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Compliance with professional standards in online media. 2nd wave of monitoring in 2021

20.07.2021, 17:05

Within the period of second quarter of 2021, the highest level of compliance  (over 96% of texts written with no violations of professional standards) were observed on six sites : "Suspilne" (UA:PBC), "Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya", "Ukrainska Pravda", "Bukvy", "Ukrinform" and "Liga" .

The worst indicators of compliance with professional standards are consistently demonstrated by the Politeka website, with only 20% of the materials that hadn’t gross violations of the basic standards of professional journalism (and most of them were reposts from other media).

These are the results of the quarterly monitoring of IMI for compliance with professional standards in the leading Ukrainian online media.

Balance of opinions and points of view

Adherence to the standard of balance of opinions and points of view has not changed if to compare it with the previous monitoring period. Compliance with this standard has deteriorated by 0.3% and is 92.2% on average among all surveyed media.

No violations of this standard were recorded on the sites “Suspilne”, “Liga”, “Ukrayinska Pravda” and “Korrespondent”.

The most unbalanced news appeared on the sites "Politeka" and "Strana".

Violation of the balance standard occurs primarily in materials with signs of order or political manipulation. The vast majority of unbalanced materials promote someone's interests.

Credibiliy

The level of compliance with the credibility standard increased by 0.6% compared to the previous monitoring period and is 96%. The sites of “Novoye Vremya”, Interfax-Ukraine, Censor, “Bukvy”, Ukrinform, RBC-Ukraine, Liga and “Suspilne” did not violate the standard of credibility.

The website "Strana" had the lowest level of compliance with the standard of credibility.

Ukrainian sites that violate this standard in their materials refer to sources with a low level of credibility or unidentified accounts on social networks. There are also news in which the source of information is not specified at all.

Separation of facts from comments

The largest increase among the three analyzed standards was recorded as to the standard of separation of facts from comments: by 3% compared to the previous monitoring period (up to 92%). 

The lowest rate of compliance with this standard was recorded on the Politeka website, where more than half of the materials (54%) contained violations of this standard.

This indicator is most often violated in tabloid materials.

 

The sites with the highest standards of compliance were: "Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya", "Ukrainska Pravda", "Suspilne", "Bukvy", Ukrinform and "Liga" 

The vast majority of news on these resources are written with no violations of professional standards of journalism. On average, compliance with the standards on these sites was 98% in the second quarter of 2021. This is 1.6% higher than in the first quarter. Almost all sites that are leaders in IMI monitoring have improved their performance.

Censor, NV and RBC-Ukraine

The second position with a rate of 92% of materials without violations of professional standards was taken by the sites "Censor" and NV. 

Of these sites, only the NV site deteriorated its indicator by 2%, while Censor maintained its indicators at the level of the previous monitoring period.

The NV website was 100% compliant with the standard of credibility, but the edition had some materials with violations of the balance standard, such as "Lifelover launched a program to help grandparents in small towns ." 

Censors also had not any breaches of credibility or separation of facts from comments, but a number of materials lacked balance. For example, in the material “ NKREKP deliberately drives state energy companies to losses to the benefits of electricity importers from Russia – economist’s opinion ” there is no position of the opposite side and a full-fledged background. 

The RBC-Ukraine website also had no violations of the standard of credibility and separation of facts from comments, but there were violations of the balance standard. For example, the story based on the only blog of political expert Mykola Spiridonov, which was posted on "Censor" ("Hrynenko's consortium disrupted road works by 4 billion by means of tender trolling - expert ") failed to mention the position of the opposite party.

Korrespondent and Interfax-Ukraine

The third position with a rate of 88% of materials written with no violations of professional standards was taken by the resources "Korrespondent" and "Interfax-Ukraine".

The sites did not change their positions in comparison with the previous monitoring period. 

No violations of balance standards were recorded on the “Korrespondent” website. In fact, no jeansa was recorded on this resource in the monitoring of ordered materials. However, the site violates the standard of separating facts from comments. This mainly concerned tabloid texts. Evaluative judgments in such materials were seen, for example, in the headlines: " Kylie Jenner excited folk with pictures on a yacht ." The news said that "the Instagram celebrity published new spicy pictures that did not leave indifferent millions of her followers."

