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Monday | 06 May, 2013

Freedom of Press in the South Caucasus

Freedom of press is one of the indicators of a free society (e.g., immunity of communications media from censorship or governmental control). Freedom House’s 2012 analysis of Freedom of Press found that only 14.5% of the world’s population live in countries with a free press, while 45% have a partly free press, and 40.5% live in an environment without a free press. As for the South Caucasus region, Georgia was classified as having a partly free press ranking 111 out of 197 countries, similar to Bangladesh, Kenya and Mauritania which were among countries classified as partly free. Both Armenia (rank 149) and Azerbaijan (rank 172) were classified as having a “not free” press. This blog discusses the changing situation with regard to media freedom in the South Caucasus, as well as perceptions of trust in the media. It also highlights a gap between media freedom and trust in media in the region.

The Freedom of Press survey was first conducted in 1980 and has annually assessed the level of media freedom and editorial independence worldwide ever since. Freedom House provides analytical reports for 197 countries and territories and assigns them with a total score from 0 (best) to 100 (worst). The score is composed of 23 methodological questions that are divided into three categories: legal, political and economic environment. Primary attention is given to the political environment for press circulation, referring to the ability to operate freely and without fear of persecution. The degree to which each country permits the free flow of news and information determines the classification of its media as “Free,” “Partly Free,” or “Not Free.” Countries scoring 0 to 30 are regarded as having a “Free” media, while scores of 31 to 60 indicate “Partly Free”, and 61 to 100 represents “Not Free”.

In 2012 Georgia was the only country to make significant improvement in the region of Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia – it moved from 55 to 52 points (out of 100). This was primarily due to the establishment of new publications, the issue of a broadcast license to a media group critical to the government (TV9), and enforced provisions for media ownership. However, a few deficiencies have remained. For instance, the Georgian National Communications Commission has been broadly reported to have limitations, delays in the access to information, and a lack of independence from political parties.

The report also identified Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan as countries of special concern in the region (i.e. not free). Freedom House’s country overview of Azerbaijan explains that journalists continue to be persecuted and imprisoned, authorities use economic and political pressure to maintain control over major media outlets, and the 2000 Law on Mass Media remains inoperative.

In Armenia, press freedom also remains restricted. The media environment remains controlled despite several amendments and legal protections that have been in place since the 2008 presidential election. In addition, close ties between government authorities and media owners encourage journalist self-censorship, particularly in the broadcast sector.

Freedom House data also allows us to follow its Freedom of Press index over time. According to the index, freedom of press has worsened (again, 0=best and 100=worst) in Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1994. Furthermore, while press freedom in Armenia has worsened from 1994 to 2009, there was a slight improvement from 2009 to 2012. The freedom of press index has fluctuated more in Azerbaijan, although it steadily deteriorated from 2004 to 2012. Georgia’s index sharply improved from 1994 to 2000, after which it worsened from 2000 to 2009, and began improving again from 2009 to 2012.



It is also difficult to find a direct link between changing freedom of press since 1994 and trust in the media. According to the Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey, the level of trust in the media has also varied in these countries from 2008 to 2012. The overall picture that emerges after combining results from the CB and the freedom of press index is interesting. Although the Freedom of Press index has slightly worsened from 2011 to 2011 in Azerbaijan, trust in the media during that period sharply increased. On the contrary, Georgian trust in the media has decreased since 2009 although the index of freedom of press improved. Thus, the freedom of press index does not directly tell us much about how much societies trust media. 




The South Caucasus has not yet achieved a completely free press. However, according to Freedom House, freedom of the press index is improving in Georgia, whereas the index is stable in Armenia and worsening in Azerbaijan. This blog discussed major criticisms about the press environment by Freedom House, as well as the interchanging level of trust in the media in the South Caucasus. You are invited to see the full 2012 Freedom House report and to find out more about trust in institutions using the CRRC Caucasus Barometer.



12.10.2015 | Monday

The development of Azerbaijani think tanks and their role in public policy discourse

[Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of blog posts co-published with On Think Tanks. The views expressed within this blog series are the authors alone, and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia.]

By Zaur Shiriyev

The development of local think tanks in Azerbaijan has taken a different route to that followed by most other post-Soviet states and Eastern European countries. In the Eastern Bloc countries, research institutes modeled on Western think tanks became increasingly popular following the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, in Azerbaijan this did not happen, largely due to domestic political developments in the early 1990s.
05.10.2015 | Monday

Think Tanks in Armenia: Who Needs their Thinking?

[Editor's note: This is the third in a series of blog posts co-published with On Think Tanks. The views expressed within this blog series are the authors alone, and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia.]

