With the slogan "Freedom leads to freedom!" solidarity events-discussions successfully began from Tbilisi, expected to continue throughout Georgia. Strengthening the supportive media environment is the primary goal of the Solidarity Discussion.
The discussion was attended by “Media Voice” experts, journalists, and human rights defenders. In attendance were the representatives of the civil sector: Rafiel Kakabadze and Gvantsa Samkharadze, founders of the organisation "Defenders of Democracy"; Nino Kalandia, a member of the board of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association and an activist.
The discussion was moderated by MCERC Chairman Prof. Mariam Gersamia.
Solidarity journalism was thoroughly discussed: topics included the support for vulnerable groups, forms of solidarity, strengthening the solidarity network of journalists, mutual solidarity between the public and the media, as well as the challenges associated with solidarity between media outlets and the appropriate solutions, etc. The discussion took place in a Thinkathon mode, where participants generate innovative ideas in a small amount of time.
The participants from the discussion expressed their views:
Rafiel Kakabadze, Defenders of Democracy: "Where there is political polarisation, the starting point should be what unites us and not what divides us."
Gvantsa Samkharadze, Defenders of Democracy: "Coordinated work is needed between the civil sector and journalists, because there is only one thing for us to do - protect and strengthen our democracy".
The participants thoroughly discussed solidarity journalism; in particular, how to accurately cover news about vulnerable groups. Nino Kalandia, Georgian Down Syndrome Association: “Now our main concern is inclusion, so that the stigmas that already exist do not deepen further. Media material that include vulnerable groups should not be prepared with the intention of feeling pity. "Journalists are welcome to ask questions about issues they are not familiar with … When working on human rights, it is essential to build a bridge between NGOs and journalists."
Teona Tskhomelidze: "In order for the journalists and organizations to be able to work on these issues, it’s important that they sit down together and share knowledge about how to cover the problem properly".
An interesting discussion took place following the question asked by prof.
Irine Kurdadze: "Is there any kind of training course that will thoroughly teach future journalists about human rights and coverage of vulnerable groups?"
The main partners of the project “Media Voice” are the TSU Institute of International Law (Jean Monet Chair / UEUPE) and the University of Georgia.
MCERC project "Media Voice: More Freedom, Less Self-Censorship in the Media" is implemented with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Georgia.