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Transparency International launches regional news website

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, March 19, a new website launched by Transparency International Georgia (TI), launched on March 16. The site aggregates news in a space that aims to popularize media outlets in Georgia's rural regions.

Oriented towards raising awareness on topics that are important for the residents of oft-ignored regions, TI Georgia wants to spur discussion about some of the problems these people face.

During their trips to rural regions, TI Georgia’s team became familiar with the problems of local media. The organization hoped that international NGOs and the diplomatic corps could “play a significant role” in dealing with the these problems.

Although the main audience target for the website is foreigners, Eka Gigauri, the Executive Director of TI, believes that the Georgian public would also be interested in getting information from the regions, like stories of corruption, violations of local governance, and so on.

Confident in the responsibility of their partners, TI Georgia does not exert editorial control over the material they use for their site. “We translate the content of news published by information agencies,” Gigauri said, stressing the necessity for providing the international public with news from the regions.

Sandro Kevkhishvili, Media Monitoring Coordinator at Transparency International, heads the project. Cooperating with regional media outlets, the organisation brings important regional stories to a wider audience. But as Kevkhishvili explained, they cannot access all regional media outlets because many newspapers or media centres still lack an online presence.

“This project is not active yet, but we are now working on new ideas,” Kevkhishvili said, suggesting the engagement of volunteers. TI Georgia will give young journalists the opportunity to write their own stories. The creation of a “cell” of volunteers who would check the factual accuracy of the news would decrease the possibility of any bias.

Emphasizing the lack of volunteerism in Georgia, TI hopes people will overcome stereotypes and help others, and help the regions.