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Compliance with professional standards in online media. The 1st wave of monitoring in 2021

04.04.2021, 20:42

In the first quarter of 2021, the best score in terms of compliance with journalistic standards (over 96% of news items with any violation of professional standards) were recorded on five websites : "UA:PBC", "Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya” (Mirror of the Week), "Ukrainska Pravda” (Ukrainian Truth), "Bukvy” (Letters) and "Ukrinform".

The worst indices of compliance with professional standards were consistently demonstrated by the Politeka website , where only 18% of the news items did not contain gross violations of the basic standards of professional journalism (and all of them were reposts from other mass media).

These are the findings of the IMI quarterly monitoring in compliance with professional standards in the prominent Ukrainian online media.

According to IMI monitoring, in the first quarter of 2021, the indices of compliance with professional standards as a whole deteriorated by 3.5% compared to the last quarter of 2020. The worst decrease (2%) concerned the standard of separating facts from comments. 

Balance of thoughts and opinions

Adherence to the standard of balance of opinions and points of view has not changed in comparison with the previous monitoring period, the decline was 0.5%.

No violations of this standard were recorded on the sites "UA:PBC" and "Dzerkalo tyzhdnya".

The most part of unbalanced news came out on the sites of "Politeka" and "Segodnya".

Credibility

The level of compliance with the standard of credibility decreased by 1% compared to the previous monitoring period. The sites “Novoe Vremya”, Channel 24, RBC-Ukraine, Censor, “Ukrainska Pravda”, “Bukvy”, and Ukrinform had no infringes to the standard of credibility.

The lowest level of compliance with the standard of credibility is recorded on the sites "Politeka" and "Strana".

Separation of facts from comments

The largest decrease in the three analyzed standards was recorded as to the standard of separation of facts from comments : by 2% compared to the previous monitoring period. On average, 11% of all analyzed news violated this standard. 

  1. The sites with the best score of compliance with the standards were: "Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya", "Ukrainska Pravda", "Ukrainsky tyzhden”, UA:PBC, "Bukvy" and Ukrinform

The vast majority of news on these resources was written without any violations of professional standards of journalism. On average, compliance with the standards on these sites was 96.4% in the first quarter of 2021. This is 0.5% lower than in the fourth quarter of 2020. The only site on which had improved its score was “UA:PBC”. All other top online editions had the level of compliance with the standards, which has not changed. 

  1. "Liga" and NV

The second position with a rate of 94% of materials without violations of professional standards was taken by the sites "Liga" and NV. 

For the first time in the last few years, the Liga’s site has dropped from first to second position in the ranking of compliance with journalistic standards. In particular, the experts recorded unmarked story that violated the balance standard and separated the facts from the comments: " How to make a strength training plan: the correct order of exercises. Advised by the coach ." Adherence to the standard of credibility also deteriorated somewhat: the site posted news with a mention of social networks as a source, but without hyperlinks and screenshots.

Instead, the NV website improved its performance by 4% compared to the previous monitoring period and rose from fourth to second position with a compliance rate of 94%. In 4% of the materials NV violated the standard of separating facts from comments, mainly due to evaluative judgments in the headlines. As, for example, in the news " This is a breakthrough. Honda has introduced a Legend sedan with autopilot 3 levels of autonomy ", they failed to name the source of the news, although they put a link to it. The experts also had some questions about the balance in the article " Social networks call for saving the Central Hippodrome of Ukraine. What's happening to it?"

  1. "Censor" and "RBC-Ukraine"

With 92% of news containing violations of professional standards, the third position of the rating was shared by the sites "Censor" and "RBC-Ukraine".

The Censor website deteriorated by 2% its indices, compared to the previous monitoring period and slid to third position. The resource did not record any breaches of credibility or separation of facts from comments, but several unbalanced news items got to the sample. For example, " In 2018, the Ministry of Defense refused to purchase UOF12 shots at a price almost twice as low, the current leadership signed a contract - Aryev."

The indicators of the RBC-Ukraine website have not changed. The resource contains materials with signs of the order, which revealed violations of the balance standard: " Authorities were called to solve the problems of green energy to implement agreements with the EU " or " Poroshenko handed over oxygen concentrators to Chernivtsi hospital, where there was a fire ." No violations of the standard of credibility and separation of facts from comments were found on the site.

  1. "Gordon" and "Korrespondent"

The fourth position with a rate of 88% of news without violating professional standards was taken by the sites "Gordon" and "Korrespondent".

Both sites deteriorated its results compared to the previous monitoring period. "Gordon" worsened its figures by 4%, and "Correspondent" did by 2%.

14% of the materials on the Gordon website contained violations of the balance standard, such as materials with signs of lobbyism such as " After the increase in excise duties on tobacco products for electric heating, the excise tax on them is higher in Ukraine than in 15 EU countries - expert ." The credibility and separation of facts from the comments is violated in the article "The majority of Ukrainians would vote for Zelensky at the presidential election - a poll by " Rating ".

The “Korrespondent”’s website has been most often violating the standards of credibility and separation of facts from comments. The ordered news in favor of Mykhailo Poplavsky is also found on the site:

This material contains some non-attributed to anyone evaluative judgments: "a bright remake", he "surprised with an outstanding image" and so on.

  1. Interfax-Ukraine

Interfax-Ukraine is on the fifth step with 87% of news that do not contain violations. The site deteriorated its indices by 3%, as compared to the previous monitoring period.

