The workshop and solidarity meeting discussion of the MCERC project "Mediavoice: more freedom and less self-censorship" was held on January 21 and 22 in Zugdidi, at the Center for Democratic Engagement. The meeting, organized by „Media Voice” was attended by journalists, local civil activists, and non-governmental sector representatives.
The goal of the "Mediavoice" project is to support freedom of speech by strengthening the vitality of the media and creating a supportive media environment and in addition, strengthening the capacity of media workers to combat self-censorship and fear. Topics of the trainings are as follows: Media and self-censorship, freedom of speech, human rights and the media, solidarity journalism.
Trainers and experts of "MediaVoice" are:
Irine Kurdadze, director of the International Law Institute (ILI), professor;
Teona Tskhomelidze, media expert and journalist;
Zura Vardiashvili, editor-in-chief of "Publika", lecturer;
Tamar Aleksidze, an expert in the field of international law and lecturer (Institute of International Law).
Sessions were devoted to issues of self-censorship and freedom of expression, the specifics of international law and human rights coverage, solidarity journalism, and accurate coverage of vulnerable groups.
"Journalists justify self-censorship by saying that there are physical or psychological issues and risks behind it, which can come from external and internal actors. To reduce self-censorship, it is necessary to strengthen not only individual but also collective stress resilience. A person in a supportive environment has the resources to cope with stress on his own, but it becomes easier when a supportive environment surrounds them. Therefore, a journalist needs to have a feeling of solidarity in the working environment, this support should be routine, daily, not in a one-time/fragmented form" - said Mariam Gersamia.
International law expert Tamar Aleksidze spoke about freedom of expression, the role of the media in the process of building a democratic society, as well as on permissible limitations and relevant criteria. The participants of the training held an interesting discussion regarding the issue of international regulators of freedom of expression.
Maia Toradze, a member of the board of "Mediavoice", spoke about the importance and need of solidarity journalism, the specificity of coverage of vulnerable groups, and the importance of mutual solidarity between society and the media.
Expert Zura Vardiashvili talked about the specifics of coverage of criminal topics and showed how to provide the public with ethical information about the crime that happened.
Representatives of local media and civil society participated in the solidarity discussion held on January 22.
During the discussion, the ways of institutionalization of solidarity were highlighted. The participants noted that there is a need for more actualization of regional topics, especially with the involvement of the public broadcaster. More attention is needed in terms of covering the topics of vulnerable groups. It is important to have more active cooperation between the media and the CSOs, to increase the credibility of the media, and to initiate discussions for the financial viability of credible media (including the involvement of the public/audience and donors).
The project "Mediavoice: more freedom, less self-censorship in the media" is implemented with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Georgia.