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Media Discussion “Trust in Media: More Voice and Less Noise”

March 28 – Internews, U-Media, hosted the media discussion “Trust in Media: More Voice and Less Noise” focused on journalists’ professionalism, trust in media, and self-regulation issues. The event took place in Kyiv, Schastya-HUB, 14-A, Pankivska St. This discussion was a follow- up of the National Media Talk that Internews, hosted in November 2017 in Kyiv. Forty-two journalists, media workers, representatives of media and civil society organizations discussed whether there are links between trust and quality of media content, what the roles of traditional and social media in conducting public dialogue are, how media can help improve public and political discourse in Ukraine, the relationship between the authorities and the media, and how journalists can cooperate to sustain a healthy media system in Ukraine.

Taras Petriv, President of Suspilnist Foundation, member of the Independent Media Council, and Associate Professor at the Institute of Journalism, National Taras Shevchenko University, moderated the discussion.

Panelists were:

Natalia Ligachova, Chairwoman, Detector Media

Yulia Mostova, Editor-in-Chief, The Mirror Weekly newspaper

Oleksandr Bohutskiy, President, ICTV

Roman Vintoniv, Board Member of the National Public Service Broadcasting Company

Speakers’ highlights:

Natalia Ligachova’s message concerning professional ethics within contradictory information war period was that journalists should deliver truth to the audience; however, every journalist should make one’s own choice whether to demonstrate severe or contradictory facts to the general public. Ligachova expressed her positive attitude towards constructive journalism which provides the audience with solutions for challenging issues and makes the entire media environment less tense in a time of war. In terms of self-regulation mechanisms, Ligachova raised the issue of the current crisis at the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine and encouraged the media community to launch a discussion about a new professional organization uniting journalists.

Yulia Mostova emphasized the crucial role of the contemporary media community to help Ukraine to break though within the challenging time of global transformations. Yulia used a metaphor comparing contemporary media with human brain cells which take on them neighbouring cells’ functions in case a human suffers a stroke. One of her key messages was about journalists’ professionalism and dedication to their mission in society, instead of publishing paid media stories with the purpose to meet their own overcome economic difficulties.

When talking about the influence of traditional and social media on public opinion, Yulia voiced a concern that those focused on Facebook are far from reality, arguing with friends in virtual reality on the topics which a small group of the citizenry is aware of. Mostova’s reaction on the crisis within the National Journalists’ Union was that a new media self-regulatory organization should be created by managers for journalists, instead of by journalists on their own. The reason for that was that the real nature of each journalist is ego-centrism that prevents from voluntarily uniting with others.

Olexandr Bohutskiy reiterated that television is a major source of information for most Ukrainians and demonstrated ratings/shares of over twenty national television channels in Ukraine. Bohutskiy referred to non-transparency of ownership in TV but said most oligarch owners do not intend to have an obvious negative influence on the station’s content. Olexandr shared his thought that Ukraine now needs Ukrainian-made television content, movies and documentaries, in particular. He also emphasized the importance of the public broadcaster for Ukraine and encouraged cultivating communication between citizens and this broadcaster, reminding those in attendance that PSB exists mostly at the expense of Ukrainian taxpayers.

Roman Vintoniv made a presentation explaining the communication structure between media and media consumers in societies with a low level or absence of trust beyond small family units. Roman’s message was that truth in media, instead of paid stories and manipulations, helps build trust. At the same time, absence of trust leads to disintegration of social groups and society as a whole.