Research of the media situation in Mykolayivska oblast
Development of media in Mykolayivska oblast, just as before, pertains only to online media outlets — only this type of media outlets has been growing in the region, and only in these type of media outlets we can observe some kind of dynamics.
Currently in Mykolaiv, over twenty online media outlets are actively functioning. Of course, not all of them are influential, yet anyway, they still have presence in the regional media space. Some of the most popular of those are «Prestupnosti.NET», «NikVesti», «Korabelov.info», «Novosti-N», «NikLife», «Moi Gorod», and others. Online media outlets transit to video-based format («NikVesti», «Prestupnosti.NET»), implement new projects and categories.
In 2016, new online media outlets appeared in Mykolaiv — they are «Novostnoy Nikolaev» owned by the former candidate for the head of Mykolayivska oblast state administration Artem Vashchylenko, «NovostNik», whose beneficiary is yet unknown, and the website «Svidok.info», created as a private start-up of the former correspondent of the online media outlet «Novosti-N» Andriy Prokopenko.
In the oblast, regional and rayon printed newspapers continue to function, although one of the previously stable newspapers ceased to operate for an unknown reason — the newspaper in question is «Nash gorod Nikolaev». In the oblast center, 7 newspapers continue to get published.
A peculiarity of the media space of Mykolaiv has always been the fact that only one local radio station works (radio «Mykolayiv» of the National TV company of Ukraine branch) here and only five TV channels.
In Mykolaiv, there are almost no media outlets that publish information in Ukrainian. Only two very low-rated online media outlets use Ukrainian, and TV programs are mostly in Ukrainian, too. Newspapers and online media outlets are mostly in Russian.
Almost all Mykolayiv online media outlets continue to conceal the names of their owners and beneficiaries — only several published this information.
Generally, the mass media field of Mykolaiv is in a situation where almost all exclusive newsbreaks are created for the sake of some political conflict, where each media outlet is focused on covering the issues only to benefit its owner. The regional media now tend to more rarely cover issues based on their significance for the society; instead, they actively publish news advantageous for their beneficiaries, or disadvantageous for the beneficiary's enemies. A large portion of news is still «no-legwork» news and reprints of official messages.
Topics of news in local media
Based on the results of the monitoring of mass media in Mykolaiv, we can conclude that in general media outlets in Mykolayiv publish news materials on the same topics they do in other regions, although in some spheres media outlets of Mykolaiv are peculiar. For example, in Mykolayiv media outlets, unlike media outlets in other regions, they write more about national politics (11% from all news in local media outlets) and publish more international news (5%). These are the highest indicators for these categories among all surveyed regions.
Media outlets that cover the war in the East of Ukraine, are also quite typical — for today, only 5% of news in local media are dedicated to this topic, which is the average indicator for Southeastern regions — from 1% in Kherson and Odesa to 8% in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
At that, we should mention that while online media outlets in Mykolayiv are more active in covering the ATO (6% from all news in online media outlets), and a considerable share of local TV news (9%) is dedicated to the armed conflict in Donbas, printed newspapers have almost no materials on this topic at all («Vecherniy Nikolaev» — 0 articles, «Yuzhnaya pravda» — 0, «Ridne Prybuzhzhya» — 1%).
The leading topic in the news in Mykolayiv media outlets is crime reports and reports about traffic accidents and emergencies: one in every news stories covers these topics. In this case, Mykolayiv follows the overall tendency — reports of crimes and emergencies is the popular topic in other regions of Ukraine, too.
In Mykolayiv, in the online media outlets’ news, stories about crimes and traffic accidents have the greatest share. Where on local TV channels crime reports are only 11% of all news, in printed newspapers they are 16%, and in online media outlets this indicator is as high as 31% («Prestupnosti.NET» — 34%, «NikVesti» — 19%, «Novosti-N» — 37%, «Korabelov.info» — almost 44%).
Unlike in other oblasts, Mykolayiv online media outlet turned out to pay increased attention to international news. 10% of the total number of news in four online media outlets of Mykolaiv are dedicated specifically to international events, even though those media outlets are regional. At the same time, local television does not pay any attention to international events at all, and newspapers just provide an extract of main international events in a short column.
At the same time, regional online media outlets of Mykolaiv almost never write about local cultural events — only 3% of news. At that, on the TV this indicator equals 18% and in newspapers — 11%.
In newspapers, local politics is the leading topic — 17% of materials are dedicated to it. Newspapers, unlike online mass media, pay a lot of attention to sports — 11% of all materials in three printed media outlets. There are topics, which some newspapers cover, but others ignore completely. For example, the newspaper «Vecherniy Nikolaev» does not cover the topic of corruption at all, and «Ridne Prybuzhzhya» has as many as six stories about it. At the same time, «Vecherniy Nikolaev» and «Ridne Prybuzhzhya» published some articles about science and technologies, but «Yuzhnaya Pravda» does not publish any.
