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“Newsocracy” as Part of Government

02.01.2012 12:51

Formality has been considered; owners of the broadcasters “hiding behind” offshore zones revealed themselves completely fulfilling the requests of the amendments made to the Law on Broadcasters in April 2011.  Among the owners of Rustavi 2, Imedi, Sakartvelo and Evrika are former minister of economics, brother of Mtskheta-Mtianeti governor and owners of companies that have many times won State tenders.  Thanks to the amendments made to the law the largest share in the “newsocracy” of Rustavi 2 and Imedi comes not on some abstract Denal Union registered in Virginia Islands and Raak Georgia Holding registered in Panama, but quite precise persons:  Giorgi Arveladze, Iago Chocheli, Giorgi KOrakhashvili, Levan Karamanishvili, Giorgi Gegeshidze and etc.; although it is doubtful the society will gain anything from this knowledge.  In the best case we will be able to more precisely choose the objects of criticism, which, if they count it necessary, may even respondent to us, but those who make decisions and control the “newsocracy” of largest broadcasters will probably again be silent.  As one of the French thinkers said the real enemies of the public are always silent!

Apparently the amendments to the law will not make any significant changes, furthermore that journalists themselves do not oppose propaganda and bad journalism.  Opposing the employer (broadcaster owner) is not easy even in the countries with developed democracy.  Here’s what Claude-Jean Bertrand, Professor of Press University of the University of Paris, author of the book Media Ethics and Systems of Accountability, published in 2004 by the Freedom Institute, says:

“Considering that journalists are hired employees it is clear they will not be able to openly oppose their employers. How can they avoid being so dependent?  The best solution to such a problem is professional approach to your job.  This means being the best in:  covering events and trends, interviewing decision makers, data collection, clarifying facts and ideas and providing materials.”

The French professor meant that journalists working for TV broadcasters should at least have the will to “avoid being so dependent.” It is clear such a will is a necessary, although, not enough condition for being independent.  But, do our journalists have such a will?

In Rustavi 2 and Imedi reports government is always good (protagonist) and opposition is bad (antagonist).  Government fights the enemy and builds (hospitals, roads…) and cares about people while opposition always acts as directed by enemies, tries to ruin what has been built and is the public enemy.  This is the general scheme which must be followed by both beginners and already experienced journalists.  Furthermore, the experienced journalists are the ones who do not leave any space for independent activity for the beginners.  Right the experienced and well-known journalist created a whole trend (genre in genre, if you wish) which can be named “Gogotistics” after its pioneer.  For preparing a report typical for the given genre you need to know   several sayings, or general sentences, when making up quibbles you must lack taste, sense of reasonability and must divide the world into two parts – us and them! Additionally “we” are always smart and patriots and “they” are always fools and traitors!

Of course journalists must also hope for public support.  According to the same French professor:  “when proposing perfect journalistic services journalists gain public support to media, as to industry, to fourth branch of government – as institution and to themselves – as information collectors and processors.  Whenever there have been attempts to oppress journalists unjustly, they have always tried to protect themselves by means of professionalism.” 

Still, in Georgian TVs the behavior of journalists, editors and owners looks very much like a party comrades’ unions leveled hierarchically, which is not aimed at collecting information (according to standards) and circulating it, but playing against political opponents.  It is not a accidental that Rustavi 2 and Imedi do not have political talk-shows, or debate format programs which would allow political forces of different orientation, or public groups would publicly discuss and dispute.  Georgia, as a country facing multiple unbearable problems must permanently be looking for solutions but the TVs instead of identifying, discussing and analyzing important problems, propose entertaining programs to the audience.

Rustavi 2 has the Talented, Profile, Comedy Show and Geostar and Imedi – Nanuka’s Show and 100 C.  The most unfortunate is that the April 2011 amendments to the Law on Broadcasters do not improve the situation.  What difference does it make if Giorgi Arveladze will be a representative of Raak Georgia Holding, or holder of 45% of Georgian Media Production Group shares?  Giorgi Arveladze has already announced that in 2012 Imedi plans a new show – Dances with Stars!  What can we say?  All this looks very much like the phrase from the movie Lazare:  Are you hungry? (For freedom, culture and etc.) Dance!

P.S. We have not said anything about the Public Broadcaster that does not have an owner at all and not because nobody needs it.  Just because it has a different status; the intermediate part of formal owner is absent and of course the real (meaning the one that’s silent) is the same here too, although the Public Broadcaster at least gives some freedom to breath, thanks to two-three exclusive programs, which is not that unimportant for the TV-audience already in informational asphyxia!

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