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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05TBILISI2937 2005-11-10 03:24 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tbilisi

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

E.O.12958: N/A 
1. SUMMARY: Georgian media gave intensive coverage to 
Hurricane Katrina in prime time newscasts and lead newspaper 
stories. However, the coverage was based on   international 
wire and news agency reports, such as AP and Reuters.  The 
exceptions were Rustavi-2 and Imedi TV. Both television 
stations sent special, top-flight crews to New Orleans. 
Rustavi-2's David Nikuradze and Imedi's Dachi Grezelishvili 
reported live from the disaster zone the week of September 
19. On September 25, the television stations aired stories 
prepared by David and Dachi on widely-watched prime time 
Sunday night shows: Sunday Courier (Rustavi-2) and Droeba 
(Imedi). Both reports, as well as the crews' collective 
coverage of the hurricane, were full of compassion and 
understanding.  Individual interviews with victims put a 
human face on the Hurricane's devastation and left Georgian 
viewers saddened. At the same time, victims' stamina and 
determination to rebuild New Orleans were encouraging. Both 
reporters thanked the Joint Information Center for Hurricane 
Katrina in Baton Rouge, as well as the Embassy's Public 
Affairs Section for supporting them in their coverage of 
hurricane-affected Louisiana. End Summary. 
2. Rustavi-2: On September 25, Rustavi-2's weekly analytical 
show Sunday Courier featured David Nikuradze's story shot in 
Louisiana. The piece used graphics prepared by FEMA to show 
Katrina's trajectory and how the storm crossed the most 
densely populated areas. "As the rescuers say, Katrina, as 
if on purpose, circumvented nonresidential areas to storm 
the places where people lived," said David. He interviewed 
rescuers working in New Orleans to give a full picture of 
the disaster.  After giving background on New Orleans, its 
jazz traditions and economic significance for the country, 
David focused on future rehabilitation plans: "Post Katrina 
New Orleans is in great need of rehabilitation that will 
take a lot of time and resources.  However, nothing can 
compensate for the incurred loss.  People find it hard to 
understand what has caused such a great deal of casualties. 
.People of Louisiana are wondering why the American system 
failed to handle this tragedy." He also gave credit to the 
performance of FEMA and rescue workers: "American soldiers 
are protecting these areas by blocking access to the flooded 
houses.  They are also trying to save the city from 
looting."  David Nikuradze expressed his appreciation for 
the Joint Information Center for Hurricane Katrina in Baton 
Rouge for supporting his work. 
3. Imedi:  On September 25, Imedi's weekly analytical Sunday 
night show "Droeba' (Times) aired Dachi Grdzelishvili's 
piece on Hurricane Katrina. Dachi compared the post - 
hurricane scene of New Orleans to that of a horror movie. 
Following a comprehensive account of the city's history, 
Dachi concluded by saying: "Despite the general pessimism, 
there are people in Louisiana who do not give up on living 
in New Orleans.  After the sea level subsided, some people 
started to fix their houses and started thinking of ways to 
run their businesses again. .Unfortunately, Hurricane Rita 
did not leave much hope for optimism. The dam collapsed and 
the city was flooded once again.  People in America now talk 
openly about the inexpediency of building cities on the 
ocean coasts below sea level.  When people refuse to learn 
from the books, nature gives its own lessons." 
4. Dachi Grdzelishvili sent a letter of appreciation to Post 
for assisting him with his trip. An excerpt from the letter: 
"The Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi 
put us in touch with Gregory Franklin, Senior Advisor for TV 
broadcast at the U.S. Department of State, currently acting 
as media coordinator at the Joint Information Center for 
Hurricane Katrina.  It was a nice surprise for us that Mr. 
Franklin came to see us at the airport. From there, he 
escorted us to all of our shoots.  .On behalf of the Imedi 
crew and the entire Imedi operation, I would like to thank 
the Department of State, personally Mr. Franklin, and the 
U.S. Embassy for the support they've provided." 


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