Institute of Mass Information Analyzes Media Coverage of Reform
July 26 – The Institute of Mass Information (IMI) observed and recorded the Ukrainian online news media’s coverage of the country’s reform. In May, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted a draft package of pension reforms proposed by Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman, and the national media is focusing on it as a key reform element.
During the IMI observation period in May, the media reported on three areas of reform: pensions (84 percent of reform coverage), land reform (eight percent), and health care reform (four percent). Other reforms, such as railway and housing and communal services made up just two percent of media reform coverage.
IMI monitoring noted most pension reform coverage was posted on the Ukrainska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth) online site under the “Columns” heading and was interpretative and reflective in nature. The coverage tended to be negative toward reform and often pointed out its disadvantages. “Reform under Pressure” and “Pension Reform: A Bulldog and a Rhino” are two headlines that capture the nature of much of the online coverage of Ukrainian reform during the monitoring period.
The IMI monitoring found that many Ukrainian politicians used the reform coverage to promote themselves through the use of “jeansa,” or pre-paid news coverage. On the Obosrevatel (Observer) website in the story “Lyashko on Pension Reform by the Government: This is an Undeclared War against Ukrainians,” Radical Party leader Oleh Lyashko described reform as an undeclared war against Ukrainians. Other websites emphasized the Opposition Bloc’s refusal to vote for reform in the Verkhovna Rada. The story, “Oppositional Block will Vote against Pension Reform” on Interfax is an example.
However, IMI monitors noted the state-owned Ukrinform information agency highlighted reform objectively or even covered it in a positive light. An example of this type of coverage was an explanatory interview about overall reform with Stepan Kubiv, first deputy prime minister and minister of economic development and trade, who emphasized the need for reform. “First of all, pension reform should create conditions for a person who works and has due wages now and due pension afterwards,” Kubiv was quoted as saying. In another story on Ukrinform, chairman of the council of the National Bank Bohdan Danylyshyn expressed his support for land reform. “Land reform can be an impetus to attract investments,” he said.
Health care reform was covered, but not extensively online, according to the IMI monitors. The tone of it could be considered negative, such as a story from Strata.com (Country.com) which asked, “What does the acting Minister Ulyana Suprun’s health care reform mean for the country and people?” The journalist wrote that health care reform is controversial and painful for society.
On the other side of health care reform, Ukrainska Pravda and Cenzor.net supported Minister Suprun. The Cenzor.net coverage used the Ministry’s infographics to support reform and pointed out there are representatives in the Ukrainian health sector who are trying to discredit reform and the existence of a “pharmaceutical mafia.”
IMI’s media monitors report the Ukrainian media is generally performing well in holding elected officials accountable with questions and criticism. IMI says the Ukrainian media should base its coverage more on facts and professional analysis, rather than on the opinions and attitudes of individual journalists or news organization owners.
Read more on the Institute of Mass Information’s website in Ukrainian.