January 14th, 2011


The story from both sides of the Caucasus

The speed and ferocity of the conflict aside, one of the most striking aspects of Russia's war with Georgia in 2008, from a journalist's point of view, at least, was the massive media forces which the belligerents mobilized.  

As one of the correspondents covering developments in Moscow, this seemed to me such a significant departure that I later made a documentary about it for the BBC World Service.

Not content with working hard to get its message across on international tv news channels such as BBC World News and CNN, Georgia, as the Daily Telegraph reported this week, is planning to launch a Russian-language channel. Robert Parsons  - who is a former BBC colleague of mine - is launching the channel. He speaks excellent Russian, and  - a real rarity among non-Georgians - Georgian, and knows the region well.

I will look forward to writing more about this later, but, for now, I think there are two important points to be made from a the point of view of the study of international journalism.

Firstly, it demonstrates the increasing importance which countries put on getting their views across in the international media: think of the launches in recent years of France 24, and Russia Today, to name but two. Secondly, even though all these new channels have a web presence, their decision to launch principally as conventional satellite tv platforms shows just how important that medium continues to be  - especially in areas where good internet connections are scarce. 

Few people correctly predicted the 2008 conflict. It would be unwise - even in this time of falling audiences  - to predict the decline of tv as a news medium. There are a growing number of news organizations ready to do battle for tv viewers.