If there is any universal truth, it is that information is power. With the right information, people can make informed decisions to positively affect their lives. A thriving independent media is critical for educating the public and building democratic societies.

In Georgia, many media organizations are struggling to keep pace with the rapid rise of technology.With the expansion of internet to virtually every part of the country, USAID saw an opportunity to help media outlets and journalists reshape how they produce news. So, several years ago, the New Media Initiative took root.

USAID’s New Media Initiative (NMI) works with regional media outlets through trainings, mentoring and individual consulting around four focus areas: multimedia content production, management practices, website design and operation, and new media sales.

Demand for the resources offered through the program is high. During a first round of outreach, 27 media organizations applied to work with NMI. After assessments and interviews of candidate organizations, 12 media outlets were selected to participate in the program based on their capacity to implement new ideas and their level of commitment.

To maximize the benefit to each organization, NMI tailored training plans to the needs of each individual media outlet.

Before participating in the NMI training, Speqtri—an online local news source—posted their stories to a blog platform that limited visual content, interactive features and advertising. With the technical support and trainings provided through USAID, Speqtri created a new webpage that improved the way the newspaper reported and interacted with its readers. The new site incorporates slide modules to generate income through web-based commercials (banners, hyperlinks, portals, etc.), as well as tools for gathering feedback from readers. Multimedia training also enabled the news outlet to complement its written stories with videos, photos, audio clips and infographics.