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Compliance with professional standards in online media. 3rd wave of monitoring in 2021

01.10.2021, 13:28

The highest level of compliance in the third quarter of 2021 (over 96% of news items that hadn’t violations of professional standards) was observed on the following sites: Suspilne, Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya, Liga, Ukrayinska Pravda, Babel, Hromadske , Bukvy, Espresso and NV.

The worst indices of compliance with professional standards are in a sustained way demonstrated by the Politeka website, with only 14% of news items that hadn’t violated any basic standards of professional journalism (and most of them were reprinted from other media).

These are the results of quarterly IMI monitoring in compliance with professional standards in leading Ukrainian online media. The monitoring took place in July-August 2021.

Balance of thoughts and points of view

Compliance with the standard of balance of opinions and points of view has been improved, compared to the previous monitoring period, by almost 2% and amounted to 94% on average among all surveyed media.

No violations of this standard were recorded on the sites Suspilne, Hromadske, Babel, Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya, Ukrayinska Pravda, Espresso, Liga and NV.

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

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

Credibility

The level of compliance with the credibility standard decreased by 1.2%, compared to the previous monitoring period, and is 94.8%. The sites of NV, Hromadske, Liga, Babel, Espresso, RBC-Ukraine, Censor, Ukrinform, Gordon, Channel 24 and Suspilne did not violate the standard of credibility.

The lowest level of compliance with the credibility standard is recorded on the website of Politeka.

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

Separation of facts from comments

Compliance with the standard of separating facts from comments deteriorated by almost 2% compared to the previous monitoring period and averaged 90.4% among all surveyed media.

No violations of this standard were recorded on the sites of Suspilne, Hromadske, Babel, Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya, RBC-Ukraine, Ukrinform, Gordon and Interfax-Ukraine.

The worst performance as to this standard was recorded on the Politeka website, where more than half of the news items (52%) had violations of it.

This index most often was violated in tabloid-like texts.

  1. The sites with the highest percent of texts which were complying with the journalism standards were: Suspilne, Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya, Liga, Ukrayinska Pravda, Babel, Hromadske, Bukvy, Espresso and NV

The vast majority of news items on these resources had no violations of professional standards of journalism. On average, compliance with the standards on these sites was of 98% in the third quarter of 2021. Compared to the previous quarter, the average compliance with the standards on the sites-leaders of the rating has not changed. Also, for the first time, the monitoring of IMI's professional standards included the Babel and Espresso websites, which demonstrated a high level of journalism. 

  1. Censor, Ukrinform and RBC-Ukraine

The second position with a rate of 94% of materials with no violations of professional standards was taken by the sites Censor, Ukrinform and RBC-Ukraine. 

Of these sites, only Ukrinform worsened its results by 2% and dropped to second place. Instead, Censor and RBC-Ukraine improved its performance by 2% compared to the previous monitoring period.

No breaches of credibility or separation of facts from comments was recorded on Censor site, but a number of materials lacked some balance. For example, in the news Ukraine should temporarily ban the export of scrap metal, so as not to lose industry and jobs –the expert they failed to cite the position of the opposite side. 

No violations of the standard of credibility and separation of facts from comments was seen on the site of RBC-Ukraine also, but there were some violations of the balance standard. For example,  the news “Lyubchenko was accused of involvement in non-payment of taxes for 30 billion hryvnias”  failed to mentioin the position of the Minister himself, and information that the draft resolution of ad-hoc panel, to which the news referred, was withdrawn four days before the publication of the news.  

The Ukrinform website also did not record any violations of the standard of separating facts from comments and credibility, but there were violations related to the balance. In particular, the sample included material with improper labeling "Special project” - In the Dnipropetrovsk region, masters paint bus stops with Petrykivka painting .

  1. “Gordon”

At the third position, with a rate of 88% of news items with no violations of basic professional standards, this was the Gordon website. The edition has improved its indices by 2% compared to the previous monitoring period. In particular, there was neither violations of the standard of separating facts from comments, nor of credibility. The standard of balance was violated in 12% of news, as it was in the previous period.

For example, the balance standard was violated in the news “Lawyer : ECHR declared the judicial reform of 2016-2017 in Ukraine illegal”. This news was somehow manipulative, as ECHR gave no evaluation to the reforms in Ukraine, and its decision concerned the rights of some particular complainant. 

