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Regional journalists to work out a journalists’ charter

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, December 2
Georgian regional journalists have initiated working out a journalists’ charter, the head of the Institute for Civil Development, Ia Antadze, has stated. In her open letter she wrote that “the best regional journalists are ready to voluntarily cast aside the nearly unlimited freedom granted by the Law on Freedom of Speech and elaborate a specific list of ethical principles to guide their actions.”

According to Antadze, some journalists in Georgia misuse the Law on Freedom of Speech, which is “very liberal and good,” and thus “decrease the trust of society in journalists.” The head of the Institute for Civil Development states that the current law pushes some media representatives to be less careful towards their responsibilities to society and specific persons. “Adopting the journalists’ charter does not mean that the law on freedom of speech has some shortcomings in it,” Antadze writes.

The charter will be worked out jointly by the journalists. Antadze says that after signing the charter the journalists will elect a council which will later create a logo for the charter. She said the logo will serve as a “quality mark” attached to every piece of work from the journalists who have joined the charter. If any of the member journalists violate the conditions of the charter they will lose the logo.

Antadze told The Messenger that within about 2 months the initiators of the charter will be consulting with interested journalists in order to work out 10-15 principles, and afterwards meetings will be held to define each principle precisely to avoid misunderstandings. She said the next step will be consulting with foreign experts, to find out how compatible the principles that might be drawn up are with international standards.

Experts from the European Council and European Union are also involved in the process of formulating the document. Antadze says that the experts will also serve as mediators in relations between Georgian journalists and the owners of big media organizations, as well as with the Government. “Several international organizations are ready to help create and monitor the charter, and also help young journalists develop in order for them to obtain the charter logo,” Antadze’s statement reads.

“We do not want this charter to be only for regional journalists. That’s why I have written an open letter, so everyone interested in our plan can give us their suggestions. We have already received about 25 comments within a day,” Antadze said.

Antadze noted the charter will be beneficial for both journalists and society. It will distinguish responsible journalists from those without a sense of responsibility, she said. “As a result we will have journalists with the logo and those without it,” she said, adding that it is the responsibility of the working group itself to ensure that the logo gains sufficient respect in society. “I hope that eventually we will see a situation where journalists and media outlets with logo will be more trusted and more in demand,” Antadze added.