Activities of Religious Minorities in Georgian Media
Salome Achba, www.religiebi.info
According to the media-monitoring results carried out by Internews, newspaper Batumelebi is most active in reporting about religious minorities and newspaper Resonansi is the most passive in this direction.
The Internews monitoring covered period from December 2011 to February 2012. The media-researchers monitored 9 national-wide and 3 regional editions.
Internews media-researcher and an author of the Report Diana Chachua said, Georgian printed media pays less attention to religious minorities than other minority communities. “We can conclude based on the findings gathered during three quarters of the media-monitoring process that newspapers pay less attention to religious minorities in comparison with ethnic and sexual minorities. Periodically, newspapers focus on the issue due to ongoing political processes in Georgia. Articles about religious minorities funded by international projects are also published in newspapers. First of all it demonstrates that publishing of those articles is not part of editorial policy of newspapers and they are just published to implement the assumed responsibilities before the donor organizations.”
According to the monitoring results, religious minorities were covered in printed media mostly in neutral tone.
Georgian printed media reported mostly about Muslim, Catholic communities and Jehovah Witnesses according to the Internews media-monitoring results. They also wrote about Protestants and Baptists but less frequently – this information occupied only 2% of total space dedicated to religious minorities in Georgian media.
According to the Report, media was particularly interested in the planned construction of Aziziye Mosque in Batumi.
“In comparison to previous monitoring periods, media more actively reported about religious minorities in this period. It was caused by planned construction of Aziziye Mosque in Batumi. Since the construction is planned in relatively sensitive region –Adjara, journalists and respondents made a lot of statements on Georgian newspapers who spoke about promotion of Islam religion in Ajara and the Georgian government’s merit in it,” the report reads.
Internews’ media-researcher Diana Chachua said the purpose of the media-monitoring was to promote improvement of media level in the country. “Monitoring of media is function of civil society which will promote establishment of professional and independent journalistic by exposing hate speech cases with regard to minority communities and promotion of public discussion on the problem. The media-monitoring aims to show real picture how these issues are covered and it does not aim to interfere in editorial policy of newspapers. Editorial boards of printed media outlets are independent in their choice to consider our recommendations or not.”
It is noteworthy that after the Internews Georgia published their interim report about media-monitoring, newspaper Asaval-Dasavali published an article about monitoring results.
“It is one of those newspapers which disseminate xenophobic and homophobic statements about minority groups. The journalist evaluated the content and goals of the media-monitoring as unserious and used homophobic and xenophobic terms with regard to monitoring process; thus they again underlined that the newspaper’s editorial board does not accept remarks and recommendations of the Internews Georgia,” Diana Chachua.
The future will show if other media editions will consider the results of the media-monitoring. It will be nice if media refrains from escalation of xenophobia and homophobia in the country.
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