The Georgian Government should not reproach TV Maestro for its critical TV report
The Government of Georgia released a statement criticizing a TV report that aired on May 18 on Maestro in a TV show hosted by journalist Vakho Sanaia. The statement says that the TV report was biased as the journalist attempted to prove that the Government had not kept up to any of its pre-election promises.
The Government’s statement does not mention any of the factual mistakes made in the report and it only criticizes the journalist for its attitude. The statement mentions that it was the journalist’s attention to show that the Government has not kept its promises; for this purpose he interviewed people in the street and “selected those answers that would support his point.”
We think that this can be assessed as an attempt of the Government to interfere in the editorial policy of a critical media outlet. In a country where media is free, independent media should not be attacked for its criticism of government.
This is not the first case when this government publicly slams individual journalists and lectures them on journalism standards. Such actions may also indicate to public servants that this kind of approach is an acceptable way to deal with media.
Any representative of the government has to accept that not all media coverage will be to his or her liking. Critical analysis of the Government’s actions and their pre-election promises is of utmost importance preceding self-governance elections and may help the voters to make informed decisions. It is the primary function of media to monitor the Government and thus defend legitimate public interests. This inconvenient scrutiny helps keep officials and politicians accountable and that is why a free and pluralistic media is a key aspect of a democracy.
Georgian media is now free and journalists are capable of offering critical analysis to the public. The Government should regard this as a major achievement and it cannot become the reason for the Government to interfere in media and reproach journalists.
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