Decision - Public defender vs. Giorgi Mgeladze
31.03.2017

Applicant : Public Defender;
Respondent : Giorgi Mgeladze;
Principle : Not Upheld;
Decision N 112
February 8, 2017

Case - Public defender vs. Giorgi Mgeladze

Head of Council: Maia Metskhvarishvili

Members of Council: Nino Jafiashvili, Tazo Kupreishvili, Jaba Ananidze, Tea Zibzibadze, Tamar Uchidze.

Applicant: Public Defender

Respondent: Giorgi Mgeladze

Description 

Public defender office applied to the Charter of Journalistic Ethics. Applicant thought that Studio Monitori video, which was published on 10th of June 2016, “Who did Ucha Nanuashvili buy 105 000 lari car for” and video of 16th of June about the driver of Natia Katsitadze, vice public defender, buying a car, violated principles 1, 7 and 11 of the Charter. The responsibility for these videos was taken on by Studio Monitori Editor in chief, Giorgi Mgeladze.

Respondent and applicant representative attended the case discussion.

Findings of the Council

Video: “Who did Ucha Nanuashvili buy 105 000 lari car for”

According to the first principle of the Charter: “Journalist must respect truth and public’s right to get correct information”.

According to the applicant, journalist violated the first principle with this phrase: “according to the information available to Studio Monitori, Ucha Nanuashvili decided to give Mercedes-Benzes GLA to his vice, Natia Katsitadze”. The applicant said that this information was not correct. Applicant showed N118 order of Public defender of 5th of April, 2016, which said that Mercedes-Benzes GLA was available for the office and was not given to a specific person. Council does not agree with this evaluation and thinks that journalist did not say that Natia Katsitadze was supposed to use Mercedes-Benzes GLA due to these reasons:

  1. Journalist says that the information [Mercedes-Benzes GLA was given to Natia Katsitadze’s driver] was given to him by source and tries to check this information through the whole video. The sentence is a question is preceded by the phrase: “Who is the 105 000 lari car bought for?” so the journalist asks the question and gives the audience information provided by an anonymous source. Then he asks questions to the second source – public defender Ucha Nanuashvili and Natia Katsitadze. He asks Ucha Nanuashvili to comment on order N113 of 28th of March, 2016, according to which, the car was given to Nikoloz Baliashvili, Natia Katsitadze’s driver. Public defender answers, that the car is not provided to one person and it is used as needed. Journalist contacts Natia Katsitadze for the commentary, who also says that the car does not belong to her [her driver].  Journalist asked for the N113 order of 28th of March, 2016 and all the orders concerning the car Mercedes-Benzes GLA via 2 emails sent on the same day.
  2. The journalist got N113 order with covered up [the name of who was granted the use of Mercedes-Benzes GLA was covered] name. The journalist also says that he had the order 113 with no covers given by the confidential source, where it was said that the car was given to Natia Katsitadze’s Driver, Nikoloz Baliashvili. This fact was not disputed by any party.
According to everything said above council thinks that the first principle was not violated because:
    • The journalist did not affirmatively say that the information was true [Mercedes-Benzes GLA was to be used by Natia Katsitadze].
    • The journalist said that the source was confidential.
    • Journalist showed evidence [N113 order of 28th of March, 2016] to prove the source information.
    • Asked second party [Ucha Nanuashvili, Natia Katsitadze] about the case and provided their comments to the audience.
    • He did not get the N118 order of 5th of April, 2016 even though he asked for it.
Therefore, the journalist tried to check the information, used all resources available to do that and give the audience enough insight, show them all relevant parties and give them the ability to check whether Mercedes-Benzes GLA was supposed to be used by Natia Katsitadze.

The applicant also said that the text “Public defender’s office is hiding to whom the Mercedes belongs” violated the first principle. Council cannot share this opinion and thinks that journalist had rights to think that information was not freely given, because:

  • He was not given all the orders about the car.
  • Even though the journalist had N113 order of 28th of March, 2016 where it said that the car was given to Natia Katsitadze’s driver, this information was denied by Ucha Nanuashvili and Natia Katsitadze.

According to the principle seven of the Charter: “journalist must understand the dangers of supporting discrimination by media. Therefore, he or she should do everything to avoid discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other kinds of views, national or social status and any other reason”.

The applicant said that the video was discriminatory towards Natia Katsitadze’s gender because when sharing it people said that Natia Katsitadze got this bonus because of her sex.

Council said that at no point does the video include the idea directly or indirectly that Natia Katsitadze got the bonus because of her gender. The media company that shared the video [Studio Monitori] deleted the comments which had derogatory phrases. As to what other people say when sharing the product on their page, journalists cannot be held responsible about that.

According to the principle 11 of the Charter: “Journalist has to consider following acts as a severe professional crime: deliberate distortion of facts”. As the violation of principle 1 was not proven, principle 11 was could not have been violated either.

Video about  car purchase by vice public defender Natia Katsitadze’s driver

According to the first principle of the Charter: “Journalist must respect truth and public’s right to get correct information”.

2. The applicant also mentioned the text accompanying the video: “Studio Monitori discovered that vice public defender Natia Katsitadze’s driver, Nikoloz Baliashvili, also has a second car Hyundai Tucson. Studio Monitori told you about 105 000 GEL car Mercedes –Benz GLA which public defender bought”.

The applicant said that this text and the video left the impression that Nikoloz Baliashvili had the second car because of being a driver of Natia Katsitadze. The applicant could not say what exactly was wrong about this statement so the violation of the first principle [incorrect or unproven information dissemination] was not proven.

Resolution:

According to the information above:
  • Giorgi Mgeladze did not violate principles 1, 7 and 11.