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Donbas Media Forum: How to Move the Media Landscape from Populism to Factual Reporting

June 27-29The third Donbas Media Forum featured remarks from the chairman of the Board of the Donetsk Institute of Information, Oleksiy Matsuka, who addressed populist reporting in journalism.

“Donbas is becoming a field for political populism in journalism which negatively influences on media consumers in (a) crisis period,” Matsuka told Forum attendees and participants. “That is why (there is) so low level of trust to Ukrainian media … observed among local residents of Donbas.”

The Forum was organized in Sviatohirsk in the Donetsk Oblast by three media organizations — the Donetsk Institute of Information, Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy, and Donetsk Press Club. The Forum theme was “Donbas in Media: From Populism to Facts.” Internews supported the event.

Panel discussions were dedicated to a variety of topics including hate speech in the media, the status of independent journalism, international donor support for local media, journalism in conflicts, and developing productive relationships between government authorities and their communities.

Three Forum presentations addressed the media situation in Donbas:

• The Donetsk Institute of Information and the Media in Cooperation and Transition organization of Germany presented “Hate Speech in the Print Media of Donbas on Both Sides of the Frontline.”
• Internews-Ukraine presented the “Communicating Reforms in Ukraine” project.
• The Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy presented “Information Environment in Ukraine: The Fourth Year of War.”

Journalists at the Forum participated in workshops covering topics such as media standards in a populist era, political party pressure in a “post-truth era,” investigative reporting, psychological rehabilitation during and after work in crisis areas for journalists, copyright protection, and new digital technologies.

International organizations conducted events at the Forum. The European Union Delegation to Ukraine explained the EU’s institutions to participants, and Internews-Ukraine led a discussion titled “Free Internet in Ukraine?”

Jeta Xharra, founder of the Balkans Investigative Reporting Network, shared her experiences on conflict reporting with Forum attendees. She related the need to develop a “therapy” with media audiences through raising awareness of conflict by avoiding self-censorship and becoming familiar with factual details in a hostile environment.

More on the Donbas Media Forum blog in Ukrainian.