Media and Communication educational and Research Center (MCERC) conducted an online presentation of the survey “Pre-election media environment: threats, expectations, recommendation” on July 17. The webinar was attended by representatives of academia and wider public, students and journalists. A lively discussion moderated by Associated professor Maia Toradze followed the presentation.
At the presentation, chairwoman of MCERC, and author of the study prof. Mariam Gersamia presented the main findings from the first phase of the research. Findings of the online-survey identified challenges and safety risks media workers face during the pre-election period and answers the questions as it follows:
While doing their job, how safe/unsafe media workers feel during pre-election period?
What kind of threats media workers expect and from which groups?
What should media do for ensuring media workers’ safety?, etc.
The results reflect data collected between July 28-August 4, through an online survey.
The sample (183 respondents from 56 media outlets – 18 regional media included) contains journalists/reporters, editors, and producers, media managers, media owners, cameraperson, bloggers etc.
Main findings of the survey:
According to the survey, 78 % of media workers say, that media environment has worsened in 2021 compared to 2020. Only 3.2 % say it has been improved and 13.6 % says - it has not been changed.
While assessing the pre-election media environment, 63 % of respondents say media employees are very or mostly unsafe. Only 8.2 % says, they are very or mostly safe;
Majority of respondents (89 %) say, that aggression and threats towards them will increase in pre-election period. 11 % says they ‘do not know’ and no one says that aggression and threats will NOT increase.
Majority of media workers (85 %) expect verbal and/or physical violence against them during the pre-election period. However, Other forms of direct and indirect violence (e.g., constant accusations/blaming, spreading rumors, discrimination, blackmail, persistent impairment and ridicule, etc.) are also mentioned in more than 40 % of the answers.
According to the survey, 83 % expect such threats from anti-Western groups and 79 % - from the government. There is high rate of negative expectations (50-70 %) from religious groups, social network users (trolls and bots included), and criminals.
Respondents expressed their opinion on safety tools, which media organizations can provide for ensuring media safety during crisis. For ensuring media safety, majority of respondents (74 %) think, that media representatives should cooperate with local and international organizations more closely. For 70 % of respondents, additional tool for safety is providing with timely legal support to victims, as well as expressing support and solidarity to critical media and journalists more promptly (69 %), reduce media coverage to aggressive groups (64 %), identify them on social networks (59 %), conduct trainings on safety issues: covering crisis and demonstrations (39 %), providing timely psychological support to victims (32 %), etc.
The study made recommendations for building a supportive, safe media environment, enhancing coordination and promoting solidarity among media workers (during the crisis period and afterwards).
Survey has been conducted in frame of the project “SAFE Media”. The full report will be available online at Media and Communication Educational and Research Center’s website: www.mcerc.ge