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Supporting Professional and Ethical Reporting on Children – Media Monitoring

Thursday, November 24
The Civic Development Institute, with UNICEF support, summarized the results of a seven-month long media monitoring exercise at a meeting of media and civil society organisations in Tbilisi.

Media monitoring on children began in March and finished in November 2011. The exercise aimed at examining how Georgian media report on children and to what extent ethical standards are protected. Each case of a violation of ethical standards was documented and followed by the preparation and dispatch of a special appeal to the Charter of Ethical Journalism or to specific self-regulation bodies of different broadcasters.

In total, 23 appeals were sent to seven TV broadcasting companies based upon the monitoring exercise with two of the complaints submitted to the Council of the Charter of Ethical Journalism. This process has contributed to a reactivation of the media self-regulation bodies and, as a result, the initiation of an important dialogue with broadcasters as well as the National Communication Commission.

It became evident during the monitoring process that there was a need to make an amendment to the Code of Broadcasters; specifically, a modification to the definition of an “interested party” which suggested that this term should also include organizations working to protect the rights of children.

“We are happy with what we have achieved,” said Ia Antadze, Chair of the Civic Development Institute. “The suggested amendment has received the support of broadcasters from all over Georgia which means that they appreciated the increase in the number of complaints sent to their self-regulation bodies. This is an unprecedented result. We are grateful to all of the television companies for their collaboration on this issue. We do hope that the amendment will come into force in the near future and that it will allow us to react to each case of unethical reporting immediately and without delay.”

Media monitoring is part of a larger partnership project that has been implemented since February 2011 with the support of UNICEF. A publication compiling national as well as international standards of media reporting on children was produced and disseminated within the framework of the project alongside holding round-table discussions with representatives of media and civil society organizations in ten cities throughout Georgia.

“It is important that journalists themselves initiated the idea for media monitoring on children,” said Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “Many cases of violations of children’s rights in the media happen because journalists sometimes simply do not know the standards and norms of ethical reporting on children. The project was first of all about learning ethical standards of reporting and launching a dialogue. We are happy with the collaboration we had with media organizations and this initiative made an important contribution towards ensuring a more children-friendly media in Georgia.”