Patrick Filder is a lawyer fromAtlanta. I asked him just in case, as he is a very busy man, if he had time to read newspapers. “I have to,” he said – “I need to be aware of all important stories. I have no time to watch TV, so I prefer to learn news from newspaper; read newspapers during lunch, dinner, or before going to sleep.” As it appeared he subscribes to three lawyers’ magazines and following newspapers: New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal. “It is more convenient,” Patrick clarified – “press is delivered to me home and it is available for me to read when I have time.”
Buying the favorite newspaper is kind a ritual for Angela Keenan, fromEngland. She is a teacher. As she told me, she has no time for daily newspapers. She usually buys weekly large editions and read it gradually. “InEnglandmany subscribe to newspapers, although, majority prefers to read the news online,” Angela told me; - “people mainly subscribe to press specific to their professions and interests. Subscribing to newspapers is an old tradition, although newspapers and magazines already have their websites and those who have access to Internet are able to read articles online.”
There was the tradition of subscribing to newspapers inGeorgiaalso, but it was a forced tradition. Soviet propagandist machine needed “full information provision” to population and people subscribed to what they were told to: Pravda, Georgian and Russian Kommunist, Trud (Labor), Moskovsky Komsomolets and so on. Still there were magazines and newspapers at those times which allowed relaxing. Those mainly were literature, medical, technical publications and people subscribed to them voluntarily. Soviet citizens could easily afford subscribing to seven or eight publications – the price did not exceed 2-3 kopeikas.
Unlike the civilized world, in today’sGeorgiathe subscription to press is in fact an abolished necessity. Associations with Soviet part do play the decisive role in this case; the problem is elsewhere – post does not have a function of press circulation any more, low revenues of existing press distributors, which does not allow them to develop their structures and low purchasing ability of population. Although, the last factor is not the main hampering barrier, as the recent survey conducted by the Free Press Supporting Organization showed.
I myself participated in the given survey this March, as an employee of the Organization. Due to the fact that people tired from different opinion-polls do not open doors to everyone any more, we, the Organization employees took the responsibility and went door-to-door in different districts ofTbilisi, in our apartment houses. There were three questions: Do your family members read newspaper? Do you buy press, or read it elsewhere? Would you subscribe to press if it was delivered to your home?
s\430 residents of Vake, Saburtalo, Nadzaladevi, Gldani, Didube, Sanzona, Mukhiani, Varketili and Zahesi districts ofTbilisiparticipated in the opinion-poll. 190 respondents said they would subscribe to newspapers; 166 refused to subscribe; 74 persons, who buy favorite outlets for the moment, said they have not thought about subscription. Tata Gvelesiani said that post boxes have vanished from her entrance hall long time ago so she could not even imagine magazines and newspapers could be delivered to her apartment any more.
Small part of those who refuse to subscribe to newspapers, buys press now. Eka Bakanidze explained this as follows: “I prefer to buy a newspaper when there is an interesting article in it. Georgian newspapers are printed on a low quality paper, so this holds me back also.” Natela Kurashvili, mother of three, refuses to subscribe to press due to a different reason – she cannot afford it. “If our family income increases, I will be glad to think about it. At this stage, it is unimaginable; I read interesting magazines at my neighbor’s.”
The possibility for printed press to be more competitive to television, Radio and Internet becomes more and more questionable with the development of new technologies. Despite that magazines and newspapers have certain advantages that insure their sustainability. One can read press whenever and wherever you want; newspapers are able to provide the news in the morning that televisions will only report later during the day; one is able to read more details about a story; and you can go back to an interesting article whenever you need it.
Rezonansi daily Editor and media experts Lasha Tugushi believes revival of the institute of press subscription would come as an important step towards better informing of population and for the development of printed media. “This is an international practice; majority of readers receives magazines and newspapers right by this method,” Tugushi says – “unfortunately the given system has collapsed in Georgian long time ago and it would be very important to return press to readers and readers to press this way. Distribution of press in streets is important, but it is also very important to have subscription system, as the means of timely circulation of press to readers.”
Free Press Supporting Organization survey has shown that almost half of the respondents (44.2%) is ready to subscribe to press. Now it is all on the press publishers and distributors.