Media Environment 2022: Threats and Supportive Instruments in Georgia
Authors: Mariam Gersamia, Maia Toradze
The purpose of this study is to assess the threats and supporting mechanisms present in the Georgian media environment in 2022. Observation of the media environment, similar to the previous year’s research, was based on the evaluation of the participants involved in the research and further comparative analysis.
The research highlights the impact of political polarization and crises on media viability and the impact of global and local crises (including Russia’s war in Ukraine) on the media environment; focuses on the extent to which the safety of journalists is ensured in Georgia, how the investigation of crimes committed against journalists is conducted, and what is being done to end any impunity. Based on the challenges that have existed since previous years, the study analyzes the existing threats in relation to self-censorship and freedom of expression.
How media manage to maintain institutional viability (e.g., financial sustainability, content production, relationships with sources and access to information) is particularly important in the context of political polarization. In this process, the hindering and supporting mechanisms present in the media from the side of various actors are evaluated. The study includes an evaluation of solidarity journalism as a support mechanism through the lens of situations observed in 2022: 1. Solidarity towards the media; 2. Mutual solidarity between media outlets; 3. Solidarity from the media towards various vulnerable groups.
At the beginning of the study, the key events influencing the media agenda and media environment are highlighted. One of the main aspects of the research is the assessment of the challenges in the Georgian media environment as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis that followed. In this regard, under the existing conditions of Russian propaganda, the possible mechanisms of the influence of disinformation and its reduction are analyzed. The direct connection of artificial polarization, as a propaganda mechanism, to the Russian hybrid war, which deliberately destroys the credibility of journalism as a profession, is highlighted.