In addition to the fact that such materials had some evaluative judgments, they also had the objectification of women, which is a kind of sexism and belongs to the ethical violations.

Violations of the standard of credibility were also recorded on the site. The news " Putin and Xi Jinping have launched construction of nuclear power units in China " does not mention any sources of information. 

No violations of credibility and separation of facts from comments were recorded on the Interfax-Ukraine website. Instead, the balance standard was violated in 12% of the materials. First of all, it concerned thebtexts with signs of the order. For example, " UIA announced a sightseeing flight in Odessa as part of Odessa Wine Week ."

Gordon

The fourth position with 86% of materials written with no violations of basic professional standards was taken by the Gordon website.

No violations of the standard of separation of facts from comments were found on the Gordon website. The balance standard was violated in 12% of the texts, another 2% of the materials contained violations of credibility.

This is especially true for the news, where the source of information were the Russian media , which have been repeatedly noticed in the dissemination of misinformation, including RIA Novosti, Itar-Tass and others. Accordingly, it is permissible to mention only to such sources of information only when other source were inexistant, if you are convinced of the accuracy of the information and the news has a high social weight. In other cases, the use of Russian media as the only source of information should be avoided.

Violation of the balance standard on the Gordon website is also a consequence of posting materials with signs of the order.

For example, the news " The Federation of Employers of Ukraine opposed to the bill of the Ministry of Finance on changes to the Tax Code ", " Economist Kushniruk: Tax changes can not be introduced this year, they could lead to business bankruptcy ", " Yuzhanina: If you raise taxes sharply in six months, investors will leave Ukraine " are related to the same legislative initiative, while there is no point of view of the authors of these bills. 

The site's performance, as compared to the previous monitoring period, remains stable. However, they decreased compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, when resource indicators accounted for 92% of materials written with no violations of professional standards.

Channel 24

82% of the materials on Channel 24's website did not violate professional standards.

The standard for separating facts from comments was most often violated on the site. This was the case of tabloid news such as:

"Naomi Campbell 's mom revealed sex of top-model’s firstborn"

Elsa Gosk appeared for the first time after giving birth in photo session for Vogue tabloid "

However, there are such violations in texts on other topics, such as the news " At a heavy cost: tax pressure on business will bring the economy of Ukraine to its knees ", where the headline is a evaluative judgment, which is not attributed to anyone.

TSN

The level of compliance with professional standards on the site was 76% of the news. 20% of the materials on the site had some evaluative judgments. With the help of emotional epithets, the editors of the resource try to make out of its stories scoops.

Examples of such news are:

" In India, deaths toll from coronavirus augmented with number of victims of an unprecedented storm - TSN Exclusive "

Princess Beatrice is pregnant - details "

Ukrainian woman who threw away passports got to Peacemaker "

In addition to evaluative judgments, which is a violation of the professional standard of separating facts from comments, the news item " Show business news : Dana Borisova's daughter cut her veins in the school toilet - photo had also violations of ethical standards. One worth to report on suicide with many caution.  It is worth remembering that the systematic reiteration of suicide theme in mass media could lead to extremely negative effects, as the level of popularity of the suicide story is directly proportional to the number of eventual further suicides.

It is important to maintain a balance between the amount of such materials and the desire to inform the public. On the other hand, these materials should not provoke people in depression to commit suicide. 

It is also not necessary to indicate in such news the method and place of suicide or attempted suicide.

IMI issued some recommendations what journalists should pay attention to while reporting such news.

 

"Segodnya"

74% of the materials on the Segodnya website hadn’t violations of basic journalistic standards.

14% of the materials on the site contained violations of the standards of separation of facts from comments, another 12% of news lacked balance.

It is typical that violations of the separation of facts from comments are most common on the site in the tabloid news.

Yaroslav Rakytsky's wife Olga shot a video in St. Petersburg - Football News "

Football player Evhen Cheberko got married - hot photos of his wife - Football News "

Miss Universe - 2020 Elizabeth Yastremskaya could faint after the announcement of the results"

" Eurovision-2021 - the sexiest images - photos"

One could see on the Segodnya website the systemic influence of the media owner on the editorial policy while covering the activities of companies and organizations related to Rinat Akhmetov. Example:

" DTEK Energy completed the restructuring of loan portfolio "

Compared to the previous monitoring period, the site improved its performance by 4%.

