I’m writing this first editor’s blog on a very special day for me - Agenda.ge’s first birthday. Though the timeline on our main page starts with the Presidential elections on October 27, 2013, at that time Agenda.ge was operating online as a test version. We presented it to the public on December 11, 2013 to be sure that every button worked properly.
A lot of things have changed in my country since December 11, 2013 starting with the most complicated and complex municipal elections in Georgia’s history on June 15 and ending with the signing of the Association Agreement/DCFTA with the European Union on June 27. Georgia’s European dream is becoming more real and tangible day by day.
But this is not a political summarising of the year; politicians do it much better than me. I just want to thank every single reader, contributor and sharer of Agenda.ge for helping to make our news website a success. Thanks all, new and returning, angry and thankful, for spending time on our website, for sharing you emotions while reading our content and any feedback we have received from each of you.
Also I want to introduce to you the Editor’s Choice of the Year 2014, our best content and the team who creates it for you.
I will start with our bloggers. Agenda.ge’s approach to blogs is slightly different than most. We don’t have special bloggers, we ask people involved in interesting events to write blogs for Agenda.ge even if they have no experience writing before. I want to thank all of them for their time and sharing their personal point of view.
I will never forget the negotiations with the Georgia’s ex-State Minister on European Integration Alex Petriashvili on his blog "24/7 friendship”. He wrote it on his mobile phone in the minutes after the Georgian delegation met President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joseph Biden in the White House.
Georgia’s Vice President and Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze found time to write the "Dariali: Fight against disaster” blog during the time Georgia experienced the most large scale natural catastrophe in the country’s modern history.
The New Year blog from Afghanistan written by senior Georgian military official Koba Oshkhereli, who was partaking in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission, was unforgettable even for our journalists. While reading "The Talibs do not care that it was New Year…” you fully understand what is going on there and start to treasure the peace in your country.
Head of the Central Election Commission Tamar Zhvania wrote a blog for us titled "Three things you did not know about Georgia’s municipal elections” and described some details unknown even for Georgian voters.
I am extremely thankful to alpine skier, Georgian Olympic team member Nino Tsiklauri for her blog "My Olympic Race” written from the Sochi Olympics for Agenda.ge. She did it while under pressure of the hot discussion in Georgian society whether Georgia should participate in the Russian Olympic Games or not.
Before Christmas a ‘must read’ is a blog by our current political editor Lali Tsertsvadze. Her piece "Christmas adventure of a tight-knit Georgian neighbourhood” will help you understand why her neighbour moved away 10 years ago and returned in a Santa costume to wish old neighbours a Happy New Year.
Lali Tsertsvadze, Political Editor
Lali’s articles can be found in every category of Agenda.ge’s menu. With a background in Georgian newspapers and TV script writing, she spent almost a year as a volunteer in Lithuania involved in various media and community projects. She is the most curious person I have ever met and this is the main feature of a journalist’s personally for me.
She made Agenda.ge’s first multimedia article "Doomed flight” about the tragedy at Babushera Airport in September 1993. She wrote for you stories of the Georgian Shindler’s List, and "wondering books”. We call her Agenda.ge’s main expert on ethnic minorities; she made you feel the spirit of Catholic Christmas, Novruz and Hanukkah in Georgia. Her article "Prestigious US University opens campuses in Georgia” became the most read in Agenda’s first year history.
‘Must read’ articles from Lali:
- New Year blog "Christmas adventure of tight-knit Georgian neighbourhood”
- Articles "Georgian Schindler's list”
- "Georgian legend: How the "Flying Torpedo” changed ski jumping forever”
- Multimedia report "Doomed flight”
Tamar Khurtsia, Economic Editor
I ask her dozens of questions like what the new Fitch rating for Georgia means with a stupid face every day. She is very patient to explain economic details but I still don’t understand. That is why she decides what to write about Georgia’s economy.
With a background in TV, covering international news and reporting for Georgian TV, she knows everything about business trends, numbers, money and so on but not only. Last New Year she wrote the perfect article "Georgian New Year celebration traditions from ancient to nowadays.”
If you are interested in Georgian wine and the wine industry she is your author. Her piece "Putting Georgian wine tourism on the map” is a ‘must read'. In the past year she has written "How to create jobs ‘simply, fast and cheap”, "The cost of food safety in Georgia” and "What do Georgian Government members own?”
She is the one and only in our editorial team who fully understands what is written in the DCTFA and clearly explains it to our readers by visualisation in our specially-created infographics. These innovative ways to tell a story have become a great success. The EU office in Georgia has asked her to make Georgian versions of our infographics and put it in their annual reports.
‘Must read’ articles from Tamar:
- "Georgian New Year celebration traditions from ancient to nowadays.”
- "Georgia-EU free trade deal promotes cost-effective business” from Prague, Czech Republic
- "The lost girls – Georgians facing an ethical and moral dilemma”
Mariam Chalauri, Web Designer
When it comes to creating infographics and graphics at all, Mariam Chalauri is the person I want you to know. She is the author of all banners, interactive maps and infographics we have on the website. Coming from a background in web design and advertising, she tortures us with her perfectionism.