  1. Korrespondent and UNN

The fourth position with figures of 86% of news with no violations of professional standards was shared by Korrespondent and UNN.

Korrespondent website slightly worsened its indices compared to the previous monitoring period, falling by 2%. Violation of the standard of credibility was recorded, in particular in the news “Traffic will be blocked in the center of Kyiv tomorrow: a list of streets”, which cited as a source some "Telegram channel F*ng Kyiv". Anonymous telegram channels are not a reliable source of information for the media. 

The site also recorded a violation of the standard of separating facts from comments. Evaluative judgments were seen in the news about show business stars, for example, “Megan Fox starred in a seductive photo session” . Such materials also violate the principles of journalistic ethics, as they have some objectification of women, which is a kind of sexism.

On the UNN website, which was monitored in terms of standards for the first time, some violations of the balance standard were recorded, in particular in the news “Serhiy Tokarev about launching Roosh: "Our goal is to go beyond everyday life”.  In addition, the site often does not give the name and link to the original source, including in the case of social networks - for this, our experts have reduced the score on credibility. For example, the news “Police official was found hanged in an Odessa park” cited as source "the media and telegram channels." 

  1. Interfax-Ukraine

The Interfax-Ukraine website slightly worsened its performance compared to the previous monitoring period, falling from 88% to 84% of news without violating professional standards. Once more that time, the site does not link to the original source, and does not take screenshots if the news is taken from social networks, for example, as in the news “Kyiv is the only city in Ukraine that meets the planned vaccination against COVID-19 - Deputy Mayor”. Also in the news, “Group of MEPs made a statement on conclusion of an agreement between the United States and Germany on Nord Stream-2”, this is unclear exactly where the text of the statement was published, and there is no reference to it. 

No violations of the standard of separation of facts from comments were recorded on the Interfax-Ukraine website.

  1. 24 channel

82% of news on the Channel 24 website did not have any violation of professional standards, as in the previous monitoring period. The standard of separating facts from comments was most often violated on the site. This applies mainly to tabloid news, such as “Lesya Nikitiuk enchanted in the summer in embroidered shorts: a photo” or “Kitty Spencer at a royal wedding tried on 5 luxurious couture dresses: photos of looks” . 

No violations of the standard of credibility were found on the site. And one of the materials included in the sample was improperly labelled: “Export of scrap metal should be banned until the end of 2023 – Federation of Employers of Ukraine” .

  1. Glavkom

In the seventh place in the ranking of compliance with the standards was the Glavkom online edition with a level of 76% news without violations. In particular, the site had some violations in the category of balance and separation of facts from comments, for example in the news “News from Ukrzaliznytsia: luxury car without air conditioning” . A link to a source on Facebook in the news directs to completely different information - a Facebook statement by the law firm Miller about Gunduz Mammedov.  

Violation of the standard of separation of facts from comments was also observed in the news about show business, for example, “Did your grandma knit it ? The ex-Via Gra highlighted the ample curves wearing original sleeveless” .

The standard of credibility on the site was violated the least, in particular, in the sports news. For example, in the news “Jumper from Luhansk won a medal for Russia at the Olympics”, there is no source of information.

  1. Segodnya

70% of the news on the Segodnya website did not have any violations of basic journalistic standards, which is 4% worse than during the previous monitoring period. 

22% of the materials on the site contained violations of the standards of separation of facts from comments, in particular in the tabloid news:

“Iryna Fedyshyn bared her shoulders in a stylish floral dress at a wedding of relatives: photo”

“Tarzan excited the Web with a new photo with Korolyova: Very beautiful couple”

And in the "news" with astrological predictions, such as “Horoscope for August 2021 for the zodiac sign Aries: preserve your reputation” .

