Project news & updates

EJC Launches Five-Year NL Foreign Ministry Funded Programme in Georgia

23 June 2011 | PRESS RELEASE

 

On 18 June 2011 the EJC officially launched its five-year Netherlands Foreign Ministry funded programme in Georgia, in partnership with Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA). The “Finances and Transparency-New Approaches for Georgian Journalism” project targets a specific niche issue in Georgia’s media landscape, namely: the lack of in-depth, well-researched economic corruption investigative journalism stories. 

The five days of kick off events featured an intensive training of GIPA’s trainers programme led by Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF) training expert Lisa Essex, and panel discussions moderated by Professor Josh Friedman of Columbia University, featuring the Netherlands ambassador, Pieter Langenberg and media leaders from Georgia. (This event can be seen in its entirety at media.ge.)

As Georgia integrates further into the world economy, the issue of corruption and the role of the media become more important, making the upgrading of journalistic professional standards even more important. The project is imperative in the Georgian media context, which lacks in-depth reporting on issues of public finance spending, corruption, and economic crime. 

According to Maia Mikashavidze, the dean of GIPA, “Financial transparency became all the more important in Georgia as the country’s economy develops, becomes sophisticated and higher levels of professionalism are required of journalists to uncover and expose corruption.” 

The project has a strong focus on outputs. While a primary component is to build up the capacity of GIPA and expand and develop its curriculum in the direction of specialised economic reporting, the project partners also encourage the regular publication and broadcasting of hard-hitting reportage by Georgian journalists that have an impact; and remind journalists, government officials, the business community and citizens alike, of the social responsibility of the media in this process. Journalists and media owners will be encouraged to raise the bar on what constitutes professional reporting on economic and financial issues, good governance and corruption through the story mentoring component being developed jointly with the Thomson Reuters Foundation

The timing of the project’s start is crucial. “This is just the right thing at the right time for Georgia,” said Columbia Journalism School Professor, Josh Friedman, who moderated a round table inaugurating the project. “While the Georgian government is still learning to co-exist with a free press, it is saying the right things about the fight against corruption. So there is a window of opportunity now for the EJC and GIPA trainees to take an important part in the ‘society’s watchdog’ role the local media must play to expose corruption.” 

The project is funded by the Netherlands Foreign Ministry (MFSII programme). It is part of a much broader global project entitled Press Freedom 2.0 that includes other Dutch media partners such as World Press Photo, Free Press Unlimited and European Partnership for Democracy, working in 13 countries on five continents. “Our hope is that the tools and methods of best practice investigative journalism developed here in Georgia can be shared at the global level,” says EJC Georgia country project manager, Josh LaPorte, “so that other countries struggling with press freedom and corruption issues can learn from the Georgian experience.” 

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If you would like further information about this topic please contact Project Manager, Josh LaPorte.

Project:
Georgia: Finances and Transparency - New Approaches for Georgian Journalism
Addressing a Georgian-specific problem, namely the absence of investigative coverage of economic corruption issues, the project's objective is to promote excellence in journalism by instituting a competition on the national level. Our work in Georgia also involves journalistic capacity building through training, developed in cooperation with local institutions and international organisations.

Project:
MFSII - Press Freedom 2.0
A five-year, international media development initiative, Press Freedom 2.0 aims to support democratic development by empowering civil society, citizens, and local media organisations through the implementation of local media projects. Conducted by a Dutch consortium, the Press Freedom initiative offers a range of trainings and activities specifically tailored to the needs of 11 selected countries.