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IMI Surveys Journalists on How Often Their Stories are Killed by Media Owners

September 22 – The Institute of Mass Information conducted a survey to find out whether media owners interfere with newsroom editorial policies, and in particular, if the owners kill stories they don’t agree with. The survey was conducted between September 3 and 17, and was prompted by the decision of 30 online media outlets not to show news reports about MP Oleksandr Trukhin’s car accident.

On August 23, 2021, Trukhin, an MP with President Zelenskyi’s Servant of the People party, was involved in a car accident on Boryspil highway that injured six. Media reported that bribes were offered to media to remove their coverage of the accident.

The main takeaways from the survey results are the following:

  • 42% of respondents stated their editors had killed stories on orders from the media owners, or did not publish news on some subjects due to owner demands, while 58% stated they either don’t know about such precedents or that their editors had not dropped or refused to publish stories.
  • The most common reasons for killing a story were the decision of an editor-in-chief or an owner of the media outlet (29% of respondents named this); mistakes done while reporting the story (22% of respondents named this reason); offer of a bribe (14%); and pressure or lawsuit (12%). IMI highlighted that in case of mistakes media should not delete the story, but should apologize and publish corrections identifying the mistake and what exactly was corrected in a story.
  • 56% of respondents said owners of the media they work for do not interfere with their reporting; 23% stated owners influence political and business reporting; 13% said owners influence political reporting solely; 5% said they resist the pressure from owners; and the rest (3%) refused to answer the question.

Among 104 journalists and editors polled, 96 live in the regions of Ukraine and eight in Kyiv; 54 identified themselves as women and 50 as men. This survey was done with the support of the USAID Media Program in Ukraine run by Internews.

More on the website of the Institute of Mass Information in English.

Photo credit: IMI’s Facebook page