Media Program in Ukraine
The new USAID-funded Media Program in Ukraine works to empower local media to expand Ukrainian citizens’ access to high-quality news and information. This project, implemented by Internews from 2018-2023, is the largest media development activity in Ukraine’s history, and represents a significant US$35m investment in Ukraine’s independent media sector.
The last four years have seen a raft of important media reforms in the realms of access to information, transparency of media ownership and public service broadcasting. The Media Program supports Ukrainian organizations in their efforts to successfully implement these reforms, increase the availability of high quality media content, improve media self-regulation and ultimately help media provide citizens with the information they need to be resilient against malign influence, strengthening efforts towards European integration.
- Support for public broadcasting company UA:Pershiy and local affiliates
- Increasing and improving content production on reforms
- Improving elections coverage
- Strengthening professional development and cross-regional linkages
- Supporting investigative journalism
- Providing legal assistance to journalists on access to information
- Streamlining media literacy efforts
- Expanding media monitoring efforts
- Strengthening and expanding media partnerships and coalitions
The new Media Program targets its efforts on:
- media managers
- media outlets
- media support organizations
- officials working on reforms
The Media Program in Ukraine is a nationwide initiative that has a particular focus on media assistance in the East (Donetsk, Luhansk) and South (Kherson, Mykolayiv, and Odesa).
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It also explores new partnerships and coalitions with:
- IT professionals
- social entrepreneurs
- private sector representatives
- creative communities
Grants for Ukrainian organizations:The Media Program provides extensive grant support to Ukrainian organizations to enable them to carry out the following activities:
Engaging content production for TV, radio, online, or print media, with targeted support for content creators focusing on the East and South.
Election-related activities including the production of balanced content that fosters public debate on policy issues, voter education, legal assistance for journalists covering elections, and training in how to cover elections in ways that build public confidence in the process.
Media monitoring to assess the quality and impartiality of media coverage as well as covert attempts to manipulate public opinion.
Production of hard-hitting investigative stories and data journalism projects
Advocacy to expand media literacy more broadly into the national school curriculum, including at primary school level, and teacher training, especially in the East and South, to increase schools’ use of media literacy modules.
Support for local groups to roll out media literacy events at all education levels, particularly in the East and South.
Support for local initiatives that create feedback mechanisms for audiences to report false stories, media manipulation, or other professional violations to media outlets or media watchdogs.
Program results so far
Program results highlights
· With USAID-Internews Media Program in Ukraine’s support, Ukraine’s national public broadcaster continued to produce its acclaimed weekly show Countdown, which highlighted current issues such as the coronavirus (including vaccination and the healthcare system’s response to the pandemic), Ukraine’s economic reforms, crises caused by the Constitutional Court, disputes over high utility payments, healthcare reform, developments regarding a media holding of Viktor Medvedchuk, pension reform, the anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy, developments in Belarus, land market reform, Ukraine’s NATO membership, and conflict escalation risks.
The documentary film “Power of Fate,” produced by Internews partner Espreso TV, received two awards at the 2021 Fusion International Film Festivals: West Europe in Brussels. The film won awards in the Best Short Documentary category and the New Talented Filmmaker category at an awards ceremony held on August 21. The film draws attention to the consequences of the lack of vaccination for children, which is especially important in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Regional media journalists attended RPDI’s School for Regional Investigative Reporters and participants published 18 investigative reports as a follow up. The investigation “The best for children: how Odesa servants of Themis received elite housing” analyzed the decisions of judges of the Fifth Administrative Court of Appeal for Odesa, Kherson and Mykolaiv regions and the bribes they accepted to make those rulings. As a result, a Court of Appeals judge was dismissed in February 2021 by a decision of the High Council of Justice for his corrupt conduct. In February 2021, RPDI held a mini-scholarships competition called “(Not) such cases” for local and hyperlocal media to conduct and publish journalistic investigations. After Yevhenia Yehoshyna from RFE/RL’s Schemes program published the investigative story “The secret of the Baryshivka court,” two judges were dismissed. The Third Disciplinary Chamber of the High Council of Justice fired a Baryshivka District Court Judge and dismissed a Baryshivsky District Court judge whose violations were covered in the journalist’s reporting.
IMI conducted five three-day trainings on tactical first-aid, working on the frontline, and journalism ethics for 100 journalists (40 journalists from Kyiv and 60 from the Southeastern regions; 54% women, 46% men). The training agenda was designed to meet the needs of media community as identified through the IMI online survey of media workers regarding their preparedness to work on the frontline in the event of an escalation of the conflict in the East of Ukraine. IMI also made bulletproof vests and helmets available to the journalists who report from the frontline by setting up a bank of protective equipment for free rental.
