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02.07.2013 11:48

Josh LaPorte - Hopefully Georgian Media Will Become Similar to Business, and Abandons Its Political Model

Interview

Caucasus School for Journalism & Media(GIPA) together with European Journalism Center delivers trainings and awards journalists. Josh LaPorte, Regional Coordinator of EJC, has been interviewed by Media.Ge in Tbilisi

- We are implementing a five year program, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, in Georgia. We help GIPA in development of its training curriculum, so that it becomes better, approaching the level of, for instance, School of Journalism of Columbia University, or various educational institutions of the Netherlands. We as well deliver trainings for lecturers. We have investigative journalism as our focal point, and we’re interested in the issues of business and economy for that matter. We have set up Joshua Friedman Prize for the purpose to encourage journalists to write more investigative articles and express themselves in this field. Last week, together with the University of Columbia, we carried out a trainings dedicated to the issue of data collection. Currently there many media outlets and media schools that have become interested in data bases, as the issue of journalists’ using those oceans of information has become of importance.

What are the future plans of your organization?

- We’re deepening our cooperation with the School of Journalism of the Columbia University, which is the best media school in the world. Namely, we’re planning to launch an exchange program for lecturers, training course for students, as well as training for lecturers and trainers, and working with data bases will remain our main focus.We are as well going to establish a class of technical media(media engineering), where journalists and media developers will study together. We’ll have relationship with  two or three western schools and we’ll develop joint curriculums. Generally, journalists and media developers do not understand each other well, while it’s important that they efficiently work together. This is the future of media.

- They teach in media schools how to make a quality journalism, but the graduates are usually faced with different environment. Or the salary might be inappropriate, or editorial policy unacceptable. What a journalist should do in this situation?

- Something like that happens not only in Georgia, being the live issue elsewhere in the world. TV journalist in general have high salaries, whereas many other journalists that really work hard aren’t duly paid. Those that come in journalism are presumably informed about the situation, and know that the journalistic spirit is what really matters. They should know as well that journalism is a lifestyle, and realized that this is something they want to do for the rest of their lives, something which stands above everything else. Media in Georgian is polarized, though the situation seems to have improved to a certain extent, yet it remains hard to make successful career in such polarized environment. However, when you decide to become a journalist,  you must be devoted to your job, struggling to fulfill your goals, and realize the role of media in democratic society. I hope that things will change and Georgian  media adopts the form of business and abandons its political model.

Results of the latest researches carried out by Georgian National Communication Commission and Transparency International-Georgia show TV industry still being a leader in the advertising market- holding more than 70% of it. The share of online media is very small in this respect. So what is the perspective of the latter?

- The things that happen in Georgia as well happen in other countries of the world, that is to say that more and more advertisement drift towards television. The online media, however, attracts the same amount of advertisement as does the press, slowly taking its place. Newspapers are closing all over the world, the youth no longer reads the press, as they have opted for tablets in terms of receiving information. Therefore advertisement shifts towards the online media. Yet there it’s hard for me to make the accurate prospect of what may happen in the future. We’re all keeping eye on the process, so when the time comes we all see what will happen.

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