The Board of Charter of Journalistic Ethics upheld complaint of Media Development Foundation (MDF) against Rezonansi newspaper at the meeting held on June 30.
The Charter shared opinion of MDF and established that by publishing the article "Arabs, Indians, Iranians and Turks allot Georgian lands" author Mari Chitaia and Rezonansi editorial board breached paragraphs 1 (accuracy) and 7 (discrimination) of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics. According to the paragraphs 1, a journalists must have respect the right of the public to receive accurate information; while paragraphs 7 states that "the journalist shall be aware of the danger of discrimination being furthered by the media, and shall do the utmost to avoid facilitating such discrimination based on, among other things, race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinions, and national or social origins". The Board did not find a violation of the paragraphs 3, which envisages deliberate distortion of the fact.
On May 17, 2017, Rezonansi newspaper published an article on its print edition and online platform titled "Arabs, Indians, Iranians and Turks allot Georgian lands".
On May 29, Media Development Foundation initiated a complaint to the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics demanding it to investigate the issue of violation of paragraphs 1(accuracy), 3 (source) and 7 (discrimination) of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics by the newspaper Rezonansi.
The author of the complaint claims that the article is xenophobic in nature and encourages discrimination. In particular, the journalist is considering alienation of land to foreigners in the context of threat basing on unverified and unconfirmed ("reportedly") information. In particular, the journalist states: "Reportedly, 3-4 new villages, settled by foreign citizens, may be established in Mtskheta. It is not exclusion and the similar threat is facing to Samegrelo, Guria and several villages of Kakheti regions, where Indians, Iranians, Boers, Turks and Chinese citizens are appropriating Georgian lands."
In addition, MDF believes that the title of the article is xenophobic as it describes Arabs, Indians, Iranians and Turks as misappropriators ( "Arabs, Indians, Iranians and Turks allot Georgian lands").
While covering the sensitive issues the incorrect sources and factual inaccuracy occur in the article by changing the context of the quote (published by IPN) voiced by Gocha Jamarauli, Gardabani district governor. Based on IPN's information, Rezonansi releases the statement of Governor about protest in village Kumisi, which is differed from the original version. In particular, Rezonansi version reads: "These lands were purchased in 2008 by one Georgian and one Arab businessman who is also the citizen of Georgia. Then they sold them. The purchase was done properly, however alienation process was unlawful ... " (Resonance 18.05.2017). In IPN version the head of the municipality makes completely different statement: "These lands were purchased in 2008 by one Georgian and one Arab businessman who is also a citizen of Georgia. Then they sold them. The purchase as well as alienation process was conducted lawfully ..." (IPN 15.05.2017).
In the print as well as online edition the world "lawful" is replaced by "unlawful ", which substantially changes the content of the statement and contradicts the first and third principles of the charter.