POID Reports on Regional Media Quality during Elections
May 14 – In April 2019, the Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy (POID) monitored destatized regional print media outlets and their websites in eight regions of Ukraine: Sumy, Poltava, Kherson, Chernihiv, Rivne, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil and Donetsk.
POID director Svitlana Yeremenko, in an article summarizing the monitoring results entitled “Most Destatized Regional Media Continue to be Dependent on the Authorities,” which was published on Detector Media’s and POID’s websites, concluded that independent local media remain in close contact with local authorities and demonstrate willingness to serve the authorities’ interests. Among the possible reasons for this situation, POID experts said, was a lack of understanding of media business rules, a lack of marketing strategies in local media, poor communication skills with audiences, lack of circulating capital, and small and underdeveloped local advertising markets. As a result, local authorities remain the main advertisers for the local media, and, this in turn affects the content of the publications.
Local media continue to publish jeansa (hidden advertising). POID noted that online versions are publishing jeansa at a much higher rate than their newspaper counterparts. In April, Petro Poroshenko, Yulia Tymoshenko, Volodymyr Zelensky, Valentyn Nalyvaychenko (former head of the State Security Service and presidential candidate in 2019), and Ministry of Justice head Pavlo Petrenko were the most frequently cited figures in these destatized media. At the local level, the deputy of the Sumy Regional Council, Lilia Rychkina, and the deputy of Kherson regional council, Pavlo Filipchuk, were the favorites of these media in April.
According to Yeremenko, POID experts noticed that during the presidential election period, local media often served up poorly justified surveys and statistics to their readers; publications of polling results did not include any analysis, expert assessments or research results. If the media work in the same way during the parliamentary elections, POID experts contend, the voter will be unlikely to get an objective picture of the candidates from this source.
One positive result of the April monitoring was the near complete absence of pro-Russian messages, propaganda, and fakes, which would have represented a threat to the information security of Ukraine, Yeremenko concluded.