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22 Aug, 2008 00:10

Is Georgia winning the media battle?

Several western newspapers claim that even though Georgia failed to win the battle for South Ossetia, it is still managing to win the media war. Georgia is relying heavily on foreign assistance in this war of words. RT met a British man who's working for

Patrick Worms is preparing for his next move against the Russians, but on his battlefield there's no blood or gunfire.
His soldiers work with the aroma of coffee and soft gentle music, but like a real general, he consults his map and his deputies.
Worms’ headquarters is in one of the finest hotels in Tbilisi.
From its lobby Worms plans his strategy – and the enemy is easy to identify – it's the Russians again.
“The first Gulf War was managed with these things – primitive mobile phones. The Afghan and Iraq wars were managed with blackberries. This war is managed using Skype. Chat systems generally, whether it's MSN chat, or Yahoo chat, or Google chat or Skype chat. These are the most effective tools for managing information,” media advisor Patrick Worms says.

Patrick’s troops are stationed throughout the world in the editing rooms of newspapers and television stations. His logistical support comes from the public relations agencies he's hired in Italy, Germany and the United States, but the main control is in Brussels.

Ask the average viewer in Europe and no-one knows who started the war, but they all agree the Russians are the bad guys. It's a battle Worms’ squad says it’s winning.

Worms will help you to decide who you're going to love more this week – Putin/Medvedev or Saakashvilli.
“We receive a lot of information that we're not giving out. And that is information that we either know to be factually correct, but that no independent source – either a journalist or an observer – can independently check out, or information which is on the basis of rumours,” says Worms.

The problem is that Worms’ truth comes only from one side.
Kim Sengupta from the Independent newspaper says Georgia’s PR machine has been effective.

“Overall it probably has been successful. I think their version of events is getting a wider hearing, if you like, than the Russian or South Ossetian side, certainly for the journalists based over here. And that is also the case with TV journalists, radio journalists, the ones who are doing 24-hour news,” Sengupta said.

Worms is a volunteer who says he's helping a friend in need to deal with the complex demands and workings of today's media and his input is as important as that of any soldier fighting on the ground.

“I’m helping them tell a story. I'm also helping them understand what the media needs in order to tell the story that needs to be told. And in that sense I suppose you could say that I am part of the machine that is fighting the Russian occupation,” Worms said.

In media wars, nobody is taken prisoner. You either win or lose.