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Media Movement warns Zelensky’s team: society is not just your friends and followers

Photo credit: Youtube UA: Pershyy

The Media Movement “Media for Conscious Choice” warns the President Volodymyr Zelensky’s team against provocations against the media. “We do not need journalists as mediators to talk to voters” is a short-sighted stance that demonstrates misunderstandings by the colleagues of the head of state of the role and functions the mass media have in society. The new government’s willingness to spread misinformation is a worrying signal that requires from journalists not to forget to thoroughly verify the statements and to take under tough control the politicians’ actions.

On August 1st, a number of media outlets and news agencies made public the news about the letter of resignation of his own free will, which was allegedly written by the head of the Office of the President Andriy Bohdan. A photo of this letter was sent to several media outlets from a source in the Office of the President (according to “Dzerkalo tyzhdnya” weekly and some other sources, it was the deputy head of the OP Kyrylo Tymoshenko. He denies it). The next day, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that Bohdan, like all other members of the team, had written a letter of resignation without date. As to the president, divulgating a copy of this letter was not misinformation. Commenting on this story, Andriy Bohdan said that journalists should not identify themselves with the society, and, meanwhile, Volodymyr Zelensky’s team communicates with society without any intermediary.

It should be noted that representatives of the Office of the President deliberately contributed to the dissemination of the untrue news: they handed over a copy of the letter to several journalists at the same time and did not confirm or deny its authenticity for 24 hours. So this is a deliberate provocation against the media. We consider it unacceptable when public officials and politicians knowingly disseminate false information, undermining public confidence in the media. Of particular concern is the reaction of the Head of State, Volodymyr Zelensky, who did not acknowledge that his subordinates acted inappropriately.

We believe this is manipulative to oppose direct communication of politicians with public through social networks and “mediated” communication through mass media. Both are necessary components of transparent political activity. Controlling politicians, asking them questions, including inconvenient ones, and seeking answers are one of the main tasks of the media, and the authorities, in its turn, have an obligation to be open to the media. The accountability of the authorities to the society through the media cannot be replaced by the comfortable communication of the people’s deputies in the social networks, because the society is not only their friends and followers. We believe that the President and his team should make several important conclusions from this incident and not allow such statements and actions to be repeated further.

We hope that this case will also be a warning for the journalists: transparency, fact checking and strict compliance to professional standards must replace non-public relations with politicians, leaks and mutual services. For mass media, the important thing is to remain relevant to your audience by providing it with prompt, high-quality and truthful information and articulating the needs of the public before the authorities and politicians.

Media-conscious “Media for conscious choice”

Media Detector

Institute of Development of Regional Press

Ukrayinsky Tyzhden

Teksty

Liga.net

Radio NV

“Institute of Mass Information”

Internews-Ukraine

Institute of Democracy named of Philip Orlik

Ukrainian Crisis Media Center

“Po toy bik novyn” news campaign

“Suspilnist” Foundation

Natalia Ligacheva

Tatiana Danilenko

Svetlana Ostapa

Galyna Petrenko

Svetlana Eremenko

Oksana Romanyuk

Gayhysiz Heldiev

Constantine Kvurt

Lubomir Ferents

Zoya Krasovskaya

Irina Zemlyana

Taras Petriv

To remind, on February 5th, several Ukraine TV channels, radio companies, printed press outlets and web-based editions and media NGOs launched a media initiative “Media for conscious choice” aimed to ensure for Ukraine citizens the possibility to elect the head of state and the parliament on the ground of complete and trustful information.

The first signatories of the media movement memorandum were: UA: Pershy, Ukraynske Radio, Hromadske radio, Ukrinform, Interfax-Ukraine, Liga.net, Dzerkalo tyzhdnya weekly, Novoe Vrema daily, Censor.net, The 5th TV channel, Ukrayinsky Tyzhden, Opinion, several regional mass media, Independent media council, Detektor Media, The Institute of mass information, Internews Ukraine, Center for democracy and rule of law, Souspilinist Foundation, Independent association of TV and radio broadcasters, The Donetsk institute of information, The Institute of democracy named of Pylyp Orlyk and other media institutions and individual journalists, in total 70 members adhered the media initiative.

To join the Media Movement or to support it, please contact our coordinator Vadym Misky : vadim.miskyi@gmail.com.

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