Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New era in Georgian media

Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) takes innovative actions to return its reputation and quality of delivery to become leader in Georgian media.

During many years it has been the only media company that managed to attract the viewers with relatively high quality journalism and had lots of trust from the public.

However, during more than the last 10 years it has become very unpopular and even the subject of mistrust and aggression. It used to be accused of being the "mouth" of the Government and the shame of Georgian journalism, because it used to be less critical to Georgian government.

The downturn of Georgian Public Broadcaster, earlier known as the "Channel 1", might as well been caused by emerging of privately owned media companies, like Rustavi 2 and Imedi TV, who had more funds and more opportunity to produce high quality material.

Fortunately, in 2008 and 2009 the Georgian Public Broadcaster is seen to be making big efforts to innovate the company and its ways of delivering services to the public. 

Taking a look at the website of its television (1tv.ge) is enough to understand that GPB is trying to take an example of the BBC and produce the material that matches the standards of Western media. New media is no longer an "unknown fruit" for Georgian media companies and they try to not leg back. 

It is a happiness to see that the Georgian media is moving forward even in the hard times when it is still suffering from the effects of the war, financial crisis and ongoing political tensions. 

During my internship (April-May 2009) with the BBC on factual programme Hardtalk, the editor told me that the Director General of the Georgian Public Broadcaster has been there recently observing the system of the BBC and the programmes of it. She said Mr Kubaneishvili is aiming to renovate the GPB according to the example of the BBC. 

At that moment I didn't really believe in his commitment, but now, after seeing the website of the GPB, I am taking my "mistrust" back and say "well done".

I hope that the process will continue and reach the moment when journalists will have an opportunity to work without being terrorised and without being physically or verbally assaulted for telling the truth and being objective. There should be no room for either self-censorship or pressure from the Government or opposition parties. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

People have doctors, companies have web designing experts

“A client comes to us with questions about their website i.e. we've recently redesigned our website, but now our sales have dropped”, says Damian Rees from Experience Solutions.

More and more companies address web designers and focus on online interaction with their clients.

Nowadays having a website became absolute necessity. When a company launches one of the first things they do is create a website.

James Mallorie, project manager in Redweb thinks there is a bigger need for websites, because the companies can actually see the return on their investment (ROI).

He says: “For a company it’s very important, because they can see that they are investing certain amount of money and every month their revenue is coming back to them through their shopping cart or through advertising sales.

It’s recordable and they can see and it’s a great benefit. The more that benefit gets realised by companies the more companies want to do it.”

Redweb is an expert team who specialise in the designing and building of websites based in Bournemouth. They noticed that web industry has suffered least of all in the ongoing financial crisis.

Dan Hills, accounting manager in Redweb says: “Any credible agency is still going to make a lot of money and keep growing it. All the offline agencies, which are not accountable, are the ones that are going to suffer. They are already suffering, because the money is getting from offline onto online.”

“Doctors” in action

Agencies like Experience Solutions help the companies who have seen downturn in their business and want to attract the clients back by improving their websites.

The experts of the agency work with the company to profile who their customers are, review their website statistics, then recruit people who meet the target audience description to come in and take part in research.

They will be observed using the website to establish where the problems are in the process.
The agency will then meet with the client to show them video clips of people using the site and present their priority recommendations.

The client will then implement the changes and the agency will do follow up research to make sure they have worked.

Paul Seys, Head of User Experience in Redweb, says: “We have some clients that come with the existing website and it might be a case that they just want to improve it.

If the client is coming to us with a brand new idea that does not currently exist then it is very much about working with a client to identify the need for it.”

How far did the web industry come?

Web industry is developing step by step and becomes more and more flexible not only for users but also for the people working in this industry.

Jake Skedgell, a freelancer in web programming, has always been interested in computers and was on the Internet since it existed. He thinks flexibility is one of the most attractive things in this industry.

He says: “I could work in a coffee shop, sitting in bed or on a beach halfway around the world. The same goes for clients - they can be anywhere.”

However, there are changes in major issues of the web industry as well.

