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How Ukrainian media violate the reliability standard

31.01.2013, 00:56

In 2012, the standard of reliability in the Ukrainian printed media was observed in 70% of socially important publications. This is the result of a monitoring by the Institute of Mass Information. 

Adherence to journalistic standards is a universal sign of high-quality journalistic material. Their non-compliance or violation in informational journalism leads to the fact that the audience receives either a poor material (with manufacturing defects) or a fundamentally different product (“jeans” - hidden advertising).

The Institute of Mass Information have been monitoring the compliance with journalist standards in six leading national newspapers and four online publications for over a year already. The monitoring results show that there are problems in this sphere. The majority of Ukrainian media violate standards of balance of opinions, the completeness of the facts and information, as well as the accuracy of the information.

Paragraph 6 of the Code of Ethics of the Ukrainian journalist states that first duty of the journalist is to respect the public's right to receive full and objective information about facts and events. Any topic requires the fullest possible set of facts and opinions. The task of the journalist is to found all that in competent sources.

"The reliability of information means that every fact is checked with competent sources. It is logically to ask the Finance Minister about the exact number of budget expenditures, and, for the balance - the chairman of the Budget Committee of Parliament. As for the danger of complications connected with another strain of flu, it is advisable to ask a scientist and a physician in practice. And an important requirement of this standard - each time the journalist should clearly communicate to its audience, where he took material or that fact or opinion "- says IMI lawyer Roman Golovenko.

The International Declaration of Principles on the Conduct of Journalists stipulates that a journalist shall report only in accordance with facts of which he / she knows. But, all too often, as evidence for their arguments, journalists refer to some strange surveys or mythical experts, and use expressions like "as it is commonly believed," "we know", "according to statistics," "according to sociological studies" and so n .

The IMI monitoring in 2012 showed that the accuracy in the Ukrainian printed media was observed in 70% of socially important publications. "Generally, it's pretty high. We monitor the leading media of the market, so they can afford more experienced and professional journalists, for example, than smaller regional newspapers and publications, "- says IMI expert Elena Golub.

For example, Ukrayinskiy Tyzhden weekly (№ 49, 7-13 December 2012) published an articles about biometric passports with citing unidentified "experts" and "specialists", who criticized the law passed.


The author does not mention the people who exposed the corruption component of the law, does not specify the origin of the data about the cost of manufacturing of passports and equipment purchases. Thus, readers cannot fully trust this information.

 Another example - article "Ukrainian steel industry lost a landmark" in “Kommentarii” newspaper on December 14, 2012: "Today, experts cannot give a clear answer, what are the prospects of the Ukrainian metallurgy ...", "The need of the domestic steel market is not the first talk and officials and experts", etc..

 Such violations, according to the director of Mohyla School of Journalism Eugene Fedchenko, sometimes occur due to negligence or poor training of journalists, rather unintentionally. "I do not think this is a way to manipulate public opinion, but I believe that public control over the quality of journalism is extremely necessary and will improve it," - said Fedchenko in his comments to IMI.

 Sometimes, because of the need to quickly provide the material for printing, or simply because of the reluctance to complicate their work, journalists do not try to find evidence to the facts. Sometimes the reliability suffers when the journalist is limited by the number of signs for an article, or do not want to make the text too cumbersome – in this case, the author removes description of researches or names and positions of experts, to which he refers.

 But Elena Golub, who have been monitoring national publications for more than a year, says that often the failure of this standard is an evidence that the publication was ordered, and that it is a particular feature of “jeans” materials. In this case, the unreliability is often combined with the imbalance of ideas and poor presentation of the facts.

 “Fakty” newspaper, in one small informational message, can give up to 3-4 unreliable references. For example, in this publication by Andriy Voychenko "analysts" and "experts" very convincingly prove the effectiveness of investing money into gold bullion coins of the National Bank.

Journalists, intentionally or unintentionally, manipulate the reader's mind, driving "expert opinion" and "research results" under their own views and assumptions. High-quality news journalism means the opposite: that the facts and information from reliable sources should be the basis for the material. After all, a natural consequence of regular violations of reliability standards is the loss of readers’ trust.

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