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Media Solidarity Forum “Media Voice from Georgia”

On the 8th of September, on the International Day of Journalists’ Solidarity, Media and Communications Educational and Research Center hosted Media Solidarity Forum titled “Media Voice from Georgia”.

The forum is held with the support of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Georgia, within the framework of the project “Media Voice: more freedom, less self-censorship in media”.

Media Solidarity Forum was opened by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Georgia Maaike van Koldam. The ambassador welcomed the participants of the project “Media Voice”, journalists, representatives of civil society academia. The ambassador paid attention to the role of media in Georgia's democratic development and expressed support towards Geogian media.

The guests were humbly welcomed by the chairperson of MCERC, Professor Mariam Gersamia and the director of the Institute of International Law, Professor Irine Kurdadze.

A session titled "Solidarity for a supportive media environment: freedom of expression and self-censorship in the media" is being held at the Media Solidarity Forum. The session is moderated by Prof. Mariam Gersamia. During the session, international law expert Tamar Aleksidze is speaking about freedom of expression and self-censorship in the context of international law.

“Solidarity towards the media is evident during a crisis, although the public's support for the media and journalists is still considered to be weak in Georgia. What is the reason for this, and what should be done (including by the media) to strengthen the supportive environment?|”- Giorgi Targamadze, the author and host of the TV program “Droeba” spoke about such and other topics. "Institutionalising solidarity is needed. We must spend time thinking about the critical themes to be presented for our international partners as well as the government in order for the necessary practices to be implemented."- Giorgi Targamadze

“To what extent did the fact that the founder of the channel “Mtavari” is in prison and is currently being persecuted hurt the viability of the media? On Media Solidarity Day, what message do we have for journalists and media owners who are being persecuted for their work?”- Natia Gogsadze, journalist and presenter of “Mtavari” TV company, spoke about this issue."To be a journalist it means I must fight for survival so that my screen never goes dark."- said Natia Gogsadze.

"No news about vulnerable groups, without vulnerable groups" – notes Nino Zautashvili, journalist of Public Broadcasting, author and host of "Real Space" television program. She talked about what needs to be changed in the coverage of vulnerable groups so that their rights are better protected and what is the role of the public broadcaster in this process.

"The subject of journalistic ethics and commitment is the proper use of air time and its adequate distribution. Where we face the arrest of Nika Gvaramia, the killing of Lekso Lashkarava, we are obliged to give a proper answer to the Georgian society. There are people in Georgia who know what kind of country we should have and what is needed for the revival of Georgia - these are the people who should be given our airtime…The timeframe dedicated for advertisements has been decreased significantly which has led to the limitation of financial income. Today, media is fighting for survival" - Said Nino Zautashvili.

A session titled "Why Solidarity Journalism" is being held at the Media Solidarity Forum. Within the session, TSU associate professor, and head of the undergraduate journalism program, Maya Toradze, is speaking about how to integrate the component of "solidarity journalism" and human rights components into the journalists’ educational space.

Zura Vardiashvili, the editor-in-chief of the online publication "Publika", drew attention to the process of advocacy of vulnerable groups by the media. He also talked about the risks of self-censorship, as well as creating a supportive and reliable environment for journalists in the newsrooms themselves.

Journalist and media expert Teona Tskhomelidze spoke about solidarity journalism: "The media in Georgia is polarized and unfortunately this situation cannot be changed tomorrow. Nevertheless, even under these conditions, there are certain problems that we can solve, among them is the protection of human rights by the media. This is a necessary topic to work on."- she said.

Davit Kashiashvili, a journalist and host at the television company "Formula", spoke about solidarity journalism, the issues surrounding the coverage of vulnerable groups and what should be done to ensure that the protection of human rights by the media is not fragmented but permanent.

Nino Arazashvili, the program author and host at the television company "TV Pirveli", spoke about the role of educational programs in the issue of media solidarity and how to increase the public's trust in the media.

The International Day of Journalists’ Solidarity was established in 1958 to commemorate the Czech journalist Vilius Fučík. It was during the Second World War that the Czech journalist was arrested and killed by fascists for his journalistic activities.

Several activities (webinar, discussion, podcasts) with emphasis on solidarity are planned by MCERC in September.

Media coverage of the Forum:

Mtavari TV:

TV Pirveli:

Formula TV:

Georgian Public Broadcaster:

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