Independent media provides Georgia’s communities with fact-based information about important issues

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Monday, July 26, 2021
Maia Pipia, a reporter and news anchor at Radio Atinati

USAID supports local independent media to provide Georgia’s communities with fact-based information about important issues. For Maia Pipia, a reporter and news anchor at Radio Atinati in Zugdidi, one of 14 local media outlets that receive USAID assistance, her mission includes reaching out to people in Georgia’s occupied region of Abkhazia.

Radio Atinati is currently the only radio broadcaster in Tbilisi-administered territory whose signal reaches people living in Abkhazia. Over the years, it has expanded its audience and cooperated with a larger group of journalists, including correspondents based in Abkhazia.

“For more than six years, we have produced programs in cooperation with Abkhaz colleagues. We also publish multimedia articles in Georgian with photo reports, which are provided to us by Abkhaz partners,” says Maia. “On our program ‘Common Grounds’ we discuss topics important to people living on both sides of the Administrative Boundary Line [ABL]. We talk about what connects us and not about what disconnects us.”

Maia was born and raised in Sokhumi, leaving during the war in 1993. She settled in Zugdidi and has spent the past 14 years with Radio Atinati, working with both ethnic Georgian and ethnic Abkhaz journalists. USAID support, which covers things like state-of-the-art equipment, training, and technical assistance, has helped the team at Radio Atinati strengthen its ability to serve communities on both sides of the ABL.

This year, the “Common Grounds” program was selected as a finalist for the European Union Prize for Peace Journalism. Maia credits USAID support with helping her team reach this level of achievement:

“USAID’s M-TAG [Media for Transparent and Accountable Governance] program helped us further develop and deepen cooperation with journalists in Abkhazia. The project started exactly at a time when there was a danger that the relationship we have built throughout the years would be lost because of the pressure [being put] on journalists in Abkhazia. I am so proud that a Georgian-Abkhaz program prepared with USAID support became a finalist for the EU Prize for Peace Journalism this year.”

Over the past year, Radio Atinati has faced an additional challenge, COVID-19. Communities in Abkhazia have been put under particular pressure due both to the severity of the pandemic and the intensity of disinformation circulating about the virus and the vaccination process. Maia and her team are also working closely with journalists in Abkhazia to address this challenge:

“Nowadays, the pandemic has become the main challenge. Together with our Abkhaz colleagues we contribute to the ongoing fight against COVID-19 and disinformation regarding vaccination.”

Last updated: November 19, 2021

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