Maia Mamulashvili from Georgia was one of three 2018 IFAJ Scholars who was awarded an IFAJ-Caterpillar Development Bursary for a special communications project. Following is her report.
Free Media Principles and Agricultural Journalism in Eastern Europe
- The aim of the principles for a free press and an agricultural sector with high-quality development of journalism when reporting on traditional agriculture, as an example, and these can be their own standards and professional skills for transaction-based industrial countries-based journalists and media organizations. To improve the professional standards, a special guideline will be prepared on the existing standards of free media, in which the main findings will be fully elaborated: free media and professional standards that assist the writers and journalists working for agro-journalism, as well as students and media professionals. The document’s report will include graphic and photo materials, with good examples that are translated into English. A prepared manual will be posted on the “Agromedia.ge’’platform and ”knews.ge” regional portal’’. In addition, the document will be presented to professional circles, and will be covered by the mainstream media outlets in Georgia.
- The research project strategy for this purpose is to obtain and process information from practising journalists, agro-communicators, writers and professional associations working in Eastern Europe. The connections that connect with the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) will help me to choose the right target audience. Experienced and very competent colleagues are ready to share information and their experience with Georgian journalists. Partially through online research, interviews, familiarity with the materials and focus groups, the information will be processed and the practical guide for the representatives of Georgian media will be produced to enhance their professional skills. A 3D online interview will be conducted with selected media practitioners, a focus group discussion in one of the Eastern Europe countries, which is closer to the Georgian situation, and media and journalists in these countries have good experience and tradition in agro-journalism. Eight media representatives will participate in the focus group. The study will have practical examples and visuals, a research report will be prepared as a guide. The guide will include basic information, standards and research findings. Good lists will be collected and delivered. The research guide will be published and delivered to Georgian journalists, as well as students and teachers of the journalism faculty. The short version of the guide will be translated into English and delivered to the IFAJ.
- As a result of the project, Georgian media representatives who are interested in coverage of agrarian issues will become available to the agro-media and standards will be established in the process of European transformation from post-Soviet countries. Including methods of ethics, agro-communication and professional skills that will ultimately facilitate Georgian journalists and media to get information and knowledge based on practical and concrete examples that will help them develop a better- and high-quality agro-media product. A research guide will be available for at least 50 practising professionals who cover agricultural issues on a daily basis and encourage citizens to be more informed in this field. In addition, the guide will be available for students and lecturers of journalism faculty of leading universities in Georgia, for which the results of international experience will be tangible. In addition, the materials prepared for better media standards will encourage citizens to engage in agriculture in Georgia and increase access to education in this regard.
- Guide for Project Beneficiaries – Practising journalists will be an auxiliary instrument for better performance in their professional duties, and the guide will facilitate the journalism faculty students and lecturers to inform the international media of the standards that, in the longer term, will create better practices.
Maia is a journalist by profession and has a master’s in media management from Tbilisi State University and GIPA Caucasian Journalist School. She has 20 years of experience in print and online media and in 2012 joined the agricultural journalism sector with a regional media portal, knews.ge, as editor-in-chief. She is the author of the first manual in Georgia published for agricultural journalists and in 2017 was a participant in the IFAJ Masterclass program held in South Africa. She is a founding member of the Association of Georgian Agricultural Journalists which was accepted as an IFAJ member in 2018.
The aim of her project is to study the principles of the free media and main trends in professional agricultural media and the impact of a traditional agrarian state which in the process of industrial development. Georgia, as a former Soviet country, the media is partially free, but the sphere of activity is not developing very fast and the problem that arises is the lack of information and knowledge for farmers.
Maia’s plan is to conduct interviews with journalists in media organizations, freelancers and representatives of organizations from a country similar to Georgia. A special directive document on the existing free media standards will be prepared for enhancing professional standards in this area which will help agricultural writers and journalists. The document will be distributed to agricultural journalists and posted on the website of the Association of Georgian Agricultural Journalists, www.agromedia.ge.