Media polarisation continued to grow in Georgia after the elections, according to post-election media monitoring in the eight weeks following the 2020 parliamentary elections (February-March 2021), according to findings released on 23 April by the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The key findings show that media polarisation continued to grow even after the election cycle officially ended, as political themes – such as the parliamentary boycott, EU-led mediation between the parties, and the detention of opposition leader Nika Melia – dominated the media agenda.
This was especially evident on television. Some TV stations manipulated their audiences by spreading unverified information, while accuracy remained a problem in the print media too. In contrast, digital publications were less polarised and more balanced: they mostly refrained from discriminatory language, covered a wide range of electoral activity and provided a relatively impartial account of events.
“The research showed that the vicious circle in which the political polarisation was feeding the media, which, in turn, was feeding the political tensions, continued, strongly affecting society,” noted Evija Kotan, Deputy Head of Political Section at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia. “We very much hope that with the successful conclusion of the months-long political stand-off, the media will play its role in reducing the polarisation through resorting to more journalistic ethics and better standards.”
The EU-funded survey was implemented in partnership with Georgian civil society organisations: the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics, Internews Georgia and CRRC-Georgia. The post-election research covered 33 media outlets, including 12 television stations, 8 print newspapers and 13 online editions.
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