Media monitoring and regulation

“Destatization”, or privatization, of Ukrainian media organizations; covering ongoing internal political and governance issues; and, the information battle with Russia are priority challenges for the Ukrainian news media.  As part of our U-Media program, to be able to track and meet those challenges, while ensuring the highest professional standards, we at Internews work with partners to monitor media and the organizations it covers.  Developing internal and external regulations  in a democratic context is also a priority.

Highlights

  • In the fall of 2015, one of our long-standing partners Internews-Ukraine publicized monitoring results for three Ukrainian Ministries’ websites – the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Science – for transparency and user convenience. The Ministry of Internal Affairs website was found to be most problematic because it does not contain enough useful, relevant content for Ukrainian citizens. The Ministry of Education and Science website was judged by Internews Ukraine as best adapted to citizen needs.

  • On November 3, 2015, Internews-Ukraine partners Telekritika (Detector Media), the Academy of Ukrainian Press, the Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy and the Institute of Mass Information presented media monitoring results for the October 2015 local government elections in a joint news conference. Results revealed jeansa, the Ukrainian language term for paid advertising disguised as journalism, does exist among many news organizations covering the local campaigns.

  • To encourage voters to identify jeansa in print, the Institute of Mass Information (IMI) conducted a “Catch Jeansa” contest. Voters from 22 regions sent 1,335 examples of jeansa to IMI experts. Forty-two journalists produced stories investigating alleged jeansa based on voter information.

    IMI’s independent jury recognized Odesa-based journalist Mariya Genyk for her story, “A Holiday is Coming: A Review of the Election Jeansa at Odesa Websites.” Ms. Genyk reported how political candidates distribute “gifts” to voters on the eve of elections and how local media reported on candidates.

    IMI developed a guideline tool, "Journalists and Local Elections 2015" which is available on the IMI website and as an Android app.

  • The Independent Association of Broadcasters (IAB) initiated discussion on a broadcast strategy for Eastern Ukraine with the Anti-Crisis Media Center during the “Broadcast Strategy for Donbas” conference. The conference was attended by journalists, public policy analysts, journalists, editors and representatives of Ukraine’s military and the Defense Ministry. The conference was a platform for discussion of crucial issues like news media cooperation with the military, general media access in the Donbas, communication between the armed forces and local governing authorities and identifying and combating Russian disinformation. One of the conference’s accomplishments was a decision to issue an order for military commanders in conflict zones to update journalists on events and developments affecting the local population.

  • IAB’s activities elected members to the Supervisory Board of the National Public Broadcasting Company. IAB’s work contributed to timely, transparent approval of the Supervisory Board on December 15, 2015. The Board consists of representatives from public organizations, professional associations and Verkhovna Rada political party factions.

  • On February 18, 2016, the RPR-Media Group of the Reanimation Package of Reforms and the Independent Media Council – consisting of Internews Ukraine, the Institute of Mass Information, the Media Law Institute, the Institute of Regional Press Development, Telekritika (Detector Media) and the Suspilnist Foundation – published a statement expressing concern about an attempt by state-owned Ukrtelefilm (Ukraine Cinema) to block public broadcasting reform. RPR Media Group members criticized Ukrtelefilm, which refused document access to the National Television Company’s reorganization commission. The Verkhovna Rada Committee for Freedom of Speech and Information considered this impasse and appealed to the Prosecutor General and the Ministry of Interior, requesting an explanation of Ukrtelefilm’s document stonewalling.

  • In February 2016, Telekritika (Detector Media) launched a new portal. Detector Media will continue to serve as a Ukrainian media watchdog and provide information to the website on media’s role in society. In total, 856 stories were uploaded to the website, including 144 analytical stories, 12 interviews and 700 news stories. On average, the website is viewed by 210,000 people per month.

    Detector Media monitored national TV channels and distributed reports on the quality of TV reporting. Its report on national TV news content covered the following channels: UA: Pershy, ICTV, 1+1, Ukraina, Inter, Channel 5 and STB. Detector Media monitored Russian TV channels Channel 1, NTV, Russia, Life News and Zvezda (Star) to reveal fake stories, news distortion and propaganda. Experts prepared three reports published for the Mediasapiens website designed to assist Ukrainian journalists in detecting false information.

  • The Institute of Mass Information (IMI) published its “Barometer of Freedom of Speech” report for the first half of 2016. IMI analysts registered 129 freedom-of-speech violations in Ukraine, compared to 143 cases for the same period in 2015. Forty-five cases were situations where public officials blocked journalists from doing their work. IMI monitoring revealed 23 physical attacks and an equal number of threats to journalists.

  • In its regular monitoring of national television channels, the Academy of Ukrainian Press (AUP) noted Ukrainian TV channels are still reluctant to engage in balanced reporting. During the monitoring period, only 12 percent of news segments presented two or more points of view. The AUP found many channels reflect their owners’ point of view when commenting on public affairs and politics. AUP conducted monitoring in cooperation with research fellows from the Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

  • In March 2016, the Ternopil Press Club launched its "Destatization Reform in Ternopil Region" project by publishing an overview of destatization laws, including legal evaluations and descriptions of stakeholder roles and responsibilities in destatization reform. Four publications were posted on the organization’s website addressing destatization. The club organized a seminar for regional newspaper editors and local government authorities where participants were acquainted with a schedule for implementing the destatization law and its regulations.

  • In their latest media monitoring report in May, the Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy noted an increase in the practice of jeansa – the Ukrainian-language term for disguising advertising as editorial journalism – and improperly marked advertising in 64 regional publications monitored in eight Ukrainian regions. Just over 28 percent of print media engaged in jeansa and 24.6 percent of online publications published jeansa. Much of the jeansa originates from political parties, according to the Institute.