In 10% of the materials on the site, the experts recorded violations of the balance standard. As, for example, in such materials that had  signs of being ordered: " More than 100 employees of the Dobrobut medical network got vaccinated against COVID-19 within the framework of the national campaign ", " Lustdorf presented a drinking porridge under the Selyanskaya TM". 

No violations of the standard of separating facts from comments were found on the site.

  1. 24 channel

With a rate of 84% of materials without violating professional standards, the sixth position in the ranking is occupied by the site of Channel 24. The site improved its performance by 2% compared to the previous monitoring period. The publication most often violated the standard of separating facts from comments, such as in the headline with an unattributed quote, " Weak and inefficient government: year of Shmygal'sзкшьу-prime-ministership." At the same time, the site demonstrated compliance with the 100% credibility standard. 

  1. TSN

TSN has improved its position in the ranking of compliance with standards (76% of news with no violations). The standard of separating facts from comments was most often violated on the site: in 24% of materials.

The site employed some evaluative judgments both in headlines and in the texts, for example in the news about the president's spokesperson Yulia Mendel: "extravagant earrings", "flaunted a gift", "lifts the spirits of every woman".

Also some evaluative judgments are also seen in the show business news: " Kateryna Buzhynska tried on a beautiful embroidered dress ."

The resource also published news in violation of the standard of credibility, such as astrological predictions from journalists. 

  1. "Segodnya"

The Segodnya website has significantly worsened its score and sank in the scale to the eighth position of the rating. 30% of the news on the site had violations of professional standards. 

The resource increased number of show business news, which contained some evaluative judgments: " Taisiya Povaliy released the album" Special words. Confession "and sang about haters - video ", " Max Barsky spoke about sex and relationships ".

Also some news with signs of order were identified: " Reform of Ukrzaliznytsia follows an effective European model - expert " , " Moneyveo has more than 1,020,000 clients: what is so attractive in the company ", " Our" Zakhar Berkut "was called to Japan!" 

The Segodnya website best adhered to the standard of reliability : by 92%.

  1. “Obozrevatel”

The Obozrevatel website slightly worsened its performance: from 68% to 66% of news with no violations. Most of them were the breaches of the balance standard (22% of materials failed to be well-balanced).

The site had a number of news with signs of order, such as " Poplavsky shot a clip in the style of Hollywood musicals of the twentieth century ",Ukrainian railways’s reform is slow in coming, but by European standards - an expert ", " Kyiv residents await of taxi trip discounts and gifts on occasion of March 8 : how to get it".

These materials broke the standard of balance, and in some of them did the standard of separation of facts from comments.

In the news " Vaccination with residual doses of Covishild: Ukrainians revealed what were the symptoms" the social networks of little-known people who talked about their health was the source of information.

  1. "Strana"

The biggest sliding during the monitoring period was demonstrated by the Strana website, where only 56% of the materials did not contain violations of journalistic standards.

The number of materials with violations of the standard of separating facts from comments has increased on the resource. In particular, the site published a number of news with violations of professional standards covering the sanctions against Kolomoisky, for example, " US sanctions targeting Kolomoisky were imposed for his work as head of the Dnepropetrovsk regional state administaration ." In the background to these news, the site put the same manipulative estimation from the Telegrams channel "Politics of the country", " the grounds for imposing of sanctions the US Secretary of State Blynken named Kolomoysky’s activities while in position of the Head of the Dnipropetrovsk region in 2014-2015 respectively. The most interesting is that just in time of fulfilling that activity, Kolomoysky was in good standing with the Americans and was considered the man who stopped the "Russian Spring." The ways of the State Department are inscrutable", - the news said.

On the website of "Strana", the experts recorded among others the violations: the news based on non-attributed to anyone evaluative judgements from the Telegrams channel "Politics of the country," such as " US sanctions against Kolomoyskoho push Zelensky to an open conflict with olyharch - opinion " or "Sternenko came back in custody without a murder sentence. The hearing was postponed to March 19. "

The resource also had some manipulative news with features of Russian narratives. For example, the sample included two news with incitement to hatred over the language issue: " In Lviv, musicians were beaten because of the song in Russian”. "Activists "called for violence against" Moscow bitches"  and" Ex-People's Deputy Barna found in Kiev "secessionists" and made a language scandal with the shopwoman in the store ." Both materials had violations of the standard of credibility, separation of facts from comments and balance standard. 

In the news " Ternopil Stadium got named after Roman Shukhevych" the background was supplemented by an unbalanced saying without a clearly identified source: "According to a number of researchers, Shukhevych was involved in the mass killings of Poles and Jews during UPA activities in western Ukraine."

  1. "Politeka"

The last step in monitoring was taken by the Politeka website, which contains 81% of news that violated professional journalism standards. Only 19% of the materials could be conditionally called journalism, and these were reposts from other publications. 

Most of the headlines of the texts on the resource had some excessive emotionality or evaluative judgments:

The virus continues to claim life of Ukrainians, oxygen devices do not save: A whole school class…

Tempting Demi Rose wearing transparent lace allowed to see the most hot, hot shot: Beast

The explosion of thundered in the restaurant, that had not cater to Freymut, the streets were covered with smoke: what is known about the victims

The village near Kyiv became an intergalactic station: picture

Ukrainian Kardashian in a transparent black ensemble hiked her skirt, revealing underwear: legs need to be longer

The site is frequently publishing ordered materials, black PR including. 

Monitoring analysis was conducted in March 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, implemented by the international organization Internews Network. The contents are the sole responsibility of the Institute for Mass Information and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government or the Internews Network.

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