What are Ukraine’s Media Literacy Achievements in 2021, and What Should Be Done Next Year?

January 5 – In “What are Ukraine’s Media Literacy Achievements in 2021, and What Should Be Done Next Year?” Detector Media journalist Olha Betsa interviewed leading experts about the state of media literacy in Ukraine.

Major takeaways: 

  • Oksana Moroz (founder of the initiative “How not to become a vegetable”) said Ukraine did not make any progress in 2021 in terms of raising the level of citizens’ media literacy and critical thinking, and the country will not see improvements for two to three years if global challenges persist. She suggested a broad information campaign in 2022 about the Institute of Mass Information’s Whitelist of media outlets (supported by USAID’s Media Program in Ukraine), which promotes high quality local media outlets to advertisers to help revenue-starved media attract more programmatic ad buys. Informing people about whitelisted media would be a significant step forward in helping consumers increase their resilience to disinformation.
  • Tetiana Troshchyntska (chief editor, Hromadske Radio) said the corporate practices implemented by Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube to delete disinformation from their platforms were important. She called for more investment in factchecking in 2022.
  • Maryna Dorosh (program manager, Learn to Discern, IREX) praised factcheckers’ work in 2021, and talked about the importance of analyzing Kremlin narratives, including those in social media. She said coordinating factcheckers with state institutions is vital, especially with the Center for Strategic Communications (under the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy).
  • Oksana Volosheniuk (manager of media education projects, Academy of Ukrainian Press) said in 2021 countering infodemia (misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic) was just as important as the fight against disinformation in the effort to protect Ukraine’s information security. Volosheniuk suggested focusing on coordinating stakeholders’ platforms in 2022 to unite efforts in countering disinformation.

More on Detector Media in Ukrainian.

 

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CEDEM and Ministry of Culture and Information Policy Discuss Joint Actions on Access to Public Information

December 22, Ukrinform, Kyiv – Internews partner Center for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM) held a discussion on access to public information entitled “Activities of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy in the Field of Access to Public Information in 2021 and Plans for 2022.” The event was supported by the Swedish International Development Agency.

Major takeaways: 

  • Taras Shevchenko, Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy, reviewed the key activities of his Ministry on access to public information in 2021 related to the adoption of the Tromso Convention. An inter-state expert group was formed for the adaptation of the Tromso Convention to Ukrainian legislation and realities. The relevant NGOs and the Parliamentary Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy were part of this group.
  • Hanna Krasnostup, head of the Directorate of Access to Information at the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, described how the Ministry trained its employees in the procedures for filing responses on public information requests, with assistance from CEDEM. The Ministry launched a special section on its website on access to public information. Krasnostup said the Ministry continues to study best practices of EU member states on how to tackle violations of access to public information and ensure the consistency of EU and Ukrainian legislation.
  • Vita Volodovska, director of the Laboratory for Digital Security, reported that amendments to the law “On Access to Public Information” will be discussed in January and February 2022 by the relevant Parliamentary Committee. The amendments will regulate access to open data and citizens’ access to government meetings.
  • Tamara Oleksiyuk, CEDEM lawyer, said 30% of requests to the Ombudsperson of Ukraine are about access to public information.
  • Ihor Rozkladai, deputy director of CEDEM, called for a public awareness campaign on access to public information, including education for citizens on getting information from open sources, as well as training public officials on production of quality responses to information requests.

 

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Internews-Ukraine Hosts Webinar on Street Art as a Media Literacy and Critical Thinking Tool

December 21 – Internews-Ukraine (IUA) held a webinar on critical thinking for Ukrainian street artists taking part in its ARTIFAKE project. The event took place on Zoom and gathered 23 participants, including 20 artists.

The webinar was organized in partnership with another Internews partner, the Academy of Ukrainian Press (AUP). Keynote speaker Oksana Volosheniuk, AUP’s manager of media education programs, focused on strategies for integrating media literacy and art.

Freelance photography researcher and art historian Victoria Myronenko spoke about photography as an alternative for street art and a tool for social change and impact on different audiences at a time of visual oversaturation.

Maria Hryshchenko, sociologist and researcher at the Center for Urban Studies, spoke about the visual tools of street art in the context of media literacy and ways to involve the community and residents in the creation of public spaces.

