First Session of Government not Organized for Journalists
There’s been great interest to the new government after the power has been changed. At such times work of journalists is of great importance. The first session of the new government was of big interest for media also, although majority of journalists faced problems when covering the session.
Despite the promise given to media, 31 October, journalists who went to cover the first session of government were not allowed to go up to the twelfth floor of the State Chancellery. They left us at the third floor; 10-15 minutes before the start of session they took microphones and recorders upstairs and then called cameramen.
The hall of government sessions is on the twelfth floor of the State Chancellery. Journalists and Chancellery employees enter the building from the third floor and those who go to the State Chancellery enter the building from the first floor. There was a situation in the third floor hall (that’s where we journalists were and from where part of Ministers entered the building) that it was easy to record comments, although we failed to do it, as we did not have recording equipment with us.
Along with that part of journalists who waited for the high ranking officials on the first floor took comments from Ministers, but were left without comments from the Premier – they physically did not have time to send in recorders and cameras to the session. Only those who came with two cameras were lucky.
Many journalists were outraged due to such working conditions. The only excuse from the State Chancellery was that the government is just being organized, organizational issues still have to be decided upon and that soon they will discuss in what form journalists will be able to obtain information and do their work. Still, none of us could understand why it was a problem for us to wait by the hall of sessions; the location at which all the journalists would have equal possibility to record respondents.
Cameramen also did not have normal conditions to work. They were allowed into the hall of sessions after the Premier started his opening speech; at the end they were given so little time to work that they had to shoot images in extreme conditions.
In parallel, representative of the Press-Service was explaining to the dissatisfied journalists that it was not a problem to record voice-overs again. According to the representative of the Press-Service, the Ministers would give us comments after the end of session. Still, they could not explain us how we could call a two-three-hour late information news, when other media outlets have already reported it.
After we expressed out dissatisfaction it was decided that press-briefing would be held after the completion of the session. It happened so, although the general situation did not change.
It may happen that the problem with journalists will be solved at the State Chancellery in several weeks, although such disorganization at the first session already creates distrust. The problem is not on which floor we will have a room to stay in, but for us to have normal working conditions. It this all continues as it is now there will be no point in the work of journalist as it was when there was the previous Prime Minister; furthermore that as time passes government members have less and less desire to answer questions coming from journalists.
P.S. Journalists’ first concern was expressed when Vano Merabishvili was appointed Prime Minister and restrictions were set for media in the State Chancellery. According to the new norms, journalists were prohibited to wait for the Ministers by the hall of sessions. A special waiting-room was given for journalists, but there was no point to wait: journalists had no possibility to ask questions to Ministers and Primer’s Office sent footage from the government session to televisions itself.