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USAID Media Program in Ukraine Chief of Party Speaks at Government Forum on Coronavirus Response

February 10 – USAID Media Program in Ukraine Chief of Party Dr. Gillian McCormack spoke at the All-Ukrainian Forum “Coronavirus: Challenges and Responses,” organized by the Cabinet of Ministers and Office of the President, in partnership with the USAID Transformation Communications Activity. The event was held from February 8 to 10 at the Parkovyy conference center in Kyiv.

McCormack was a panelist in the “Pandemic: Disinformation and Misinformation” session on February 10, together with Taras Shevchenko (Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy), Jurgis Vilčinskas (deputy head of division of strategic communications and information analysis, EEAS), and Liubov Tsybulska (head of the hybrid warfare analytical group of Ukraine Crisis Media Center). Volodymyr Yermolenko (journalist and Internews Ukraine/Ukraine World expert) was the moderator. The panel covered European and international experience in dealing with pandemic disinformation and misinformation.

In her remarks, McCormack mentioned the results of Internews’ 2020 Media Consumption Survey, saying that more than 80 percent of Ukrainians said they were aware of false coronavirus narratives (e.g. that coronavirus is a bioweapon created in Chinese or US laboratories, invented by the media, or caused by the launch of 5G). Around a third believed that such stories were true and more than a third said that they had shared this disinformation with others. Internews’ test of people’s ability to recognize disinformation showed a major discrepancy between respondents’ confidence that they could spot it (65%) and their actual ability to do so (3%). McCormack highlighted the efforts of a number of USAID’s Media Program partners to combat disinformation, including the Academy of Ukrainian Press’ work with schools, Detector Media and Toronto TV’s popular edutainment vlogs, and Internews Ukraine’s interactive Propagandarium exhibition. She noted that government efforts to communicate accurate and reliable information should bear in mind that only 40% of Ukrainians trust national TV channels.