Twelve media interns who participated in two Media Mobility Hub sessions in July and August 2021 received job offers at the end of their newsroom internships. Fifteen alumni from the Media Mobility Hubs held since the beginning of Media Program in Ukraine continue to work with leading media.
· On August 23, 2021, the government of Ukraine launched Crimea Platform, a new international consultation and coordination format set up to increase the effectiveness of the international response to the ongoing occupation of Crimea. Information and Press Center became part of the Platform’s Expert Network and will play a role in shaping state policy on the de-occupation of Crimea and the reintegration of its residents into Ukrainian society.
Advocacy for the law “On Media” was a priority for partners working on the implementation of key media reforms (CEDEM, NAM, DM, and IMI). This law outlines crucial changes to the media sector to bring it into line with the EU directive on audiovisual services. It consolidates the basic principles for regulating the media sphere into one document, updating registration and licensing systems, introducing the concept of community media and media co-regulation mechanisms, and enhancing the role of the regulator.
Payroll grading introduces a combination of logical job groupings and corresponding compensation levels. Every grade is assigned a payment plan that reflects a connection between the responsibilities of the job and the value of the work performed, setting basic compensation levels according to the company’s strategy. In December 2020, UA:PBC approved new terms and remuneration amounts for employees. As of May 2021, 1,473 employees in the central directorate and 1,430 employees in the UA:PBC regional branches received payments that were 13-33% higher than previously due to the payroll grading structure.
Through trainings and by leveraging its reputation in the field, TOM14 continued strengthening and expanding its Point People Platform network of 200 regional lawyers to increase media practitioners’ access to legal aid and protection. The key issues on which the lawyers assisted journalists were fighting against corruption and illegal actions by local officials. A number of court cases were launched to ensure access to official information that could lead to the prevention of corruption in state procurement.
In June 2021, IMI sent a list of 70 instances of violations of journalists’ rights to the Office of Prosecutor General. The Deputy head of the Prosecutor General said the Office will prioritize the investigation of these instances, including those in the regions. In September 2021, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Prosecutor General, the Institute of Mass Media, Detector Media, the Regional Press Development Institute, the Crimean Human Rights Group, the Human Rights Platform and the ZMINA Human Rights Center. The memorandum defines a common vision for improving the protection of journalists, assistance in monitoring violations of the legal rights and interests of journalists, ensuring transparency of the prosecutor’s office, and bringing perpetrators of violent attacks on journalists to justice.
Liga.net developed and implemented a strategy to convene a community of readers by ensuring stable financial support via a donation and subscription system. In July 2021, Liga.net’s monthly donations reached 307,537 hryvnia (US $11,400), the largest amount from the start of the project in fall 2020. Another positive indicator is the number of Patreon donors, which increased from 68 in October 2020 to 177 in September 2021.
At the start of Media Program in Ukraine, Internews worked with the Institute of Mass Information (IMI) to develop the Whitelist Initiative. IMI monitors quality and standards of 50 online media and includes the most ethical in a Whitelist, which is promoted to advertisers as a safe place to showcase their brands and products. In February 2021, IMI published a list of eight media outlets that meet this quality standard: Hromadske.ua, Liga.net, Ukrainska Pravda, Ukrinform, RFE/RL, Weekly Mirror, Bykvu.com, and Suspilne.media). Following publication of the latest list, IMI was approached by the editor of leading Ukrainian online media outlet NV.ua, who requested an audit of its content and advice on how to adopt editorial policies that would improve its chances of inclusion on the Whitelist, demonstrating the list’s ability to put positive pressure on media outlets to improve their standards.
How can my organization or media outlet cooperate with the Media Program in Ukraine?
We regularly invite Ukrainian media organizations, media outlets and other players in the media field to submit project proposals to our grants competitions. Please, subscribe to our news and updates.
What expenses do we need to show in budget proposal?
The budget should describe major expense categories that show clear cost-effectiveness. Using our Excel budget template, you should indicate all relative expenses that you believe will help you achieve your project’s goals
Do we need to submit proposals in two languages?
All proposals should be submitted in both, English and Ukrainian. Please, follow our grant proposal writing instructions.
Do we need to scan, print and send our project proposals by post?
No, you don’t need to do this as all our proposals and budgets should be received as Word and Excel documents via email.
Can I be added to your mail-list?
Please, drop us a line to UA-MPU@internews.org to stay informed on our program’s news and cooperation opportunities.