The newspaper has been publishing in Adjara region with unchanged status and aims for almost a century. Newspaper Adjara has turned 93 in 2013. Founder of the newspaper is Newspaper Adjara and Adjaria LLC, 100% of the shares of which are owned by Adjara Autonomous Republic.
Since 1921, newspaper has been published under different names although at every stage of its existence the censorship from government has always been there. The newspaper started the new stage now.
“Everything has changed completely after the elections; in the first place censorship has been absolutely eliminated; we are completely free,” Giorgi Gorgiladze, Chief Editor says. He is speaking about the materials that have been published in the newspaper lately and which, according to him, criticize the current government.
“Our rating has increased thanks to that; we have feedback from readers,” Gorgiladze says.
Despite elimination of censorship from government journalists also speak about self-censorship.
“Self-censorship is so deep inside of each of us that sometimes we cannot write critical materials even if we want,” journalist Revaz Mskhiladze says, who has been working for the newspaper since 1980.
According to journalists the hardest times by means of censorship have been since 2006 when their materials were blocked due to different reasons. Journalist Manana Mitaishvili recalls that during that period censorship went to such absurd level that she was not even allowed to write specific name.
“I had Bidzina Ivanishvili in my material, but not as a politician, but as a philanthropist and editor told me to write anything else but not that,” Mitaishvili recalls.
Journalists protested against censorship only within themselves. Speaking about it out loud would mean losing the job, while nobody wanted it. 14 from 20 journalists of the newspaper have been working there since the time the newspaper was called Soviet Adjara. Their life has been connected to newspaper Adjara for decades and as they say themselves for them working there is more than a job.
“Even during hardest times we managed to survive together,’ journalist Manana Mitaishvili says; her father has worked for newspaper Adjara also.
The purpose of newspaper Adjara has been the same during all the time of its existence. Editor of the newspaper believes that Adjara reflects the most important events underway in the region.
“There is such atmosphere here that in all the cases the newspaper must be classical. That is why all kinds of materials be it analytical, news or other are evidenced documentarily. We never print rumors or unchecked information,” Gorgiladze says.
The newspaper is published throughout Adjara region three times a week. The circulation of the newspaper is from 800 to 1500. There mainly are political materials. Once a week the newspaper includes its Russian-language insert Adjaria, which reflects weekly important news. Until 2005 Adjara was being published as an independent newspaper; soon it was closed down, but revived in 2008 as an insert to Adjara newspaper.
Newspaper Adjara is funded by the government of Adjara Autonomous Republic. This year’s budget is GEL 130,000. Despite the fact that the Chief Editor is for the change of status of the newspaper into public newspaper, he believes that it must still be funded from the budget as it will not be able to be self-sustainable.
“If we work for grants the period between refusing State funding and winning of grants may be a catastrophe for the newspaper, as we will not be able to publish it,” Gorgiladze says.
For targeted distribution of finances newspaper Adjara administration changed journalists to the system of fee salaries since February 2013.
Newspaper Editor believes that by the given system of salaries journalists are able to earn more. By the given step he plans to “wake those journalists up” that receive fixed salary just because of their experience and do not have desire to write materials.
“Several journalists did not justify what they received. At the same time another journalists who was really talented worked more and wanted to develop received less. This was done for supporting them financially,” Gorgiladze says.
Part of journalists speaks about low salaries, although the Editor believes that if journalists want the newspaper to remain in the same format and same staff as it is today “they must tighten the belts.”
Reorganization is not planned in the newspaper. Chief Editor believes that request for reorganization from government would mean signs of censorship for him. He would prefer to resign rather than to cut the staff down.
“If I was sure that any one of them would be able to earn for living by commercial activity than I would not have such approach,” Gorgiladze says.
The newspaper was reorganized after the Rose Revolution when dismissal of old employees started. Journalists describe those times as times of humiliation and mocking.
Part of fired employees appealed to Batumi Court of Appeals at that time. The new Editor re-hired them. They still work for the newspaper.
Newspaper has been in a new building for five years already. It has appealed to Prosecutor’s Office for returning the old building. They request investigation into the illegal selling of newspaper Adjara building located in Memed Abashidze Street. The newspaper occupied that building for tens of years. Editor Giorgi Gorgiladze believes that the building was ceased from the newspaper five years go illegally. With the new government the staff has hopes to return the building. Gorgiladze speaks about the plans that are related to returning the building.
“According to our plans in that building it will be possible to create one of the largest media-holdings in Georgia. Funding will probably be partly from the government and partly from investments. All the newspapers published in Adjara will be located there. It will be a press-house,” Gorgiladze says.