Paul Seys from Redweb says: “Ten years ago we had to just focus on what the website looked like from design point of view. It was more about how it looked and how somebody interacted with it. Now we’re more focused on meeting the needs of the brand. We’ve got to consider accessibility, search engine optimisation.”

The blue-sky Future

Not that long ago it was hard to understand what the Internet could do. It was impossible to imagine that some companies would exist only online.

But how far is this tendency capable of going?

Adam Wintle, creative director of the Mallmus Media says:”The future seems really bright, unless of course Google crashes and disappears overnight.

I think it’s awesome that the kids at university right now are studying for things that are yet to be invented in the digital world. These guys will have the next big ideas and lead the next big companies.”

It’s the ambition, skill and imagination of site builders that has got us to where we are today and it's those qualities that will transform the Web in the years to come.

But what does a future hold for us? Should we expect fundamental changes in the digital industry?
Paul Seys from Redweb thinks the industry is constantly changing and it will never stay the same for any length of time.

He says: “I think the big thing that’s going on at the moment is social media, sites having communities built around them is fundamental. The brands that don’t embrace the communities will really suffer, because Internet is not like TV for example, where you just sit and flick the channels. The Internet is about interaction, about having an influence. Social media will grow and grow and the brands will have to adopt that. “

Getting ready for the next successes

It is now quite blurred how the web industry will evolve. What else is to be done to make a next step forward?

James Mallorie from Redweb thinks there has always been a lack of software that matches what the hardware can do.

He says: “The hardware is always increasing, always improving and software has always been behind. People are just trying to write software that can actually do things that hardware is expected to do.”

Who knows? It might be a person graduating from the university at the moment, who is going to lead us to the new era of the web world.

But what does one possibly need to achieve success in the web industry?

Paul Seys from Redweb thinks that one needs to pick an area and not to try and be a Jack-of-all-trades and have an understanding of every aspect to be in design, development, user experience, mobile.

He says: “I think they need to be picking a niche according to the area that they are particularly interested in.”

Besides, because of the speed that the Internet moves, one needs to be educated and to be up-to-date.

He says: “We have to be playing with things like Facebook and Twitter very early on to understand how they work and be a step ahead of the client. So often the clients are playing with these things anyway, so we need to have that understanding.”

To stay up-to-date and to keep in touch with the people working in the digital industry, Redweb organises series of informal events called “Meetdraw”.

The recent event took place on 12th March in iBar, Bournemouth where students, freelancers, professionals, creatives, developers, account managers, usability gurus or anyone with a passion for digital were welcome.

Paul Seys says Meetdraw was born out of the desire to bring all the people passionate about digital on the South Coast together.

“A bunch of us got talking about the lack of a solid community in the area and decided that the best course of action was to simply set a date and then organise an event that would hopefully start the ball rolling.”


Monday, March 16, 2009

Georgian group excluded from Eurovision

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has officially informed Georgia that its entry for the Eurovision 2009 song contest does not comply with the rules of the competition, the EBU said on its website today. 

The Georgian group Stephane & 3G has been chosen to represent Georgia in Moscow with a song entitled We Don't Wanna Put In, a clear reference to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. 

Is that the best place to protest against the political enemy? Song competition that is supposed to be a place where peace reigns and enemies become friends.

There have been many competitions where Georgians were performing side by side with Russians and had been able to forget everything bad that politicians had done using the name of the public. 

The Reference Group of the Eurovision Song Contest announced on Tuesday that the title and lyrics of the song 'do not comply with Section 4 Rule 9 of the Rules of the 54th Eurovision Song Contest, and cannot take part in the competition as such.' 

'No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature shall be permitted during the Eurovision Song Contest,' the EBU said on its website. 

Georgia will now have either to rewrite lyrics of the song or to choose another entry. The deadline is March 16, when all participating countries officially hand in information on the selected entries. 

Georgia said it would announce its decision on Wednesday. 

They should think twice next time in which light such tricks show the country and put aside the politics and concentrate on a victory that would guarantee a double win over the Russians who would be beaten in their own country. 

Belarus has to make a choice between Russia and EU

EU Foreign Policy Chief, Javier Solana recommends Belarus to refrain from recognizing independence of Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Javier Solana says in case of recognition, the relations of the EU and Belarus would be revised and changed not to very desirable direction.

