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Elections and the media

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, October 4
A lack of analytical analysis, biases, superficial coverage and a shortage of resources were named as problematic issues by four NGOs that are carrying out media monitoring during the election period. The Caucasus Research Resource Centre (CRRC), Internews Georgia, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) and Civil Development Institute (CDI) presented a report on media monitoring on October 3rd at the Radisson Blue Iveria Hotel. Election media monitoring has taken place as part of the project "Professional Media for Elections" supported by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since May 2013. The NGO's have monitored TV, radio, print and online media outlets during the election period. The NGO's established criteria and methodologies to analyze news, political and election related talk shows.

“There were cases when some channels did not cover some news at all in their main news stories. Likewise, the same news event was covered differently on various channels.” Keti Chubinishvili from CRRC Georgia, stressed. She also stated that five main subjects were covered on all the monitored channels (except Adjara TV): the United National Movement (UNM), the government, Georgian Dream, the president and the prime minister.

“It is positive to say that, in total, there was no clear polarization observed from August to September, inclusive, on a majority of channels.” Chubinishvili stated. She emphasized that among the media outlets, Georgian Public Broadcaster covered events most impartially.

CRRC stated that among the private channels, Maestro was the only one where any particular bias towards a political party was observed.

“Positive coverage of candidates is quite high on all the channels, including extensive and active coverage of their campaigns, speeches and statements.” CRRC stresses.

Key findings concerning radio monitoring were: identical coverage of news by various radio stations, dry presentation of news and practically no coverage of election programs. Most radio coverage of presidential candidates seemed impartial.

Nino Tabatadze, from ISFED, stated that print media mostly covered Giorgi Margvelashvili, Davit Bakradze and Nino Burjanadze.

“The Georgian print media have provided practically no information about the programs of the various presidential candidates.” Tabatadze said. She added that in general, the majority of newspapers try to follow high journalistic standards and offer diverse and exhaustive information on a variety of topics.

Asaval-Dasavali and Alia were found to have used defamatory language in some of their articles. Tabatadze said that The 24 Saati delivers a great diversity of news, but lacks analysis. No photo manipulations were observed in any newspapers except Asaval-Dasavali. Several journalistic investigation articles in Akhali Versia were positively assessed.

The monitoring mission described and as having clear biases against Georgian Dream. was cited as balanced and impartial. Ethical standards are high on English language online media and

“A superficial approach to issues, a lack of resources and a discrepancy between headlines and texts." were named as major problems for online media outlets. The organizations stressed that their main aim is assisting the media and appealed to media outlets to think about the problems the report cited.