8th November 2021
By Wendy Collinson

Building Trust in Journalism – Georgia

The Ethical Journalism Network, together with their partners the Evens Foundation and Fritt Ord Foundation, have produced the following report which looks at the challenges that the media are facing in Georgia. This report is part of a series of reports that have been published over the last 10 months on the media situations in Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, with a report on Ukraine to come. This report includes a set of clear recommendations for the media and policy communities to take forward.

Building Trust in Journalism – Georgia provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities facing the media in Georgia. Based on desk research and key stakeholder interviews from across the media landscape, it finds that the Georgian press is pluralistic but highly politicised, polarised and as a result often unethical. Competing political interests are the drivers of pluralism at the large, politically affiliated television stations and websites rather than any genuine attempt to inform the Georgian public in an unbiased, balanced and ethical manner. Local media and independent websites are making a genuine effort to inform the population.

Georgia is a deeply telecentric society but stations are affiliated with either the government or the opposition with little room for alternative opinions in their output. As a result, consumers seek out media that conforms with their existing political affiliations, serving to split society into bubbles. Obtaining a more balanced view of the news is only possible by switching between opposition and government stations, as well as dipping into the few independent online media outlets, small local TV, radio and websites and minority media outlets. The Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) is required by law to produce content free from political bias but has little credibility among viewers and is widely seen as an instrument of the government of the day. This is also true of the country’s media regulator, the Communications Commission (ComCom).

As most large outlets serve political parties rather than the public, audience trust in the media is low. Websites supported by the donor community are the country’s most independent and reliable source of journalism, with several sites producing content of a high standard, but their impact outside the major cities or among the diaspora is limited. They are also unsustainable without the financial support of international organisations. Some will not survive if donors’ priorities move elsewhere and funding dries up.

Online and offline, violence against journalists is increasingly common, especially during election periods, and has been fuelled by the incendiary statements of politicians, many of whom see a free press as an obstacle to their ambitions rather than the foundation of a
democratic society.

Download the report

The Evens Foundation

The Evens Foundation aims to contribute to rethinking and building a European reality committed to the values of diversity, freedom, responsibility and solidarity. We identify and support innovative ideas and achievements through our prizes and calls, initiate experimental projects bridging the gap between research and practice, and facilitate knowledge exchange through our lectures, seminars, debates and publications.

The Fritt Ord Foundation

The Fritt Ord Foundation is a private non-profit foundation that is intended to protect and promote freedom of expression, public debate, art and culture. We work internationally, concentrating on projects directly related to freedom of expression and free journalism.