"It is important as you know we don't recognise and we would like everybody that has a relationship with us to be on the same wavelength." Mr. Solana said.

But is it not too naive to think that Belarus, the closest ally of Russia, will take any notice of recommendation of the EU? 

Belarus depends so much on Russia and has so many business relationships that it will mean "committing suicide" for it to break relationships with Russia.

Is it not time for EU and Georgia to face the truth and say that it will be extremely hard to reach at least slight success in gaining the breakaway regions back, unless Georgia becomes so attractive to those people living there that they will rebel themselves and ask for rejoining.

Where is the law and its power when the separatist governors of the Gali district, Abkhazia, Georgia, are forcing ethnic Georgians to take new Abkhazian passports and threaten to evict them from the occupied region if they resist? 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Shoplifter gets leniency from the court

A drug addict was able to avoid fines for shoplifting today.

Oliver James Bland, 28, of St Clements Gardens, Bournemouth pleaded guilty to theft in the ASDA shopping centre, Bournemouth Magistrates Court heard today.

Andrew Newman, prosecuting, said Bland appeared in the ASDA store on March 9 this year with a blue bag and stole alcohol worth £17.75. He was arrested on the spot and interviewed by police.

Mark Proctor, defending, said Bland was a typical drug addict who tried to get off heroin three times.

''I ask you to give him one last chance. He does fully understand that he did a wrong thing and regrets it,'' Mr Proctor told the court.

Mr Proctor asked the judge to avoid fining Bland, who already owes money to the court.

District Judge Roger House said he hoped Bland would work hard to get off drugs and encouraged him, saying ''It's hard, but it's a joy to see success at the end.''

He placed a supervision order on Bland and granted him conditional bail

Elderly warned about scam

Police are warning elderly residents to be vigilant after Southbourne pensioners gave money to a young man claiming he was locked out of his house.

Dorset Police Constable Rob Bentall said: "This man appears to offer a similar story each time he attempts to trick a victim. He says that he needs around £30 for a locksmith, because his landlord has supposedly locked him out of his flat."

The incidents which have been happening since February.

The man is described as being in his early twenties with short brown hair, slim build and around six feet tall.

There are no reports about any violence or threat against residents.

PC Bentall explained: "This man is preying on elderly members of the community and I am also urging members of the public to keep a look out for their vulnerable neighbours and report any suspicious activity."

At the time of the offences he was clean and tidily dressed. He has a healthy complexion and is said to be well spoken.

"I would like to remind home owners, particularly our more vulnerable residents, to be vigilant at all times. Anyone who is approached in similar circumstances should contact Dorset Police as soon as possible", PC Bentall said.

The police asks anyone who has any information about these incidents or any other similar scams to contact Dorset Police in confidence on 01202 222 222 or the Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.

Poole business organisations get together

Business organisations are going to get together today in Poole to get a better insight into the current financial situation and get tips how to move forward.

Holding this series of meetings was decided by D+R The Solution LTD that is a full service marketing agency based in Poole.

These meetings, Business Development Club, will be held every month on the second Tuesday of the month at Holton Heath Industrial Estate.

This month’s meeting will feature a talk from Sue Baker from Clarity Financials and will cover managing the financial elements of business in these testing times.

Bryan Benjafield, Operations Manager of D+R The Solution LTD, said: “The idea of the meeting came from the current financial climate. It was the brainchild of David Dean who is the Managing Director here and we hope that it will help business in Dorset come together a bit and lend a bit of support to each other.”

They have been using their own business development programmes for over 10 years to help the businesses grow, but now they have to focus on not letting the businesses fall into an economical slump.

Mr Benjafield said: “We feel it is important to help businesses in these challenging times with a view of all Dorset businesses mucking in to help get through and help each other.”

They have also recently been involved with launching a scheme called Buy Dorset (www.buydorset.co.uk), which is an online database for Dorset Businesses.

The companies can post their details for free as long as they sign a pledge to try to source as much of their materials and products and work wherever possible with other Dorset businesses.