Tbilisi, 25 October 2013 - The Charter of Journalistic Ethics, an independent, non-profit professional journalist association that promotes the values of freedom and democracy, has been systematically monitoring the media coverage of the 27 October presidential election. This project has been conducted in cooperation with the Slovak media-monitoring organization MEMO 98 and with the support of the Open aSociety Foundation Georgia (OSFG).
“Voters were provided with a diverse range of information about different contestants on the basis of which it was possible to make an informed choice,” said Georgi Mgeladze of the Charter. “There was however a general lack of analytical and in-depth coverage that could have helped voters to better assess the qualities and programmes of electoral contestants.”
“There is a clear need to bring the culture of mutual understanding between media and politicians to a different level,” said Zviad Koridze of the Charter. “Politicians have to respect that journalists play an essential role in a free and democratic society.”
“Our monitoring showed that Georgian Public Broadcaster provided a balanced coverage of the campaign,” said Rasťo Kužel of MEMO 98. “We are, at the same time, deeply concerned with the current situation there. Meddling by political parties in the work of GPB has to stop if the important reform of public broadcaster is to be successful.”
“While we saw clear improvements in the media coverage of elections, there are still serious challenges which remain to be addressed,” said media analyst and a former BBC editor Baqer Moin. “Journalists need to be more proactive rather than reactive in their coverage of elections to better facilitate the exchange of opinions, public debate, investigation and commentary that would offer the public fully informed, analyzed and assessed views of persons seeking elected office.”
Charter’s media monitoring was carried out from 2 September through 27 October using qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis and focused on six television channels (GPB, Rustavi 2, Imedi TV, TV Maestro, TV Adjara and TV Kavkazia). Quantitative analysis identified numeric measures or indicators that can be counted and analysed, such as the total amount of time devoted to monitored subjects and also the tone of their coverage (positive, negative, or neutral). Qualitative analysis assessed the performance of media against ethical and professional standards stipulated by a Media Code of Conduct that was initiated by Charter and MEMO 98.
The main goal of the project was to help in improving professional standards during elections. Five TV channels (GPB, Rustavi 2, Imedi, Maestro and Adjara) that signed the code generally followed its principles, with only a very few instances where these principles were not fully respected, which contributed to an overall improvememt in the media coverage of elections. The Charter and MEMO 98 will issue a comprehensive final report, including recommendations for potential improvements, some three weeks after the completion of the election process.