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Religious Issues in Georgian Media


Salome Achba, www.religiebi.info

According to the media-monitoring results carried out by the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs [GIPA], out of religious issues Georgian media mostly reports about Orthodox holidays, construction of new Orthodox Churches and renovation of old ones, events organized by the Georgian Patriarchate and other orthodox ceremonies.

The media-monitoring was carried out in the frame of the UNDP Project and with financial support of the EU. The monitoring results were presented last week.

The May-December of 2011 survey of the GIPA focused on the main news programs of five TV channels – Public Broadcaster, Rustavi 2, Imedi, Kavkasia and Maestro to evaluate the coverage of religious issues in them. Except TV-Channels, GIPA monitored activities of three newspapers – “Resonansi,” “Akhali Taoba” and “24 Hours.”

According to the media-monitoring results, TV channel Kavkasia covers the religious issues most often (35%) and Rustavi 2 is the most inactive in this direction (8%). TV-stories about Orthodox holidays occupy the most time of TV-channels (37%).

“According to the monitoring results, Georgian TV channels take a huge interest in the Christian Orthodox Church and Catholikos Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II. 68% of total reporting time about religious issues was allocated to the Orthodox Church of which 54% personally to the Patriarch and his activities. During its talk about the Patriarch, the Georgian media mostly discussed his everyday activities; Sunday liturgy, statements, sermons, mass baptizing, blessing of different groups of people (among then representatives of specific Georgian names), etc,” the Report of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs reads.

As for the tone of coverage, according to monitoring results, religious issues are mostly neutrally highlighted in Georgian TV-Channels: “In May-September, the tone of reporting on the TV channels was mostly neutral. Reporting about the visit of the Patriarch of Armenia – a hot topic at that time – was also neutral. Accordingly, information regarding the issue was treated as one from the news category. No analysis of material was done,” the Report states.

Only one case of positive reporting was observed during the report-time, as the monitoring report states: “this period of monitoring revealed only one case of use of a “very positive” tone towards an orthodox believer who expressed her happiness and gratefulness in connection with a religious holiday,” the Report reads.

According to the survey, the selected TV channels and printed media report about Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, Evangelist-Baptist Churches and Muslim Community neutrally.

According to the Report, the media-monitoring revealed that when covering the religious issues, the selected media-outlets mention the governmental institutions too. The context of similar reportage is mostly the aid of the government towards the Orthodox Church.

“While reporting about religious issues involving governmental activities, journalists focused on the aid provided by the authorities. They mostly discussed its support to the Georgian Orthodox Church in the construction of new and rehabilitation of old churches. The monitoring group registered only one case when the government was mentioned in a negative tone: the Labor Party accused the authorities of adopting a discriminatory policy towards the Georgian Orthodox Church,” the report reads.

According to the study, religious issues are often revealed in Georgian media. However, the materials did not contain problematic issues and mostly it covered religious holidays or church services. The materials did not contain analytic and critical elements and mostly they are “news” type stories.

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