The role of media in the development of civil society

On April 14, the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation organized a public debate in the city of Poti on the issue of the role of the media in the civil society development process. A major part of the debate was devoted to discussing current problems in this sphere.

Invited speakers included journalist Nino Tuntia, lawyer Giorgi Moistrapishvili, and media expert and journalist Irakli Absandze. The guests also included representatives of the media, non-governmental organizations, civil society, political parties and local government.

Flaws in legislation, low professional standards, self-censorship strengthened by the absence of labor contracts, low quality of media education, lack of media ownership transparency, absence of editorial independence, politicization of regulatory commission – according to the participants of the debate, all of these components thwart the development of the media as well as civil society in general.

The perspective that the media is obliged to provide society with objective information and enable it to take proper decisions dominated the discussion. Civil society and non-governmental organizations carry the obligation to protect, analyze and represent interests of the wider society. At the same time, however, individual members of society – citizens of Georgia – also have a huge responsibility to fulfill their active role and through  these means to promote the stable development of democracy in the whole country. Without active participation of people, true democracy cannot operate.

During the meetings, the necessity of a societal demand for media professionalism was also highlighted; representatives of media always have to strive for professional growth. If a society cannot be provided with the desired level of media quality, or in order to get information they have to understand the context behind the text, society has to refuse such media sources or demand higher quality.

The discussion lasted for two hours. The participants noted that such public meetings should be carried out more frequently as they support establishment of a dialogue culture, as well as make individuals think more about current problems that are not widely discussed.