georgia and co-funded by the British Embassy Tbilisi Global Conflict Prevention Pool.
IREX Europe is implementing the project as part of a consortium led by the BBC World Service Trust and in partnership with the Tbilisi-based Association Studio Re. The project aims to establish two independent sustainable community radio stations in the ethnic enclaves of Ninotsminda (Javakheti) and Marneuli (Kvemo Kartli). The stations will broadcast predominantly in minority languages and will be run by a core team of local journalists with significant input from volunteers both on the programming and managerial side.
Through training local journalists and volunteers in broadcasting, management skills and radio production, the project will ensure the radio stations’ sustainability and long-term contribution to the preservation and positive representation of local cultural values. Through developing a bond of trust between minority groups and these two new media outlets, the project will encourage previously marginalized individuals to come forward and take part in open debates.
The project will also contribute to building wider capacity in the Georgian media and the NGO sector outside the two target regions.
Over the course of 18 months, at least 120 journalists from mainstream Georgian-language media will be trained in diversity reporting skills. The training will help them not only to rise above social prejudices and perceived stereotypes, but also to develop an appreciation of the consequences of irresponsible reporting in a multi-ethnic society. At least 48 senior editors will be given the opportunity to improve their newsroom management skills.
In addition, a total of 32 NGO workers will receive training in media skills. The training will improve interaction between the media and NGOs, thereby enabling Georgian media to connect more effectively with minority groups.
By establishing two community radios for the Azeri and Armenian minorities, and through wider training for journalists and NGO workers across Georgia, the project will enhance the media’s ability to include and represent a broad cross-section of society. It will also serve to forge links between the media and NGOs as well as between the media and community leaders.