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12.11.2012 13:27

Don’t Believe Anything We Talk about

Maia Tsiklauri
Media Discusions

For several years now I haven’t been watching Imedi, Rustavi 2 and First Channel, neither PIK, let alone Real TV,” a neighbor of mine, doctor Ana Shergelashvili says talking to me over the trust to Georgian televisions. “Switching to this channel makes no sense” she says, “I don’t believe anything they say. They have been telling such bare-faced lies I don’t know what is going to regain trust. I mainly learn news from Maestro, I watch TV 9 and sometimes Kavkasia – depends on the guest.”

Ana is not the only one having given me this kind of answer but not everyone thinks likewise. Giorgi Manjgaladze, teacher, says he learns news from Rustavi 2 and Imedi. As regards TV 9, Maestro and Kavkasia, he is never watching them. “They are biased,” Giorgi clarifies his approach, “I have always been learning truth from Rustavi 2 and Imedi, and I go on watching them.”     

Nana Zardiashvii, co-author of thinks the polarization of media outlets is not alarming. There is something else that matters. “None of them should be restricted by State machine and they should have equal conditions to operate,” she says, “Pluralistic media environment, to my mind, is to be set up through this kind of polyphony. Almost every Western media outlet openly reports on its political stance – either rightist, leftist or centrist. Publicism is an impossible thing without such stance. To avoid distortion of facts and turning television into the machine disseminating disinformation is essential. And that’s quite an easy task.”

Lies and disinformation are among the accusations most frequently voiced against Georgian media in the recent period. In this regard so many problems have got accumulated that when asking Marina Muskhelishvili, head of Center of Social Studies to name journalist’s main characteristics she says: “The journalist should be intelligent and honest. One should be able to admit that two times two is four, even in case s/he finds it little.” Marina Muskhelishvili, believes that under current circumstances, and not only current, the journalist should be a little bit of a hero/in too since s/he carries immense responsibility.

“There are many journalists that deserve the title of hero, and this kind of gratitude has not yet been voiced by the society. Others do not even match up with the journalist's profession, and, might even fail to continue their efforts in this regard, they will have to change their professions, "- he said, -" Overall, the time has come to launch discussion within the profession over standards, in this very vital period the directions for the next few years are being determined. I would like the journalists to review their stances and try to see the ideological bias wherever they surmise truth.” 

Is there any truth in whatever journalists call this name? – The answer to this question is best seen in the questions that journalists give, or do not give. To my question – “Do you always give questions of concern when preparing material or there were some issues?” – journalist Natia Gogsadze of Rustavi 2 is the only one of the national TV channels having given the answer. "I was mostly working on foreign politics-related issues and I never found it hard to clear up the issues of interest to me,” she said. In general, Natia Gogsadze believes that there are so many new things taking place in the country that work has become more interesting.

Journalist Imeda Darsalia of TV 9 is telling me he had never faced a problem with posing a question. “I would give any question, have never followed the principle of avoidance,” he says. Journalist Ana Broladze of Maestro tells the same: “Owing to my character probably everybody, respondents and colleagues, knows that there is no question that I would not pose. When there is keen public interest I make no borderline between admissible and non-admissible questions.”

For Anna Broladze nothing has changed since this year's fall. "I am working in the same mood I used to throughout these years," - she says - "The interest to the process was immense, due to its importance. I think it was a historical moment, in terms of the handover of the government and re-composition of the new government, and I am glad I was involved in almost every political development.”

Journalist Lika Khurtsidze of GPB 1 is not hopeful about the changes. Reporting to journalists the representatives of the Georgian Dream Coalition openly speak out that the head the public broadcaster should go and they will do that either through the amendment to the law, or with the help of the Board, or any other form, even audit night be applied. I believe it is a direct and undue pressure on the media "- this is the only answer that I received in response to my question from Lika Mkheidze. 

Psychologist Zura Mkheidze says that trust building between the people and the journalists who have been feeding viewers on lies throughout years, will be a very difficult process. "Everything depends on the nature of activity the reporter is carrying out. The journalists, who have been manipulating by false authorship programs, or stories, the issue of trust will look rather tough,"- he said, -"All that, together with moral, is a matter of professionalism too. A well-constructed story based on lies has nothing to do with professionalism.”

Mkheidze is telling me the story which characterizes the recent history of Georgian journalism with extraordinary precision: "A group of students told me they do not trust Rustavi 2 and Imedi. I asked them why, based on what criteria? The response sounded very interesting. A well-known journalist, who was following government's orders and, never reporting the truth, to say the least, turned out to be the lecturer of this group, telling students not to believe anything they reported...”

What the critical period will be like, Georgian journalism is currently facing, time will show. There is always a choice, for people, as well as for the individual. Citing Nana Zardiashvili "The journalist can always refuse to compromise his conscience, choose a media enterprise, whose ideological position he accepts. Eventually, not the profession is that matters but a person with his honesty and fidelity to principles."







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