ARTIFAKE is the first international project that promotes media literacy through street art, engaging local communities in Ukraine, Poland, and Armenia. IUA has already created three murals in Southern and Eastern Ukraine through the project (“The City Vector: Critical Thinking,” “Between the Letters,” and “Info-noise”). The project team will select two art concepts after the webinar and place them in the Luhansk and Odesa regions.

 

Photo by Internews-Ukraine: mural in Kakhovka, Kherson region

IMI Publishes Freedom of Speech Barometer for November 2021

December 3 – The Institute of Mass Information (IMI) reported 12 violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine in its November 2021 Barometer of Freedom of Speech. IMI experts said half of the violations were recorded in the category of physical aggression against journalists conducting their professional work. Some examples of the violations are:

  • In Khmelnytskyy, a journalist and IMI regional representative was attacked and doused with an unknown liquid substance;
  • State Investigation Bureau launched an investigation of Censor.net Editor-in-Chief’s Yuriy Butusov Facebook video showing him firing a weapon; and
  • In Kyiv, Magnolia TV journalists were attacked by the priests of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (orthodox church of Russian patriarchy) while reporting about a fire on the church territory.

Eight violations occurred in Kyiv, and one each in Zhytomyr, Ternopil, Kmelnytskyy, and Poltava.

So far in 2021, IMI has recorded 165 cases of violation of journalists’ professional rights. The IMI monthly Barometer of Freedom of Speech is supported by the USAID Media Program in Ukraine, implemented by Internews.

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

 

Photo: IMI

Institute of Mass Information Publishes Recommendations on How to Cover Military Aggression

November 29 – Leading experts of the Institute of Mass Information, Oksana Romaniuk, Roman Holovenko, Olena Holub, and Ali Safarov, elaborated on recommendations for journalists on how to cover military aggression – they are posted on the IMI website. IMI stresses the importance of accuracy and fact-checking, avoiding manipulations and emotional rhetoric, finding the right experts to comment, and striving for gender balance. The recommendations advise on reporting the statements/positions of militants and on using correct and up-to-date vocabulary. For example, IMI warns against using the term “little green men” to describe Russian troops, as Russia promotes this wording to soften the real nature of military occupation. Instead, IMI experts advise journalists to use “occupiers” to describe Russian military forces, even those who do not wear military gear.

More on the Institute of Mass Information in Ukrainian.

 

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Liga.net Presents its Handbook on Media Sustainability

November 23 – Liga.net developed a handbook on media sustainability, summarizing its 20-month experience in crowdfunding, evolving a system of regular payments, and community development. The handbook is entitled “How to encourage readers to pay for the quality content.” According to Liga, around 6,000 readers supported them during this period; 1,000 do so regularly, covering more than a quarter of the staff’s salaries.

The handbook is free for download.

More on the Institute of Mass Information in Ukrainian.

 

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Independent Media Council Discusses Conflict-Sensitive Reporting in the South

November 29 – The Independent Media Council (IMC), Suspilnist Foundation (SF), and the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM), held the online discussion “Possible conflict escalation: how to address this topic and avoid mistakes,” highlighting the specifics of conflict-sensitive reporting. The event was the first one in a series of discussions dedicated to the possible escalation of conflict in Ukraine. The event was held in-person for media representatives of Mykolaiv region. Participants will also have a chance to join online. The three subsequent discussions will be organized in late 2021-early 2022 in Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions.


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Research Shows Ukrainian YouTube Segment Surpassed Pro-Russian Networks in Popularity in 2021

November 24 – Ukrayinska Pravda published the article “Renaissance of Ukrainian YouTube. Research on how the era of pro-Russian channels is coming to an end in Ukraine” by Oksana Moroz, head of the How not to Become a Vegetable media literacy project. Moroz presented the results of research conducted in cooperation with the digital media agency be.true. media from August to November 2021. They studied 421 of the largest social and political YouTube channels which target the Ukrainian audience.