 

“Obozrevatel”

The Obozrevatel website has significantly improved its performance. In the reporting period, 72% of the materials on this site were written without violating the professional standards of journalism. Most often, the site recorded a violation of the balance standard: 16% of the materials on the resource are unbalanced. Example:

" Actions of NKREKP led to loss of all CHP stations and nuclear power plants - Vlasenko "

Materials with signs of sexism were also recorded, for example, here in the title the author appeals only to women and promotes the stereotype that maintaining neatness and cleanliness in the house is only a woman's business: " 10 little things in the house that will instantly betray a clumsy housewife ."

"Strana"

38% of the materials on the Strana website had violations of professional standards. In 24% of news items the standard of separating facts from comments was violated, in another 22% of materials there was a violation of the balance standard.

The news item “The Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine will revise school history textbooks ” lacks balance, as only the point of view of the pro-Russian politician Portnov is presented and there is no position of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. The news also contains a pro-Russian narrative that discredits the Revolution of Dignity.

At the same time, the pro-Russian narrative, this time about Ukraine's dependence on Western partners, appeared in the news " Spottyswood stated that Naftogaz's supervisory board will extend its work for one year more ", which refers to the G7's influence on the decision to prolongate the contacts with the “Naftogaz Ukrainy”'s supervisory board.

The narrative about the oppression of the Russian-speaking population on the territory of Ukraine was seen in the news "The Cabinet of Ministers approved the concept of the program for the development of the Ukrainian language until 2030. " Background to this news item was supplemented by an unbalanced statement without a clearly identified source: "We’ll remind, according to opinion polls, every fifth Russian-speaking Ukrainian has faced a negative attitude towards himself because of one’s native language ."

In addition to narratives, which are manipulations of public opinion, such news violates the standards of balance and separation of facts from comments.

The standard of credibility on the site was violated in 16% of the texts. The resource was often referring to Russian propaganda media, such as Sputnik.

"Politeka"

The last step of the monitoring was taken by the Politeka website, which had 80% of materials violating professional standards of journalism. Only 20% of the materials could be conditionally called journalism, and these were reposts from other publications. 

Most text titles on the resource contain excessive emotionality or evaluative judgments:

Miss Ukraine - 2020 Elizaveta Yastremskaya made a boast of hers forms wearing transparent cloth: the princess of the night

Yuri Tkach's daughter touched Serhiy Babkin, who was saved from blindness, with a special gift: hand made by herself

No chance to survive: in Kiev the motorcycle at high speed flew into the car, pictures,

And some news items were dangerous in general and can provoke panic only with its headline:

There is nothing to extinguish fire: village in disaster, houses are burning one after another 

In 54% of the news on the site there were violations of the standard of separation of facts from comments.

12% of news on the site failed to be credible ones and had links to some unreliable or completely unidentified sources of information. In the article " Kharkiv woman was caught in obscenity things in one of the entrances: footage appeared " journalists referred to " one of the city's telegram channels", which is not specified. The news said that the woman was allegedly using drugs on the porch, but proof of this is a video in which a woman simply gives herself an injection, which is what she injects herself - it is unclear.

Conclusions: 

1.Unbalanced are mostly news with signs of order.

2.The most common violations of the standard of separation of facts from comments are found in the tabloid news.

3.In the seventh year of the war, some Ukrainian media continued to actively use Russian propaganda media as a source of information.

4.Some Ukrainian sites actively disseminate Russian rhetorics.

Monitoring analysis was conducted in May 2021 in 18 national Internet media: obozrevatel.com, korrespondent.net segodnya.ua, 24tv.ua, tsn.ua, strana.ua, pravda.com.ua, politeka.net, rbc.ua , gordonua.com, nv.ua (М), liga.net (М), ukrinform.ua (М), zn.ua (М), censor.net.ua (М), interfax.com.ua (М) , suspilne.media (M), bykvu.com (M). The total sample was 900 materials. 

The research methodology can be found here.

This study was made possible by the support of the American people through the USAID Media Program in Ukraine project, implemented by the international organization Internews Network. The content is under the sole responsibility of the Institute for Mass Information and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government or the Internews Network.

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