By Yevgenya Jenny Paturyan

Think tanks are considered to be an important part of civil society: providers and keepers of expertise on important social, economic, environmental, political and other issues. Organizations like Chatham House and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace come to mind. In addition to ‘pure’ think tanks, there is a plethora of organizations that combine research with advocacy and action, Transparency International being a prominent example.
29.09.2015 | Tuesday

The lay of the land: An interview with Hans Gutbrod on think tanks in the South Caucasus

[Editor's note: This is the second in a series of blog posts co-published with On Think Tanks. The views expressed within this blog series are the authors alone, and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia.]

Interview by Dustin Gilbreath

Dustin Gilbreath: You recently recently pointed out that think tanks in the South Caucasus have come a long way in recent years, but that they still face challenges on some of the fundamentals – quality of research, policy relevance, funding, and operational acumen.  At the national rather than regional level, what are the relative strengths of and challenges before the think tank sector of each country?
28.09.2015 | Monday

Thinking about think tanks in the South Caucasus

[Editor's note: This is the first in a series of blog posts co-published with On Think Tanks. The views expressed within this blog series are the authors alone, and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia]

By: Dustin Gilbreath

Starting from similarly troubled slates at the turn of independence, the South Caucasus countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia – have diverged over the last 25 years, and the region is an interesting case of divergence despite similarity. While in Azerbaijan the government is squeezing the last bit of free expression from the country, Georgia is having its problems but is by far the freest place in the region. Armenia still has space for engagement, but it is not as open as Georgia.
21.09.2015 | Monday

Online data analysis (ODA)


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14.09.2015 | Monday

The Georgian public on journalists

Over the last month, a number of scandals have emerged on the Georgian media landscape. On August 7th, Rustavi 2, a national television station often associated with the previously governing United National Movement (UNM), had its assets frozen in response to Kibar Khalvashi’s claim that he was wrongfully denied his ownership rights of the station during the UNM’s governance. More recently, cancellation of two political talk shows was announced on Imedi TV, another national station, owned by Badri Patarkatsishvili’s family.
07.09.2015 | Monday

The public on the conflicts in the South Caucasus

On July 18, 2015 thousands of Georgians gathered in Tbilisi protesting Russia’s “creeping occupation” as South Ossetia based Russian troops continue to draw the border along the Administrative Border Line between Georgia and the occupied territory of  South Ossetia. The unresolved territorial conflicts over South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Nagorno-Karabakh are major sources of instability in the South Caucasus. 
24.08.2015 | Monday

Internet and social media usage in Georgia

In April-May 2015, CRRC-Georgia carried out a representative survey of the adult population of Georgia for Transparency International Georgia. The survey contained a number of questions on Internet and social media usage, and the results show us who is online, what people are doing online, who is using social networks, and which networks people use most.
08.08.2015 | Saturday

What do CB interviewers’ ratings of respondents’ intelligence tell us?

CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) surveys regularly collect information about how the interviewers assess each of the conducted interviews – so called paradata that provides additional insight into the conditions surrounding the interviews (e.g., whether someone besides the respondent and the interviewer was present during the face-to-face interview), as well as interviewers’ subjective assessments of, for example, level of sincerity of the respondents.
15.06.2015 | Monday

Trust in institutions in the South Caucasus – generating a combined score

Trust in institutions is a widely studied subject in the social sciences – typing 'trust in institutions' into Google Scholar yields roughly 2.5 million results. It is generally believed to have multi-directional relationships with different aspects of social life, with high levels of trust associated with positive phenomena – acceptance of innovation and a good business environment just to name two. 
28.04.2014 | Monday

Trust in Institutions in the South Caucasus

Trust in institutions has often been thought of as negatively related to perceptions of corruption in political institutions. Every year, Transparency International publishes a Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) which ranks countries from highly corrupt to very clean.
28.05.2014 | Wednesday

Smoking in the South Caucasus and tobacco policy in Azerbaijan

May 31st is World No Tobacco Day as declared by the United Nations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco usage is the primary reason for chronic diseases including “cancer, lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases” among other diseases.
02.06.2014 | Monday

Finding a good job in Georgia

Data on employment and perceptions about work present an interesting lens on Georgia. This is especially true since the official unemployment rate is 15% according to Geostat in 2012, and 31% of the population is unemployed and seeking work in Georgia as of September 2013, according to the National Democratic Institute.
23.06.2014 | Monday

