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On 3 September 2014, in terms of FactCheck’s

new Check Your Fact service, our reader, Luka Tsiskarishvili, addressed us about the issue of media coverage of murder cases. Specifically, he asked us to verify the accuracy of the statement of the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Levan Izoria.

On 3 September 2014, at the Ministry of Internal Affairs briefing, Levan Izoria stated: “I would like to inform you that all of the murder cases are solved. One and another thing I would like to say to the public is that there are no reasons to think that the crime situation in Georgia has worsened. To illustrate this, I will call on the statistics – August 2011, unfortunately, saw the exact same number of murders (11) that we had in August 2014. Hence, we can say with a high level of certainty that in the past, these murders rarely received media coverage. Nowadays, almost all of the murder cases are covered by the media. In addition, our Public Relations Department is very active and provides the public with necessary information. Our media service will resume this practice in the future as well.”

FactCheck

decided to analyse the actual changes in the media coverage of murder cases as compared to 2011.

FactCheck wrote

about the statistics of media coverage of murder cases earlier in the year as well. This particular statement of Mr Izoria concerns the statistics of August 2011 and 2014.

In order to verify the accuracy of Mr Izoria’s statement and check the number of murders covered by the mass media, FactCheck

used a media monitoring service and looked up all of the news connected to murder in August 2011. We found that seven murder cases were covered by the media in the given period. After this, we also looked into the crime statistics of 2011, published by the National Statistics Office of Georgia. This was the body publishing the crimes registered in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia in 2011. According to these data, 12 murder cases were registered in August 2011 which is one more than the number stated by the Deputy Minister. In total, 58% of the crimes registered by the Ministry received media coverage.

We looked up all of the news connected to murder for August 2014 as well. According to our research, six cases of murder were covered by the media in August 2014. According to the statistics published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, there were ten cases of premeditated murder and one case of premeditated murder in aggravating circumstances in August 2014. The total number of murders in the given month equalled 11 which is in accordance with Levan Izoria’s statement. In total, 55% of the 11 murders were covered by the media in August 2014.

Conclusion

According to the statement of the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Levan Izoria, the number of murders in August 2011 and August 2014 were similar. There was in fact almost the same number of murders in these periods of time.

As for the second part of the statement, the Deputy Minister stated that nowadays more murders receive media coverage than in 2011. He said that in the past the murder cases were rarely covered by television programmes whilst today almost all are shown on TV. In this case, Levan Izoria is wrong. Our study found that 58% of murders were covered in August 2011 whilst only 55% were covered in the same period of 2014. As we can see, the percentage of murders covered by the media was slightly higher in 2011 than in 2014.

It should be pointed out, however, that FactCheck did not analyse the intensity, time and specificity of media coverage. This kind of detailed study would, of course, provide more reliable information. However, in the given case, Levan Izoria’s statement focused upon the percentage of the media coverage which is exactly the issue into which FactCheck looked. It should also be noted that the representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs have made similar statements quite often. FactCheck

contacted the Ministry, asking if any kind of research had been conducted on the subject. Despite numerous attempts, we were unable to get information from the Ministry.

FactCheck concludes that Levan Izoria’s statement: “August 2011, unfortunately, saw the exact same number of murders (11) that we had in August 2014… In the past, these murders rarely received media coverage. Nowadays, almost all of the murder cases are covered by the media,” is HALF TRUE.

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