Two alumnae of the 2017 IFAJ/DuPont Pioneer Master Class helped establish the Association of Georgian Agricultural Journalists last month. The new guild was introduced to about 30 agricultural journalists from across Georgia on 27 October during a professional development workshop in Georgia’s capital city, Tbilisi.
Maia Mamulashvili of Voice of Kakheti, a regional agricultural newspaper and web portal, and Nestan Mermanishvili of MOLI in Kakheti—a project dedicated to improving incomes for small farmers in eastern Georgia, implemented by HEKS/EPER office in the South Caucasus and funded by the Swiss Government—attended Master Class and the 2017 IFAJ Congress in South Africa.
As two of the new guild’s founders, they invited IFAJ secretary general Steve Werblow—who was researching stories in Georgia in October—to greet the group on IFAJ’s behalf and lead professional development sessions during his visit.
The journalists attending the workshop represented print, radio, television and web media. During the introduction of the guild, one long-time reporter said, “I have been doing this job for years and yet I never realized I was an agricultural journalist.”
Mermanishvili says that is a common challenge in Georgian media—the profession of agricultural journalism is often overlooked even by people who practice it. One of the goals of the new Georgian guild is to raise awareness of the importance of agricultural journalism and the role journalists play in the flow of information to and from the countryside.
Werblow says he was fortunate to be able to participate in the guild’s launch.
“It was an honor to join the founders at Tbilisi’s Public Service Hall at the very moment the Association of Georgian Agricultural Journalists was born, and to feel the enthusiasm they shared as they brought their guild to life,” he says. “To then meet the next day with a room full of dedicated, truly accomplished professionals and help the organization take its first steps—bringing colleagues together and engaging in professional development—was a tremendous experience.
“I hope IFAJ will have the opportunity to welcome the Georgian guild as a member soon,” he adds.