A peculiarity of Mykolayiv media outlets is also the fact that they almost never write about the problems of the environment — only one of 325 studied news stories on the website «Prestupnosti.NET» was dedicated to this topic, and one of 129 articles – in the newspaper «Ridne Prybuzhzhya». In all other media outlets of Mykolaiv, there are no materials on the topic of the environmental protection.
Also, only 1% of materials in all Mykolayiv media address the issue of education — just the same percentage as the news on science and technologies.
Covert advertisement in local media
Although currently no elections are held in Ukraine or in Mykolayivska oblast, political dzhynsa is still published in media outlets. For the two weeks of the monitoring, the highest percentage of covert advertisement was registered in printed newspapers — 9.5% from all articles are likely to be commissioned materials without being tagged, as the law requires, «sponsored feature».
There is a bit less dzhynsa at local TV (8%) and in online media outlets (5%).
The leader among those who commission the political dzhynsa is, without doubt, the Ukrainian MP from the party «Vidrodzhennia», Artem Ilyuk — 11 dzhynsa materials almost in all surveyed newspapers and online media outlets: in various media outlets, the same articles benefiting people's deputy Iliuk are being published.
Not much less of «dzhynsa» in regional media of Mykolaiv is commissioned by the party «Opposition Bloc» and by the head of Mykolayiv city branch of this party, Ihor Diatlov — in total, 8 such materials are identified, most of them are published in the online media outlet «Novosti-N» and were broadcast by the private TV channel «NIS-TV».
The former Party of Regions member and former head of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast State Administration Oleksandr Vilkul continues to commission dzhynsa in Mykolayiv media outlets, too — in 2 weeks, 6 materials of this kind were identified, mostly they were published in printed newspapers «Vecherniy Nikolaev» and «Yuzhnaya pravda» and the online media outlet «Novosti-N».
Commercial dzhynsa in Mykolayiv media is much less frequent and appears less systematically — single publications with covert advertising are registered benefiting the Southern Ukrainian Atomic Power Station, LLC JV «Nibulon», Admiral Makarov National University of Shipbuilding, Sukhomlinsky Mykolayiv National University, PrivatBank, and the special port «Olvia».
Unlike other regions of South and West of Ukraine, in key Mykolayiv media outlets we failed to identify any materials that are likely commissioned for the benefit of the city mayor or head of oblast state administration.
Sources of information for local media
The main source of information for Mykolayiv media outlets is releases from official structures — agencies of the government or local self-government, law enforcement agencies or officials: in 45% of materials, journalists of Mykolayiv give references to official releases. For comparison, in Kherson this indicator is 43%, in Odesa — 55%, Zaporizhzhya — 40%, in Dnipro — 46%. Expectedly, the authorities in Ukraine remain the main newsmaker, and Mykolayiv is not an exception this time.
In 12% of materials, Mykolayiv media refer to their own correspondents as sources of information, in 10% of cases they get information from national media outlets, 6% of news are taken from social networks, 5% — from other local media outlets, in 3% of news they refer to eyewitnesses, and only in 1% — to experts.
By the percentage of news without any indicated sources of information, Mykolayiv mass media have one of the highest indicators: in 12% of news, it is not clear what the source of the journalist's information was. This is a quite alarming indicator, as it raises doubts about adherence of the journalism standard of accuracy by the editorial offices and raises suspicions about the good practices of the media outlets.
The highest percentage of materials without any indicated sources of information among online media outlets is recorded on the website «Novosti-N» — 14% (20 news of 145 surveyed). Of the newspapers, the highest percentage of news from unknown sources is in the newspaper «Ridne Prybuzhzhia» — 31% (40 of 129 surveyed materials) and in the newspaper «Vecherniy Nikolaev» — 26% (25 of 95).
There are almost no news without an indicated source of information in the online media outlet «NikVesti» (only 1 news without an indicated source) and in the online media outlet «Prestupnosti.NET», where only 3 of 325 such news stories were found.
Mykolayiv journalists almost never give a reference to their own anonymous sources, to media outlets of the occupied territories and to Russian media outlets.
The monitoring was conducted in January 2017 in the following media outlets: the newspapers «Vecherniy Nikolaev» (number of copies 1,632, published three times a week), «Yuzhnaya pravda» (number of copies 10,290, published three times a week), «Ridne Prybuzhzhia» (number of copies 5,657, weekly); the online media outlets News.pn (approx. 40,842 unique visitors per day), Nikvesti.com (approx. 4,995 unique visitors per day), Novosti-n.org (approx. 69,328 unique visitors per day), Korabelov.info (approx. 6,008 unique visitors per day); the TV channels «Mykolayiv» (Oblast Stat TV and Radio company) and «NIS-TV».
The monitoring was conducted by the experts of the Institute of Mass Information with the support of the Ukraine Confidence Building Initiative (UCBI), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The methodology is explained in more detail on the IMI website.