At the end of year it is always interesting to look at those international organizations which monitor the situation in media and to see what Georgian journalism has drawn their attention with. It is impossible to properly include all of them in one post so I will speak only about several most important ones.
A reporter without Borders (RWB) – the given organization monitors press freedom throughout the world. RWB has responded to Georgian media related events twice this year. First time it happened in relation to May 26 when during a raid at protest rally Georgian riot police beat up several journalists, seized their equipment and interfered with their professional work.
“According to our sources tens of journalists have become victims of use of excessive force by law enforcers. Reporters Without Borders calls both on the authorities and opposition to respect the journalistic activity and for facts of illegal oppression of journalists by policemen to be immediately investigated,” RWB statement read.
The second given international organization drew its attention to Georgia in July, due to the scandalous arrest of photo-reporters. RWB expressed concern with the arrest of four well-known photo-journalists and called for a fair investigation.
“The authorities obviously have a duty to protect national interests but the current fear of spies in Georgia must not be allowed to fuel a climate of intimidation in the media, and security imperatives must not override democratic principles,” Reporters Without Borders said. As result in RWB rating Georgia is at the 100th place from 178 countries.
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) also responded to the photographers’ case. IFJ expressed concern with the fact that the case has been classified top secret. According to the members of the IFJ the given case was kind of a test for Georgian democracy.
IFJ called on Georgian authorities that the photojournalists were entitled to the presumption of innocence and should have been released to defend themselves as free men in a public trial.
Transparency International Georgia paid attention to Georgia’s advertisement market and just recently publicized a report claiming that Georgia’s advertisement market is characterized with high concentration of power and lack of competition.
As for general assessment of Georgian media situation by other organizations in view of media freedom, Georgia again remains as partly free country according to the Freedom House. Freedom House report reads that despite the fact that legislation is one of the best in the region media is still far from freedom. Freedom House has also criticized the work of the National Commission for Communications.
Human Rights Watch responded to May 26 protest rally dispersal although did not focus on Georgia media but made general assessments and calls.
Despite several scandalous incidents the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) has not written anything about Georgian media. CPJ has been protecting freedom of speech and rights of journalists since 1983.
The reason for this could be lack of information. Additionally, not like our neighboring Azerbaijan and Russia, Georgia is not among the countries where the facts of killings and arrests of journalists are frequent; and the CPJ mainly pays attention to such facts.
Information provided in this post about responses from international organizations to issues related to Georgian media is incomplete, but it is clear that most attention has been paid to interference with journalistic activity during May 26 protest rallies, case of photographers and media freedom situation in general. It is also noteworthy that international organizations do not receive full information about the situation in Georgian media which can be reasoned by many factors, including that Georgian journalists, media representatives and civil society are not adequately integrated into world journalistic societies.