Georgia’s Media Market Under the Disinformation Lens

Georgia’s Media Market Under the Disinformation Lens

  • October 7, 2020

New research from the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) and the Media Development Foundation (MDF) shows that half of Georgian media sites have high disinformation risks levels. 

These findings are based on analysis of 24 Georgian-language media sites, including some of the highest-traffic and most used sites in the country. 

No site assessed in Georgia has minimum disinformation risks. Only one of the 24 sites was seen as having a low risk level for disinformation: www.on.ge. Risk levels range from 1 (minimum risk) to 5 (maximum risk).

Figure 2: Risk Ratings for Georgia Media Sites

One in four sites in the Georgian media sample had a maximum risk of disinformation. 

This is largely due to the lack of operational checks and balances in the newsroom. For example, nearly 90 percent of all 24 sites in our sample have no hate speech, anti-harassment, defamation or privacy policies for user-generated content. None of the 24 sites included in the sample provides full information on their sources of funding—including broadcasters which are legally bound to report this data. Such policies have been agreed by journalists as part of the Journalism Trust Initiative standard, a universal framework created by media and journalists for their industry.

Still, there are some positive trends that the market study revealed. Overall most content being produced by these sites is not plagued by disinformation risks. Sixty percent of the Georgian sites in the sample produce content that is relatively unbiased, non-sensational and does not attack groups or individuals.

Also, informed online users perceive 20 percent of Georgian sites providing accurate news. Moreover, 40 percent of respondents perceive Georgian media sites to be doing well at correcting errors when they happen. The survey data is based on over 200 respondents.

Figure 3: Average Pillar Score, by Risk Rating

The report is the first of its kind done on the Georgian media market. It applies the GDI methodology for assessing disinformation risk in three areas: the reliability of the site’s content, the site’s operational checks and balances, and how informed online readers perceive the overall context of the sites. The assessment was conducted between April and July 2020. Only the top performing site is named in the report.

The overall market risk score across the three pillars for Georgia is 49 (see Figure 4). Georgia is one of 10 countries which will be assessed in 2020 using this methodology.

Figure 4: Overall Risk Scores, by Pillar

Georgia’s media market is relatively dynamic and new for a country of 3.7 million people. The country is considered to have a highly pluralistic but very polarised media environment. The Soviet legacy of state-controlled media, however, means that many Georgians still have issues of trust with media sites. According to recent research by the Caucasus Barometer, one out of five Georgians distrusts the media.

For this study, we looked at a range of some of the most frequently used media sites in Georgia. We defined reach and relevance based on a site’s Alexa rankings and Facebook and Twitter followers.

The report’s findings serve as a roadmap to address the risk areas that were found. Suggested measures include:

  • Adopt the journalistic and operational standards set by the Journalism Trust Initiative. 
  • Ensure sites publish the names of their beneficial owners and their sources of revenue.
  • Improve and make more visible a site’s correction practices. It is important that such site corrections be clearly seen and understood.
  • Promote site policies to label news and opinion, as this is perceived to be one of the core indicators that is linked to levels of accuracy for media consumers. 

GDI and MDF look forward to working with news sites and media bodies in Georgia to advance these policies and other actions that will create a bulwark against disinformation risks.

If you are interested in learning more about this study or GDI’s work, please contact us via info@disinformationindex.org.

Download report here in English and Georgian.

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