Instead of doing one banner for the article, she does five or six versions of each and usually the process ends in an office vote because all her creations are perfect and we let the majority decide.
‘Must see’ Infographics from Mariam (together with Tamar Khurtsia):
- #DCFTA: The EU-Georgia Free Trade DCFTA
- Georgia's Wine Industry
- 2014 Georgian Budget by Priorities
- Georgian Tourism 2013
Genevieve Helliwell, Sub-Editor
In my opinion our sub-editor is a present sent by Santa from New Zealand to us last year. Shortly after the public presentation of Agenda.ge, I found an email at the office mail from the originally British New Zealand journalist with working experience in two national newspapers of her home country.
She wrote that she moved to Georgia and would like to work with us. I remember my first thoughts were: Am I dreaming or is this a joke? But she was real, I called her phone and we met the next day.
Since January 1, 2013 she is in every text you read. Genevieve helps us not only with editing but also to see the angle from a foreigners perspective. What is very Georgian and should be explained, what could be the main object of interest of the reader who had never been in Georgia are things she regularly faces.
We are proud that after one year in Georgia she can count in Georgian up to 100 ( which is quite complicated) , understands what we are speaking about in Georgian in general and can cook (some) Georgian dishes better than some of us.
She ran the Tbilisi half marathon in October and wrote a blog about this challenge. She gathered for you "All you need to know about Georgia’s new visa rules” piece. Only Genevieve knows the real author behind the name David Gorji, who wrote the book "Georgian Gorgeous or Gorgeous Georgians?” She met author in person and the article about this book is also one of the most read during Agenda’s first year.
She also monitors what world web media writes about Georgia day by day for "Press scanner”.
'Must read' from Genevieve:
- Blog "Just do it! I ran the Tbilisi Marathon”
- Articles "All you need to know about Georgia’s new visa rules”
- "Georgian Gorgeous or Gorgeous Georgians? Georgia in untold way”
Nino Alavidze, Photographer
When it comes to images, wonderful artist Nino Alavidze is the person who shoots the majority of creative photos for Agenda.ge. She came to us from the world of advertising and documentary photography. "In Pictures” is her way of storytelling and is full of her best shots.
I do not even know which one to recommend to you. The images we use for article banners are also her work. We finally updated Agenda.ge’s profile on Flickr, so if you want to see photos in their original size and enjoy Nino’s personal exhibition, go there. There are also a lot of pictures on our Flickr account we have not published on our website.
One of the main forms of entertainment at the office is glazing new photos sent by Nino to our journalists for their respective stories. But all our staff are engrossed in the shared folder of Nino’s photos and it is very hard to bring them back to work.
‘Must see’ from Nino "In Pictures”:
Tamar Svanidze, Journalist
Tamar Svanidze covered the United Nations Day in Georgia for you and she found 2-year-old Kato’s touching opening message for the article "The future Georgia wants”.
"My grandmother and I wrote this letter. Because I can’t write she did it on my behalf. I would like to live in peace and a beautiful Georgia. We both ask you to help our small country. We don’t want wars anymore.”
With a professional background in Georgian internet journalism, she tells you all you need to know about cinema, theatre and other culture issues. She always knows what is on trend in Georgian social media. This year she presented you the awesome Window project in the article "Art explodes on Tbilisi vacant shop windows”. She involved readers in "Tbilisi Zoo adventure” and also observed thousands of "Pilgrims seek miracles at opening of saint's tomb” in Georgia’s ancient city of Mtskheta.
'Must reads' from Tamar:
- Articles "Art explodes on Tbilisi vacant shop windows”
- "Georgian fiction now available to the world”
- "Non-political film about politics: "Full Speed Westward”
Anastasia Zurabishvili, Journalist
Anastasia is the youngest in our team. She combines University exams and lectures with part-time work writing current news for Agenda.ge. I hope this will affect her future specialisation.
She knows everything about electronic music, the best DJ performances in Georgia and football. She manages to write news with music blaring in her earphones. That is why I say her name the whole day loudly. Her opinion is always fresh and we test some ideas for the young audience on her.
David Makaridze, Web developer
He understands our language because David has worked for new media for many years – also because his wife is a journalist.
His tasks sometimes seem impossible to fulfil but he makes it work.
‘Must see’ from David:
Election map Agenda.ge made for the Municipal election in deep cooperation with the Central Election Commission. In real time it was possible to see all election data in one click. We plan to use it at the next elections also.
And finally I recommend the special report "The most read behind prison walls” by Katie Tutberidze, Agenda.ge’s former journalist who now worked for Georgian Maestro TV.
Nobel-laureate Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk was very impressed during his visit to Georgia and we learnt from this article that his novel is the most read among female inmates in Georgia.
If you like our content and team, the best congratulations you can offer Agenda.ge on its first birthday will be to introduce Agenda.ge to your friends :)
Your opinion is really important to us!