The article referred to the USAID-Internews Media Consumption Survey 2021, saying that every fourth Ukrainian consumes news from YouTube, while fewer than ever Ukrainians are using TV for news. According to Moroz, a key finding of his research is that Ukrainian YouTube has replaced pro-Russian networks produced either by Russians or Ukrainians who are affiliated with Russian media products. In the last three months, viewership of the top Ukrainian YouTube channels was 30% higher than the group of pro-Russian channels Moroz’ group monitored. This marks a difference from even one year ago, when pro-Russian channels were the most watched.

Moroz reported that through Patreon more than 12,000 Ukrainians are supporting 50 of the top YouTube channels with 2,300,000 million hryvnias (US$85,185) per month. The three channels with the highest totals of Patreon donations are Serhii Prytula, Toronto TV, and Bihus.info. For example, Bihus.info, as of November 2021, had 490,000 subscribers and more than 166,000 monthly views. In 2021, Bihus.info launched the “UNSCAMMED” investigative reporting project with the support of the USAID Media Program in Ukraine (implemented by Internews), which exposes common types of fraud. One of these videos – How to recognize fraudsters on OLX? Top 5 schemes – has received half a million views.

Another Internews partner, Toronto TV, is among the leaders with half a million subscribers, Moroz wrote. The average number of views of a single Toronto TV video is five times more than  that of videos posted on Dmytro Gordon’s channel, despite the fact that Gordon has over three million subscribers and is the most popular vlogger in Ukraine, according to the USAID-Internews 2021 media consumption survey.

The article quoted Mykola Rohynets, CEO of be.true.media, saying: “Ukrainian-language and pro-Ukrainian YouTube will continue to grow. This is inevitable because there is a corresponding public demand. Viewers like this content, advertisers like the number of views on these channels. And the government sometimes supports producers in Ukrainian language. I think next year we will see at least 30-50% growth in viewership.”

Moroz said Anatolii Sharii’s channel remains a significant player in pro-Russian YouTube in Ukraine. Since November 2020, the number of his subscribers has increased by 150,000. However, according to Moroz’s research in 2020, the share of Sharii’s viewers from Ukraine is just 25%, with 52% coming from Russia, and the rest from other countries.

Be.true.media followed a research methodology where it organized a database of YouTube channels which covered Ukrainian socio-political topics. Then the database was supplemented by channels that were analyzed in the 2020 study. As a result, a list of more than 5,000 channels was formed. Then the analysts removed channels produced in Russia and covering Russian issues (with only random mentions of Ukraine), and those that did not publish socio-political videos on a regular basis. The remaining number of channels was 525. After a final check of the statistics in open sources and the previous years’ reports, the 421 largest socio-political YouTube channels that target Ukrainian audiences were examined.

More on Ukrayinska Pravda in Ukrainian.


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Crimea Public Organization Trains Journalists on Antimonopoly Investigations

November 18 – The Information and Press Center (IPC-Crimea, now located in Kyiv) organized an online master class entitled “How to Conduct Antimonopoly Investigations and Expose Cartel Conspiracies” for 16 regional journalists. Speaker: Ahia Zahrebelska, founder of the Antitrust League, former Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine State Commissioner. Journalists learned how anti-corruption legislation should work, and how to expose cartel conspiracies. Zahrebelska provided the example of the “Big Construction,” currently being implemented in Ukraine under President Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s name, identified monopolists, and shared topics and sources for antitrust investigations in the regions.

 

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Hromadske Radio Launches New Program Addressing Donbas Challenges

November 17 – Hromadske Radio broadcast the first episode of a new radio program entitled “There is a Solution,” anchored by Andriy Kulykov. This is a joint project with the Public Interest Journalism Lab. The program is broadcast every Wednesday at 10:00am.

The program addresses challenges met by residents of the government-controlled and non-government-controlled areas of Donbas, so that local and national authorities hear about these issues and establish a dialogue with locals to resolve them.

In the first episode, on November 17, Hromadske Radio focused on COVID-19 and the lack of family doctors and hospitals in Donbas. Speakers: Deputy Minister of Healthcare of Ukraine Iryna Mykychak, Director of the Department of Healthcare of Luhansk Regional State Administration Yuriy Stogniev, and Head of the Healthcare Department of Donetsk Regional State Administration Yanina Vatulina.

More on Hromadske Radio in Ukrainian.

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