The Segodnya website also shows systematic violations of the balance standard in covering the activities of companies and organizations associated with Rinat Akhmetov, for example , “Gasoline prices have been reduced due to the formula "Rotterdam +" – economist”

  1. TSN and Obozrevatel

TSN's website deteriorated significantly, from 76% without violations to only 64% of news without violations of journalistic standards. This was mainly due to a significant increase in the number of tabloid news, which accounted for a quarter of the monitoring sample and all without exception had violations of the standard of separating facts from comments, for example:

“Emphasized her voluptuous breasts with a bra: Elsa Gosk on the beach”

“Always trendy: Anna Gomonova in stylish swimsuits shows a slender figure”

As usual, TSN foster some gender stereotypes, and not only in the news about "voluptuous breasts". For example, in the news “She went to give herself a damp: in Zaporizhzhya, police found the mother of a toddler, who just escaped to fall out of the window”  the journalist advanced claimto the mother of the baby girl, but nothing was said to the father. According to the father, quoted in the news, "the day before, he and his wife quarreled, and she left home for a walk." It would be logical to ask: if his wife went away after a quarrel the day before and has never returned home, and the kids stayed with father, wasn’t he who left two young children in the apartment, was he?

Obozrevatel also worsened its performance. In the reporting period, 64% of news on this site had no violations of professional standards of journalism. Most often, this was violation of the balance standard: 18% of the news on the resource were unbalanced and had signs of ordering. Example:

Instead of abandoned industrial zone in Kiev, in Podol quarter they will develop modern area with access to the Dnieper

Scrap will be enough for a few days: metallurgists called on government to ban the export of raw materials to save the industry

Dangerous chemicals detected in the river port of Dnipro – mass media

Some violations of the standard of separating facts from comments were found out on the resource. Such news mainly contained the objectification of women, for example:

Nastya Kamenskykh wearng tiny swimsuit stripped naked in the pool. Photo

Assia Akhat, 56, boasted her curves in a teasing swimsuit. Photo

  1. Strana

38% of the news on the Strana website, on which the National Security and Defense Council has imposed sanctions in August, had violations of professional standards, like in the previous monitoring period. In 30% of news items had breaches to the standard of separation of facts from comments, 12% of news had violations of the standard of credibility.

In particular, in the news "War in Donbass: seven Ukrainian servicemen were wounded on Monday" the site reported: "We also reported that the DPR accused the military forces of Ukrainer of shelling Donetsk."

The news "Zozulya is not a patriot, he is a fascist." How Spanish ыщссук аans вisrupted transfer of an Ukrainian to a new team ” had several manipulations and violations of journalistic standards, including the separation of facts from comments and credibility:“ He called the Madrid team fans angry with him “pro-Russian”. But the reason was not they were pro-Russian, but the proble was about Stepan Bandera. Earlier, Zozulya posted a photo on the social network with a portrait of Bandera and the caption "Oh we look both alike." Moreover, he specially made a haircut for the bald temple areas, like the OUN leader ”; "After this scandal, the President Vladimir Zelensky expressed support to Zozulya, which caused a wave of outrage in Ukraine - among those who considered Ze (Zelensky) to be the polat opposite to Petro Poroshenko and so voted for him in the election. But the case of Zozulya was another step of Vladimir Aleksandrovich towards the policy of Petr Alekseevich. What everyone got used to over time, but then, in the first half of Zelensky's presidency, it was still surprising. "

  1. Politeka

The last step in monitoring was taken by the Politeka website, which contained 86% of the materials in violation of professional journalism standards. Only 14% of the news could be conditionally called journalism, and these were reprints from other editions. 

Most of the texts on the resource contain emotional manipulations, evaluative judgments and have problems with balance:

Level of confidence of Kyiv residents in leader of "Ridna Kraina" party Mykola Tomenko has almost doubled

Tina Karol in a tiny T-shirt was intrigued with confession of love: "Oh-la-la, what is going to happen!"

First, scrap is exported from Ukraine, and then Ukrainians will go to work abroad, for foreign factories - expert

Monitoring analysis was conducted in July-August 2021 in 23 national Internet media: obozrevatel.com, korrespondent.net segodnya.ua, 24tv.ua, tsn.ua, strana.ua, pravda.com.ua, politeka.net, rbc .ua, gordonua.com, babel.ua , glavcom.ua, espreso.tv, hromadske.ua, unn.com.ua , nv.ua (M), liga.net (M), ukrinform.ua (M), zn.ua (M), censor.net.ua (M), interfax.com.ua (M), suspilne.media (M), bykvu.com (M). The total sample was 1150 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 of Mass Information and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government or the Internews Network.

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