On July 23 and 24, seminars and solidarity events/discussion of the MCERC project "MediaVoice: media - more freedom and less self-censorship" were held at the Samtskhe-Javakheti Media Center in Borjomi. Journalists, local civil activists and representatives of the non-governmental sector took part in the meetings organized by the Educational and Research Center of Media and Communications (MCERC).
The goal of "MediaVoice" project is to support freedom of speech by strengthening the vitality of the media and creating a favorable media environment. In addition, strengthening the capacity of media workers to combat self-censorship and fear. Topics of the training: 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, expert in the field of international law and lecturer (Institute of International Law).
At the meeting held in Borjomi, journalists from "TV Borjomi", newspaper "Borjomi" and "Samkhreti Karibche" newspapers were present.
The project was opened by the founder and chairwoman of MCERC, prof. Mariam Gersamia. During her session, she talked about self-censorship and freedom of speech. "In the fight against self-censorship and fear, it is important to have a collective resilience in dealing with stress and to understand this problem not from the individual level, but from the structural level. A journalists should have a supportive and reliable environment in the newsroom, which helps them cope with stress. They should have the opportunity to discuss problems related to self-censorship in workplace" she said.
Director of the International Law Institute Prof. Irine Kurdadze, within the session - "Freedom of Expression and Media", spoke about the place and role of freedom of expression in international human rights law, the role of journalists and media in building a democratic state, etc.
Maia Toradze, an associate Professor and Board Member of MCERC, spoke about the importance of the media and solidarity with the media. "If critical questions are muted, the society will not be well informed and that threatens democracy. The challenges associated with self-censorship are especially visible in the regional media, so regional journalists especially need solidarity from the public," Maia Toradze said.
Expert of "Mediavoice" Teona Tskhomelidze spoke about the standards of coverage the femicide. "Covering of femicide is associated with risks: accusation of the victim, identification and promotion of the crime", Teona Tskhomelidze noted. Regional journalists took part in a practical session and discussed commonly done mistakes in covering femicide. The training took place in a question-answer mode.
Expert Zura Vardiashvili spoke about the coverage of ethnic and religious groups. The expert emphasised the importance of terminology. After the session, media experts and lawyers discussed the legality of using sensitive and neutral terminology in the process of covering minorities.
An interesting discussion took place on the topic of relationships between politicians and journalists and professional ethics. Media representatives noted that familiarity relations with politicians are unacceptable and it is important to keep a formal distance. They discussed real problems and ways to solve them as applied to these topics and shared their experience.
In frame of the "Media Voice" campaign, journalists created their own messages:
on July 24, Representatives of mass media and active non-governmental organizations operating in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region took part in the solidarity event/discussion. Among them were: Youth Center «Green Borjomi»; "Samtskhe-Javakheti Media Center" and "Oasis". Public Broadcasting journalist and media psychologist Liana Markariani took part in the discussion as a guest speaker.
At the end of the meeting in Borjomi , a memorandum of cooperation was signed between the media and communication educational and research center and the Samtskhe-Javakheti media center, which was signed by Mariam Gersamia and Marina Kupatadze.
In the coming months, similar workshops and discussions with the involvement of media workers will continue throughout Georgia. MCERC actively cooperates with media organizations and higher educational institutions. The main partners of the "Mediavoice" project are the Institute of International Law of TSU (Jean Monet Chair / UEUPE), the University of Georgia and "Publica".
The MCERC 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.
Media coverage of the event by TV Borjomi: https://bit.ly/3z0PUFu