Trust in local government in Georgia

On June 15th Georgian voters headed to the polls in local elections. There were problems leading up to the elections as detailed in last week's electoral notes. At present, results show a significant portion of positions in local government going to Georgian Dream Coalition (GD) candidates, though a number of races will go into second rounds
21.07.2014 | Monday

Friends and Enemies in the South Caucasus

On 1 April, 2014 the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET) published a blog which described a future Transcaucasian Confederation agreement signed by the three South Caucasian states. Despite the fact that the blog was an April Fool’s Day joke, it provoked significant interest and reader response.
03.11.2014 | Monday

The recent history of the South Caucasus as seen by the world’s media – Part 1, Armenia and Azerbaijan

History has been a qualitative discipline and has often been considered part of the humanities, well, historically, but the emergence of big data is likely to extend the use of quantitative methods in historical research in the long run. Big data projects have aimed at everything from finding out where to pick fruit in your city to mapping the prevalence of AIDS in the United States, but a recent project, Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) has compiled a massive database of print media coverage in over 100 languages including Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian. Originally created by Kalev Leetaru and Philip Schrodt at Georgetown University, the GDELT database contains about a quarter of a billion uniquely coded units starting from 1979.
06.11.2014 | Thursday

The recent history of the South Caucasus as seen by the world’s media - Part 2, Georgia

In Monday's blog post, we looked at a snapshot of Armenia and Azerbaijan’s representation in the global media from 1979 to present. Today, we take a look at the third South Caucasus state, Georgia. What are the events that have popped up in Georgia and made international news over the last 35 years?
14.09.2016 | Wednesday

Trends in the Data: Changes in the level of trust in social and political institutions in Armenia

According to an earlier CRRC blog post, which looked at the changes in the level of trust in social and political institutions in Georgia from 2011 to 2015, trust in a fair number of institutions in Georgia declined. This post provides a comparable review of the situation in Armenia, using CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey data.
19.10.2015 | Monday

Do Think Tanks in Georgia Lobby for Foreign Powers?

[Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series of blog posts co-published with On Think Tanks. The views expressed within this blog series are the authors alone and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia.]

By Till Bruckner 

If you work on policy issues in a transition or developing country, you probably know the standard line on think tanks by heart. Local think tanks build domestic research capacity, improve policy formulation processes and outcomes, and enrich and enhance democratic debates, thereby contributing to the emergence of more democratic, wealthy, and equitable societies. (Yes, you may copy and paste this into your next fundraising proposal if you wish).
26.10.2015 | Monday

Common challenges, common solutions

[Editor's note: This is the sixth in a series of blog posts co-published with On Think Tanks. The views expressed within this blog series are the authors alone and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia.]

By Dustin Gilbreath 

So far, in this series think tankers working in the South Caucasus have reflected on the issues challenging their countries’ think tank sector. In many ways, some fundamental problems lie at the heart of the specific problems, and I think they can more or less be summed up as problems with language and audience; quality of research; funding; and transparency. This post takes a look at one of these challenges – language and audience – and considers some things that might nudge the region’s think tanks forward.
09.11.2015 | Monday

Household income and consumption patterns in Georgia

After the collapse of the Georgian economy in the 1990s, the country slowly started to recover, and between 2000 and 2014, the gross national income grew from $3.4 billion to $16.7 billion (in current USD). According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the official unemployment rate in Georgia was 12.4% in 2014, but according to numerous surveys the rate is much higher.
22.12.2015 | Tuesday

No, Putin is not winning Georgia away from Europe. Here are the facts.

[Editor's Note: This post was originally published on the Washington Post's Monkey Cage on Monday, December 21, 2015. The original post is available here. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC-Georgia or any of the sponsors of the survey which this article is based on. The data on which this article is based is available here.]

By Dustin Gilbreath

Last Friday, after years of diplomatic wrangling over the course of two administrations, the Republic of Georgia received a report from the EU green lighting visa free travel within the European Union in the near future. Yet, media accounts from earlier this year suggested that Georgia was undergoing a “Russian turn”.
07.07.2011 | Thursday

Carnegie Research Fellowship Program | Winners Announced

Six scholars from the South Caucasus have been selected to join a prestigious program administered by CRRC and the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research (NCEEER). Carnegie Research Fellowship Program (CRFP) offers local scholars in the social sciences non-degree research opportunities at universities and institutes in the United States.
27.07.2011 | Wednesday

Rule of Law in Georgia - Opinions and Attitudes of the Population

As a part of the Caucasus Barometer Report Writing Competition held by CRRC in the spring of 2011, we would like to present the second report (the first report was published recently) written by Salome Tsereteli-Stephen. The report deals with the rule of law in Georgia and here is a short summary of Salome’s findings and an analysis of the subject.
29.09.2011 | Thursday

Is the South Caucasus a homogenous region?

