Problems in the coverage of IDP persist in Ukraine

Kyiv, 30 May, 2016 – Association Spilnyi Prostir and MEMO 98, supported by the European Union, have conducted the second monitoring wave of regional media coverage of Internally Displaced People (IDP). The monitoring is a part of the Regional Voices project implemented by a media consortium led by the Thomson Foundation.

The project envisions development of an early warning capacity of incendiary coverage of conflict related issues through consistent media monitoring and evaluation of regional media. Between 15 – 28 February 2016, the monitoring team conducted the second monitoring, with a special focus on how the topic of IDPs was reported in comparison with the first monitoring period in October 2015. Results of the second monitoring period have been released and can be found at regionalvoices.eu and with more charts and details at prostir-monitor.org.

“In comparison with the first monitoring period in October, regional media covered the IDP topic less actively. There was a lack of IDP-related stories in general and those with a more analytical and investigative approach in particular,” said Lesya Yaroshenko of Association Spilniy Prostir. “Some positive examples when media focused on human side of IDP stories were overshadowed by stories lacking professional standards. In particular, some stories looked like they were paid for or had some hidden PR agenda.  There have also been instances of re-posting stories published by nationwide news outlets in local media.”

The monitoring sample consisted of a total of 205 monitored media (50 TV channels, 65 print media and 90 online media outlets) in 24 regions of Ukraine divided into four geographical areas – Eastern regions (Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv); Western regions (Volyn, Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Rivne, Ternopil, Khmelnytsky and Chernivtsi); Northern/Central regions (Sumy, Chernihiv, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsya, Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad, Poltava and Cherkasy) and Southern region (Odessa, Kherson, Zaporizhya, Mykolayiv, ARC).

Differences persist in the way media approach the IDP-related topics across the country. Similar to the first monitoring period, the monitored media in the east of Ukraine gave the largest share of their coverage to IDPs, whereas the media in the west - the smallest share. At the same time, there were also many common features, including problems with lack of balance, poor sourcing, and a lack of diversity of views. Journalists generally did not question official statements by authorities or ask them probing questions; they did not pay enough attention to facts verification. While journalists generally avoided sensationalism when reporting on IDPs, there were a few examples when media discriminated IDPs, featuring them in a negative way or referring to them as ‘refugees’.

“It would be good to see more stories on IDPs. The media in general appear to be rather passive when reporting this topic, just reflecting on the situation and not making much effort to approach it more actively – for example by aiming for a long-term vision and initiating a more profound public discussion on how to resolve problems of IDPs. said Rasťo Kužel of MEMO 98, “We will continue with our monitoring and hope that it will provide useful and constructive feedback to all journalists who cover this issue.”

The next monitoring reports covering the first two weeks of June will be published in the second week of July.

The organizations implementing the project, Thomson Foundation and international Institute for Regional Media and Information, have also been conducting a series of trainings for regional media to strengthen their ability to respond to the conflict through enhanced independence and quality of content as well as by strengthening their access to networks, both within Ukraine and beyond its borders. Check out the Regional Voices project website regionalvoices.eu for upcoming workshops.

For more information on the monitoring results contact Lesya Yaroshenko, at 066 737 83 18 or by email: ukrainianmonitor@gmail.com 

For more information on the project, contact Olena Sadovnik, Olenkas@thomsonfoundation.org. Facebook: #RegionalVoicesUa #ГолосМісцевихЗМІ

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