Georgia Parliament Members in meeting with Dr. Charles Davis, dean of Grady College, and Dr. Tudor Vlad, director of the Cox International Center.

Members Of Georgian Parliament At Grady College

“We are living in an era of dramatic changes in the media industry, in an unprecedented rhythm, and we want our journalism and mass communication curriculum not only to reflect those changes, but to anticipate them, if possible,” Dr. Charles Davis, dean of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, told a group of five members of the Parliament of the country of Georgia. “We have merged what used to be the Journalism Department and the Telecommunications Department and we have created a new Entertainment and Media Arts program. It has been a significant effort from the part of our faculty and administration, but we owe this to our students.”

The visitors were in the state of Georgia through the USAID Good Governance Initiative, and their program in Athens was organized by the International Center of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia. The Cox International Center is an outreach unit of the Grady College.

Dr. Tudor Vlad, director of the Cox International Center, said that the Center had conducted many programs on the relationship between government and media. “The challenges of this relationship are relatively similar in most of the countries, even if we examine it in consolidated democracies: there is a level of distrust, of suspicion, sometimes of conflict. In emerging democracies, corruption in the government or bias in the media add even more tension. People need to understand that independent media are beneficial to honest politicians, and transparent governance is beneficial both to public servants and to the citizenry.”

The guests had questions about the use of social media by U.S. politicians and about media coverage of the most recent presidential elections. Dean Davis addressed some of those issues, saying that social media brings both positive and negative new dimensions in the dialog between politicians and citizens, but they are a tool that cannot be ignored by any party.

“Our current president was very efficient in using Twitter in the campaign,” said Dr. Davis. “Now, it is a different story: some of the recent tweets have not been so helpful and have created unnecessary tension in Washington.”

The five guests were: Khatuna Uznadze, Head of the Chancellery for the Georgian Parliament;  David Churadze, Head of Finance for the Georgian Parliament, Nikoloz Natenadze, Chief of Staff for the Georgian Parliament, Salome Samadashvili, Member of Parliament; and Otar Kakhidze, Member of Parliament. They were accompanied by Nino Vardosanidze, senior legislative and oversight manager, USAID Good Governance Initiative (GGI) in Georgia.