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Discussion on Self-Regulation in the Media Sector on the Eve of Election Campaigning

September 17 Detector Media and the Institute of Mass Information (IMI) held a roundtable called “Self-Regulation and Journalistic Standards During Election Campaigns” at the Ukrinform information agency. More than 50 media specialists, journalists, and members of the Independent Media Council, Journalism Ethics Commission, Ministry of Information Policy, international organizations, and media NGOs attended. Keynote speakers included head of Detector Media Nataliya Ligachova, executive director of the IMI Oksana Romaniuk, director of Public Radio Andriy Kulikov, and Deputy Minister of Information Policy Dmytro Zolotukhin.

 “The pre-elections political run that has unofficially started in our country resembles the campaigns we saw back in 2004, when billboards carried maps divided into several parts of Ukraine. At the same time, Russian president Vladimir Putin gave interviews to Russian television channels on his visits to Kyiv. Today, we expect to see even a more active Russian influence on the elections in our country,” Ligachova said during her opening remarks.

The speakers said the main challenges facing Ukrainian media as the election cycle approaches are the dominance of political jeansa and journalists’ dependence on the editorial policies of media owners in times of financial instability.

Ligachova introduced a new handbook, “Media and Elections: Self-Regulation, Security, Laws,” at the event. It consists of four chapters and includes an overview of current legislation regulating how media should cover election campaigns, practical tips for reporting on political parties, and information on how to stay safe during election rallies. The handbook’s authors are Ihor Kulias (a Detector Media expert), Roman Holovenko (an IMI lawyer), and Iryna Zemliana (an IMI expert).

To best serve their audiences, key recommendations from presenters for the media community included self-regulation and co-regulation, increasing citizens’ media literacy, and consolidating independent media forces to stay away from manipulations and fakes.

“In our view, the main idea behind our event today is to unite journalists, media owners, and state regulating bodies in an effort to remind journalists about their responsibility in what and how they write and report on various political forces and candidates. We believe self-regulation, media literacy, and consolidation of all healthy journalist powers will help us avoid manipulations and serve our readers and viewers the best we can,” Romaniuk said.

The event was a valuable contribution to the nationwide discourse about the consolidation of honest professional journalists to fight against harmful external influences in Ukraine’s information environment during the pre-election period.