Mini Culture Shock
Yet early in spring I visited Chiatura and Sachkhere to learn about means of media in Zemo Imereti. On the way I paid a visit to Zestafoni too. Chiatura impressed me most out of these three towns. Chiatura is an inland surrounded with mountains. The main mean of transport here is a cable car connecting different districts of the town. The majority of the population is employed at the mines functioning up to present and the so called "trest" (trust). For a few years now all the mines have been purchased by Georgian Manganese. In Chiatura manganese has been found since the end of the 19th century and it has become the major center of manganese production in Caucasus.
I traveled to Sachkhere-Chiatura from Tbilisi by an overloaded mini bus. Later I found out I was the only stranger in the bus. All the passengers including the driver knew one another. They immediately learned who I was and the reason of my travel to the region. As soon as we left Tbilisi a real feast broke out in the mini bus: some got vodka out of the bag, some - bread and sausage and plastic glasses were being filled and emptied. I experienced a mini culture shock.
Only guest houses function in Chiatura and even they are hardly found through acquaintances. That's comprehensible. As my hosts told me Chiatura is hardly ever visited by the person with no relatives in the town.
I left the house at the crack of dawn and started looking for the newsstand. I did found but none of them had the local press for sale - we are delivered few copies once in a while and even they are left unsold so I refuse to be delivered any, was the news agent's answer. I headed to Sachkhere. The Sachkhere auto station, with an adjacent market and blackened blocks of flats look very depressing. The city center and Gamgeoba building are painted and look nicer.
The only newspaper named Modi Nakhe (come and see) comes out in Sachkhere. The newspaper is being fully funded by Sachkhere municipality budget and its annual budget amounts to GEL 20, 000. The Modi Nakhe editorial office is located in a partly demolished room in Gamgeoba building. In total 3-4 people work in the editorial office without PCs. Reportedly their absence is due to the lack of funds. The newspaper is being published by the Mass Media association based in Sachkhere in 2002. Ketevan Bazadze is the head of the association and the editor of the Modi Nakhe. A 6-8-page newspaper comes out once a month and its circulation doesn't exceed 500 copies. Of 2008 up to 56,000 people live in Sachkhere.
The Chiatura population is much less - 14,000 people. Two newspapers come out in the town and the only Imervizia TV far more advanced and successful than the rest of means of media broadcasts here.
The Chiatura newspaper editorial office faces same problems as the Modi Nakhe - no normal working room, no computers, no desk... the only difference is the funding - the Chiatura is considerable less funded.
The New Chiatura newspaper was first published in Chiatura in 2010 by some enthusiastic youth. The public-political newspaper comes out once per month without any funding.
The monthly Georgian Manganese published by the Georgian Manganese is being disseminated in Zestafoni and Chiatura. The newspaper mainly covers the life and work of the company employees. Even though the newspaper is published by a big firm its staff have got neither their own working room nor the computer. They write articles on the papers at home. But the editorial office is not fully stuck in the Stone Age - the materials on the papers acquire digital form at some computer centers.
Oh Zestafoni ...
Didn't think anything could surprise me after having left the Sachkhere-Chiatura poorest editorial offices. Argo TV and Imeri radio broadcast in Zestafoni, as regards print editions the Zestafonis Moambe is the only one being published. All the three media outlets are owned by Infromkavshiri Ltd founded by a nine-member team occupying different positions in the TV company one after another - starting from a director to the security guard. The aforementioned Ltd founded 15 years ago runs several media outlets. The Zestafonis Moambe is being fully funded from Zestafoni budget.