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Future Journalists Urged to Fight Georgian Media Sexism

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, October 17
Media Development Foundation (MDF) presented monitoring results on the coverage of women’s issues by the Georgian media at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) last Wednesday. Frontline Georgia, which often hosts various public discussions, presented the event to journalism Masters students who discussed gender stereotypes in the Georgian media. Ketevan Mskhiladze, media expert, who implemented the project, gave detailed information on how the leading media outlets had been covering gender-related issues from March 15 to April 15, 2011.

The project Media Monitoring for Professional Media carried out with the support of Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) conducted a short-term monitoring focusing on media ethics and other related issues. Experts, contracted by MDF, observed media practices of TV and print media which may become the subject of public discussions which is one of the main objectives of the project.

“The aim of our survey is to raise media criticism in Georgia. This is not in-depth research to judge anyone. We just consider the standards of media ethics and check how the theories are being followed in our media,” Head of Media Development Foundation Tamar Khorbaladze told the audience. The project also aims at encouraging and supporting media studies, researchers, and experts, involving media professionals in discussions on media ethics, stimulating and encouraging discussion on media ethics among society and media professionals, and raising the professionalism of the media through the prevention of media ethics’ violations.

Mskhiladze, who researched gender stereotypes in the Georgian media, spoke of the width of the topic. Explaining that the main victims of discrimination are mostly women, the media analyst explained how journalists violate professional standards with female respondents. GPB, Rustavi 2, Imedi TV, Maestro and Kavkasia TV were the five TV outlets monitored by MDF during their prime time, while Rezonansi, Asaval-Dasavali, Kviris Palitra, Kronika and 24 Saati were their print media targets.

The surveys showed that the Georgian media lacks gender-sensitivity, there are frequent violations of women’s rights by identifying victims of violence as “women criminals”, while the professional standards of covering women’s issues is also improper and their rights are often neglected by the media. Worrying about a lack of analysis on gender-based issues the analyst explained that it is up to the media to help break stereotypes in society, while the media is, on the contrary, strengthening them.

“Georgian media has obviously stereotypical approaches, the journalists think and act according to public stereotypes and violate gender-based equality between the two sexes either in articles or news reports,” Mskhiladze said suggesting that media representatives are either unaware of gender-related issues, or are too lazy to prepare balanced materials.

Encouraging students of journalism to consider the standards of media ethics and become more gender-sensitive, Mskhiladze advised young professionals to balance their materials, involve new people in their articles and fight against gender-based stereotypes. Finally all the results of Media Monitoring for Professional Media will be summarized in a manual for student journalists uniting media ethics and legislative measures which will prevent students from making mistakes in covering the relevant issues.