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Georgian, European journalists exchange views about journalism

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, October 4
Last Friday, Georgian and European journalists gathered at the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia to share their experience in journalism under the umbrella of the EU Prize for Journalism 2013 launched by the European Union.

Tina Tsomaia, professor at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) and Giuseppe Vasques, communications officer at the EU Delegation to Georgia, moderated the master class. Vasques emphasized the role of journalists in informing people by doing their best to remain committed to ethics, developing the capacity to understand information and delivering it to their audience.

The President of the European Journalist’s Association, Paolo Magagnotti, said information is the precondition for participation, which is also a precondition for democracy. Stressing there is no better system than democracy, Magagnotti said the media should promote and strengthen this system through participation in policy making like the other citizens.

Discussing the relationship between the media and politicians, Magagnotti said journalists should investigate, research and study as much as possible about a particular topic, make an archive and keep a database. Otherwise, their reporting is little more than propaganda, Magagnotti suggested.

Magagnotti said civil society should have an active role in a democratic society. However, he said only well informed people can influence policy in a positive way.

Although every association has their own code of ethics, all the participants in the master class agreed that politicians should make laws.

Brussels correspondent for the Italian news agency ANSA, Chiara Spegni, focused on the challenges the media is facing on a daily basis and media ethics including the usage of on/off the record information.

Talking about the pros and cons of traditional and new media, Spegni said the new media should learn about professionalism from traditional media, while traditional media should adopt some of the flexibility of the new media to become faster. However, she also stressed the importance of the verification of information.

Sharing her experience as the journalist working in Brussels, she said the EU is an amazing project, while living in Brussels among the 1000 journalists from the EU member states is an interesting experience.

BBC Media Action Trainer Petko Georgiev told the participants how the media have encouraged democratic changes in Bulgaria and the challenges of the media during the last 20 some years.

Georgian journalists also had an opportunity to discuss problems of the local media. Most of them agreed that even social media has become over politicized while the public needs more social coverage. Low salaries were identified as one of the main problems for journalits, and some also spoke of the media as a political tool.

The EU Prize for Journalism is “the first of its kind in Georgia to acknowledge the work of those Georgian journalists who have demonstrated journalistic integrity and professionalism.” The first EU Prize for Journalism Georgia was announced in 2012.

This year the project offers professional journalists, editors, bloggers, web publishers, and NGOs an opportunity to nominate the best journalistic work in four categories:

• Best investigative or opinion article in printed or online media;

• Best investigative or opinion TV and Radio report;

• Best social media profile/blog or blog post promoting vivid, balanced, fair, pluralistic debates able to illustrate EU values;

• The most informative news agency or online newspaper.

The prize will be awarded in the spirit of respect for media pluralism, and in the context of the European Union’s desire to improve communication between EU institutions and Georgian citizens. This year’s jury features members from the EJA, ANSA and the Financial Times.

Moreover, within the framework of the EU Prize for Journalism in Georgia the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) also launched a Special Prize for Peace Journalism. The Special Prize will reward conflict-sensitive journalistic work, empowering reporters to cover conflict-related issues constructively.

The winning journalist will be provided with an attractive fellowship allowing him or her to participate in the Caucasus program at the headquarters of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) in London. The program is entitled Building Bridges/Building Capacity: Conflict Prevention in the South Caucasus.

Nominations for both projects are open until November 4, 2013.