When the daily “Samkhretis Karibche” (Southern Gate in Georgian) closed down its Armenian language section for lack of funds, work prospects for Rima Gharibyan, Aghunik Ayvazyan, Kristine Marabyan, and Shushanik Shirinyan looked grim in Akhalkalaki, a town of less than 10,000 in southern Georgia.
The highly conservative region of Samtskhe-Javakheti does not offer an array of possibilities for journalists, and even fewer for female reporters, and it is in dire need of an Armenian-language outlet to cater with the local population - the 2014 census showed that over 90 percent of the population is ethnic Armenian. The four women joined forces with two other journalists, Ani Minasyan and Julieta Tonakanyan, and in late 2014 founded Jnews.ge, a web-based media outlet which aimed at filling the information gap.
It was not an easy ride - and not only for lack of cash to get started. The region’s deep-rooted traditions whereby women are largely stuck in their role of stay-at-home mothers and wives mean that the six journalists had to fight gender stereotypes every step of the way. Shortage of cash did not make it any easier.
Yet, it worked. Today Jnews provides news from the region, nation-wide and Armenia in both Armenian and Russian languages - the latter serving the large Armenian diaspora in Russia who originates from the area. Reports in Georgian language are in the pipeline.