The Lelo has the longest history from among the Georgian sports newspapers. Its first edition came out on 1934. Initially the newspaper was published under the title Georgian Athlete, in 1949 the newspaper was renamed as Lelo, following Mikheil Kakabadze’s appointment to the position of the editor.
In 1989 the newspaper founded the National Olympic Committee. On the basis of Lelo the Federation of Georgian Sports Journalists was created. In 1992 the Sports Journalists Association became its legal successor which conducts annual referendum to recognize best sportsmen.
Three years ago the newspaper joined media holding Palitra Media. 60 percent of share was procured by Kviris Palitra Ltd of the Palitra Media holding, Tengiz and Bakar Gachechildzes are the owners of the remaining 40 percent, each holding 20 percent.
Through the merger, said the Lelo editor Tengiz Gachechiladze, technical problems have been addressed. “Now we need to care only about editorial activities, the media holding is taking care of the printing house and distribution,” said Tengiz Gachechiladze reporting to Media.ge. He has been working for the print edition since 1958.
Up to 40 employees, with 25 journalists out of them, work to publish the newspaper on a daily basis. The materials are being distributed on 16 pages, four of which are colored and the rest is B&W.
The Lelo provides daily coverage of any kind of sport but football is the main focus. The events ongoing within the country are among exclusive pieces of news, world news are being translated. The newspaper, Tengiz Gachechiladze pointed out, is oriented on analytical type of publications.
“The person having watched the football match at the stadium is buying a newspaper on the following day to learn whatever he had missed to catch during the game. He has no concern into brief review and the detailed description of the match, the analysis of different kind is being required, that’s what the sports journalist’s professionalism is,” stressed Tengiz Gachechiladze. Personal acquaintance plays an important role in obtaining information, but reliance among journalists and sources of information is essential. Respondents seldom show discontent to the criticism articles but under the circumstances the newspaper offers them a possibility to express their opinion in the newspaper. Verified information, the Editor said, is number one to them, ”we never write about rumored stories.”
Unlike the rest of sports newspaper coming out in Georgia the Lelo is not publishing schedules of championships of different countries, neither the
scores of games. “We do not want to promote totalizator games and besides this is not our format,” the editor clarified. We never say no to anyone willing to co-operate with us. “The youth comes to us and in case the material is good we publish it.”
Even though sport is the field of interest of the people of different age and profession the audience for the editions of the kind is vast, the number of sports newspapers in Georgia is scarce. Several newspapers have been closed down. According to Gachechiladze in addition to the lack of professionalism the financial problems are essential. The Lelo’s main source of income is advertising and sale. The editor though refrained from specifying the amount of the circulation, saying the number is rather high.
The online versions of the Lelo publications are being posted on sportall.ge. In addition to articles the website offers its users video and photo material. The results of ongoing games are available online.