In a recent datablog, the Guardian published a map visualizing how the former Soviet countries are doing 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. The map compares the 15 former Soviet countries in terms of economic development, demographics and democratic transition. It also divides the countries into five regions: Russia, the Baltic countries, the EU borderlands, Central Asia and the South Caucasus.
14.10.2011 | Friday

Fancy Living Abroad? 39% of Young Armenians Say "Preferably Forever"

Last year, Ani Navasardyan asked, “Why do so many Armenians leave Armenia?” Migration is also an issue in Georgia and Azerbaijan. Data from the CB 2010 reveals that around half of the respondents in Georgia (47%) and Azerbaijan (52%) are interested in temporary migration. Still, Armenia stands out since 64% of the adult population is open to the idea of temporarily leaving the country.
25.05.2012 | Friday

Women in Parliament: How Do Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan Compare to Other Countries?

Expanding on the topic of a previous blog, this post compares statistics on the number of women in national parliaments in the South Caucasus and other areas of the world. The countries of the South Caucasus rank low on women’s participation in parliament compared to many other countries.
22.07.2010 | Thursday

Attitudes toward the West | Caucasus Analytical Digest

Following an article on Georgians’ attitudes toward Russia, CRRC Fellows Therese Svensson and Julia Hon have written a new piece for CAD, entitled “Attitudes toward the West in the South Caucasus”. Their article looks at citizens’ views on three areas of relations — political, economic and cultural — between the South Caucasus and the West, in particular NATO, the US and the EU. The data were derived from the South Caucasus–wide 2007 and 2008 Data Initiatives (DI), as well as from the 2009 EU survey that was conducted in Georgia.
05.11.2010 | Friday

Overcoming Negative Stereotypes in the South Caucasus

CRRC hosted a presentation on October 27 by Onnik Krikorian, a British journalist of part-Armenian descent and the Caucasus editor for Global Voices, entitled “Overcoming Negative Stereotypes in the Caucasus: New and Social Media in cross-border communication and conflict reporting.”
14.11.2010 | Sunday

The Media in Armenia and Azerbaijan: Effective or Affective?

Many academics argue that the influence of the media is especially strong in environments where citizens depend on a limited number of news sources. In contrast, when citizens have alternative sources of information they are less subject to the potential effects of media.
10.12.2010 | Friday

Policy Attitudes towards Women in Azerbaijan: Is Equality Part of the Agenda?

By Yuliya Aliyeva Gureyeva, Baku

The paper published in the 21st edition of the Caucasus Analytical Digest presents an account of how two competing policy approaches coexist in the policy attitudes towards women in Azerbaijan. 
22.07.2008 | Tuesday

Caucasus Data: Tolerance towards Others

The CRRC Data Initiative (DI) gives people an opportunity to do interesting cross-country comparisons of the South Caucasus (SC) people’s attitude toward their neighbors. This subject is quite sensitive and complex when thinking of the fact that the SC stands out for its sequence of ethnic conflicts.
30.07.2008 | Wednesday

Cuil for the Caucasus? A quick test!

As many of you may have heard, this week saw the launch of a competitor to Google. Cuil, which apparently is an old Irish word for knowledge, has been set up by several former Googlists and promises a search that's more oriented on content, and says it can do a more comprehensive job in the ever-expanding worldwide web.
17.09.2008 | Wednesday

What do Russians think about the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia? -- Data Snapshot

How do urban Russians view the conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia? From September, 5th-8th, 2008 the Analytical Center of Yuri Levada conducted a survey in ten big cities of the Russian Federation, interviewing 1000 Russian respondents. We have translated the results into English here, as they are only available in the original Russian on the Levada website.
23.10.2008 | Thursday

McCain vs Obama: Caucasus preferences


So here's something that we are a little puzzled about. The Economist is undertaking a poll to see which American Presidential candidate is favored by the world. In a very blue worldwide map, rooting for Obama, two noticeable yellowish spots, Macedonia and Georgia. McCain, of course, is popular in Georgia for having said "Today we all are Georgians" during the recent conflict.
13.11.2008 | Thursday

World Economic Forum Gender Gap Index | a few surprises

Indices are engaging and instructive, but some really baffle us. The World Economic Forum (WEF), the organisation that organises the annual high-profile Davos meetings, has come up with a gender index, and the Caucasus is featured. The index is intended to measure how the world is closing the gender gap in education, health, and political and economic participation. In principle, this is a great idea, since there are significant challenges and discrepancies (as our data itself shows).