Online news media are developing in Georgia but at a slower pace than elsewhere in Europe. The reason is partial Internet penetration, the lack of technological skills among the older population and weak business incentives for the media. The Internet penetration in Georgia is 50 percent, and concentrated in the capital city of Tbilisi and other large cities. While the number of citizens who use the Internet every day has grown by 223 percent from 13 percent in 2011 to 42 percent in 2017 according to time-series data from the Caucasus Barometer study, there remains a sizable segment of Georgians who have never used the Internet (35 percent) or do not know (3 percent) what it is. The vast majority of households access the Internet from a home computer or laptop (89 percent) and from personal mobile phones (59 percent). Internet is free of government control.
Film and music-sharing sites, such as Myvideo.ge and Imovies.cc, top the list of most-viewed media websites. However, the number of users who rely on the Internet for public affairs information is growing. Roughly one fifth of media users (21 percent) said in the NDI 2017 poll that the Internet was their primary source of public affairs content, up by 375 percent from 2011, while 23 percent of users said they used the Internet as the secondary source.
According to the Georgian Internet metrics company Top.ge, Ambebi.ge is the most-viewed news website, yielding up to 1.8 million unique users per month (January, 2018), followed by Interpressnews.ge, Newposts.ge, Palitravideo.ge, Rustavi2.ge, and On.ge. Ambebi.ge received most mentions as the favorite news source in the IRI 2017 poll, followed by News.ge, Interpressnews.ge, Presa.ge, Myvideo.ge, and Newposts.ge. Some of these outlets, like Interpressnews.ge, have started as news agencies but are increasingly consumed by individuals as well as businesses.
On.ge, operated by OMedia group, and Netgazeti.ge are reliable, fact-based online newspapers, which offer hard news and analysis, and employee multimedia tools. Liberali.ge is an online version of popular print magazine, Liberali, which transferred to the online domain. It offers serious news and analytical content, with strong interest in social issues and liberal agenda. Indigo.ge is a companion website of Indigo magazine with in-depth, long-form storytelling and rich multimedia content. Civil.ge is one of the oldest quality online news outlets operating in Georgia.
Online media outlets, which target Caucasian and global audiences and are available in several languages, have grown in numbers. Codastory.com is a startup by the team of internationally renowned reporters, which provides in-depth reporting from Europe and Eurasia. Eurasianet.org is one of the oldest websites with quality public affairs content from the region, available in English and Russian. Jamnews.com is a multilingual (Georgian, Azerbaijani, Armenian, Russian, English) website by GoGroup Media, which carries news and in-depth analysis by professional journalists and eyewitness reporters in the South Caucasus. Chai-khana.org and Oc-media.org are targeting Caucasus and international audiences with quality reporting from the region. Chai-khana.org is available in Georgian, Azerbaijani, Armenian, Russian and English, and Oc-media.org is available in English and Russian. iFact.ge is set by the team of investigative journalists.
The trend has been for the traditional media to expand and diversify content available on their websites. All lead newspapers and TV stations have accompanying websites. Some popular media outlets, like TV station Tabula, news magazine Liberali and newspaper Batumelebi have moved to the web and are only available online.
Online media are developing fast in the regions. RegInfo.ge, together with the affiliate Mtisambebi.ge, and Radioway.ge form a group, known for in-depth, high-quality investigative reporting from the regions. Qartli.ge is a reliable source of hard news and multimedia stories from Kvemo Kartli region. Samkhretis Karibche - Sknews.ge is a successful regional news outlet, which operates Radio Samkhretis Karibche and attracts substantial traffic in the Samtkhe-Javakheti region. Kakhetis Khma newspaper reports original content from the Kakheti region on Kknews.ge and Agromedia.ge websites, the latter devoted to agricultural journalism. Kakheti news are also available from online newspaper Speqtri,ge. KutaisiPost.ge produces an innovative web journalism from the Imereti region, as do Livepress.ge (Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region) and Batumelebi.ge (from the Ajara Autonomous Republic).. Regional TV and radio stations such as Trialeti TV, MegaTV, Borjomi TV , Metskhre Talga , Metskhre Arkhi, Gurjaani TV and Radio Dzveli Kalaki produce original content for their websites. A welcome development has been the establishment of JNews.ge, a portal in Russian language in Armenian-populated Akhalkalaki. Azerbaijani-language content is provided by Marneulifm.ge, a website of the Marneuli community radio, and the Az.kvira.ge website, while Armenian-language content is also available at Nor.ge.
Still, the quality of news available to the Internet users in Georgia varies. Among the most used websites there are outlets, which offer quality news (On.ge, Netgazeti.ge) as well as websites with less stringent standards (Ambebi.ge, Newposts.ge). While Indigo.ge, Liberali.ge, Chai-khana.org, JamNews.com, Sknews.ge have all produced reporting recognised by journalism awards Geworld.ge and Sakinform.ge have been reported to carry xenophobic content and Russian propaganda sources (MDF, 2016).