For some time now I have subscribed to Media.ge out of Georgia — the country, not the U.S. state.
The site provides an interesting look at the growth of free media in a country that was once part of the Soviet Union.
Now Media.ge is beginning to get some extra publicity: Media.ge – Unique Web Site about Georgian Media
Georgia has clearly done much better than many of the other former Soviet states. One can hardly say Uzbekistan has free media.
According to Freedom House, Georgia is ranked as “Partly Free.”
The constitution and the Law on Freedom of Speech and Expression guarantee press freedom, but these rights are often restricted. In 2008, the government increased its control over the media and showed a reduced willingness to adhere to the progressive legislation it had adopted in recent years. Despite a rule that allowed the parliamentary opposition to nominate a member to the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC), the panel remained subject to government influence.
The Media.ge web site is a good way for an outsider to have a peek at the struggling media situation in that country. Funding comes from a variety of sources, for Americans, we can be proud that some of our tax dollars go to support this operation. Some money comes straight form the U.S. embassy in Georgia and other funds come from the National Endowment for Democracy.
(For me, the NED is a spectacular and underrated government operation. Love or hate Ronald Reagan, he created the NED and gave it the support necessary to survive. Even put a former social democrat in charge.)
Back to Media.ge.
It was through a report on Media.ge that many in the non-intelligence community first got reports of how the Russians used a form of cyber-warfare against Georgia back in 2008. (And that is why so many of us were not surprised when cyber-warfare became a topic of discussion after the China-Google dust up. We were just wondering what took the rest of the world so long to recognize the situation.)
Sometimes the topics covered in Media.ge are ultra-parochial and difficult for the non-Georgian experts to follow. But most of the time the issues are the same we all face. It is well worth a visit.