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23.05.2016

"An honest journalist is the most powerful weapon against propaganda"

Interview by Kira Kirschbach, translation Michelle Trimborn
Oleksandr Chekmyshev is Doctor of Science in Social Communications, Head of the Equal Access Committee, Chief of the monitoring projects at Association "Common Space"

ECPMF: How do you judge the protection of journalistic standards in Ukraine? Is it possible to report balanced and objectively on the war?

Oleksandr Chekmyshev Oleksandr Chekmyshev, Doctor of Science in Social Communications Head of the Equal Access Committee; Chief of the monitoring projects at Association "Common Space" (Photo: private)

Oleksandr Chemyshev: Often journalistic standards are ignored for the sake of patriotism and ideology. Our studies on current journalistic tendencies show problems like biased reporting, incorrect terminology and hate speech, commissioned reporting or the copying of other articles. Stories about the simple people [what the real consequences of war are for the people living in the East of Ukraine, editor’s note] can mainly be found in social media, but not in the traditional media.

Do you think that people still trust the Ukrainian media?

Many polls, including some sociological studies (http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2015/06/30/7072928, http://www.unian.ua/society/1225738-sotsiologi-dovira-ukrajintsiv-do-vladi-za-rik-radikalno-vpala-lideri-doviri-volonteri-i-tserkva.html), show the descending level of trust of the Ukrainian people in their media. According to such polls, between January and July 2015, 11% have more, but 19% show less trust than before. The trust in Russian media is even lower. Only 1% of the people asked increased the trust, 60% trust less now.

It is not only the war, but the situation on the Ukrainian media market that undermines the credibility. In the national register of the Ukrainian media regulation office http://www.nrada.gov.ua/ua/derzhavniyreestr.html 1660 national and local TV and radio companies are listed, with at least 700 of them regularly working. This amount of broadcasting stations cannot be financed by advertising money only. This means that there must be a dependence of the outlets on commissioned and paid reporting as well as a close loyalty to media owners.

From my personal point of view, journalists should always try hard to carefully investigate and report reality as accurate as possible. An honest journalist is the most powerful weapon against Russian propaganda.

If people do not trust Ukrainian media, how influential is the Russian propaganda then?

Russian propaganda is most effective in the Crimea region and Eastern Ukraine, so the areas of conflict. The Ukrainian TV-signals are often not available in those region. And Ukrainian media, despite a few good projects, cannot fully withstand the Russian propaganda.

Factbox: “Common Space” Association

The Common Space association was founded in 1995 as a media monitoring lab. It does not only want to observe what the media offers its audience and thus to keep the media under a microscope. The main thing - that the public authorities and journalists act in a single network of relationships: the authorities transparently and honestly inform of its plans and activities, the public pays attention to pressing problems and proposing creative solutions, media and help understand each other, and not only inform, but also thoroughly and honestly analyze the diversity of social life.

Main Donors: Freedom House, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, MARTA КАР Program, International Renaissance Foundation, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Democracy Grants Program of the US. Embassy, OSCE, NDI, Council of Europe, European Union, IFES





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