On 15 September 2021, the Bishop of the Evangelic-Baptist Church, Rusudan Gotsiridze, posted her own opinion on the Facebook social networks. In her publication, Ms Gotsiridze responded to the discussion in social media about secret wiretapping. The Spacenews news agency took a distorted quote from this publication and published it as a headline of the article devoted to the publication.
Although Spacenews’ article includes Rusudan Gotsiridze’s Facebook publication in full and without alteration, the headline of the article distorts the context of her idea and misleads Facebook users.
On 15 September 2021, the Bishop of the Evangelic-Baptist Church, Rusudan Gotsiridze, posted her own opinion on the Facebook social network. In her publication, Ms Gotsiridze offered her comments on files leaked from the State Security Service as well as the ongoing public discussion about this controversy.
Rusudan Gotsiridze, in particular, stated: “To say ‘I have nothing to hide’ is from that playbook – ‘one should have such a sex not to be ashamed if it goes public.’
It is no one’s business with whom am I speaking or why would some official would be poking his nose into the private lives of my children? Why do we think that problems are ‘somebody’s sins’ which are shameful if they are brought into light??
If you are looking for Russia’s agents, adopt a lustration law. If you are not, this KGB ludicrousness means that the Soviet flag is hoisted over our country!!!!”
In this publication, Rusudan Gotsiridze speaks about the unacceptability of wiretapping and surveillance of private lives and states that no matter what your “sins” are, it is unacceptable that “some official” is poking into your private life.
Despite the clarity of her thoughts, Ms Gotsiridze edited the publication shortly after making it and added an additional explanation that she was simply quoting one of the public comments in the first part of her post. The added part of the Facebook publication reads: “I would like to say that whether or not you have got something to hide, it is nobody’s business to interfere in our private space without a relevant warrant and the necessary investigative needs and then listen and archive our conversations.”
Photograph: Rusudan Gotsiridze’s publication and time of edit.
The Spacenews article was posted on its website at 12:18 PM when Rusudan Gotsiridze had already made the additional clarification to rule out any different interpretations of her Facebook publication.
The aforementioned quote is taken out of context and put as a headline in such a manner that the reader is left with the impression that the quote actually belongs to Rusudan Gotsiridze.
According to modern media standards, a headline can be considered as a separate media product. The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethic made the following clarification on the case “Ana Gabelaia v Marta Labadze and Unidentified Journalists of Reportiori.ge, Kvira.ge and Digest.pia.ge (2018):” “Given the modern conditions and the forms for circulating information and, moreover, when it comes to online articles which can be shared through social networks, the headlines of articles are of paramount importance. Headlines of articles disseminated through social networks get the biggest load, particularly when the headline itself presents information in the affirmative. The Charter believes that in most cases the headline of an article should be considered as a separate journalistic product. The reader has an expectation and trusts that the article’s headline is a confirmed conclusion based on consolidated factual circumstances presented in the article and may decide it is unnecessary to read the full article in the hopes that he has already read the major finding of the article in its headline.”
Spacenews has used a similar manipulation vis-à-vis Vakho Sanaia’s Facebook publication (see FactCheck’s article). Another media outlet (Mega TV) also resorted to such manipulation in regard to Rusudan Gotsiridze’s Facebook publication.
The headline, as a separate media product which was taken out of context, aims to mislead readers and discredit the author of the statement.
Author - Malkhaz Rekhviashvili
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