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

05.01.2022, 20:49

The highest level of compliance with professional journalistic standards for the fourth quarter of 2021 (over 96% of news items with no breach of any professional standard) was displayed by the following online editions: Suspilne, Dzerkalo tyzhdnya, Liga, Ukrayinska Pravda, Babel, Hromadske.

The worst indices of compliance with professional standards are consistently demonstrated by the Politeka website, where only 22% of the news items had no breaches of the basic standards of professional journalism (and most of them were reposts from other media).

These are the key figures of the quarterly IMI monitoring for compliance with professional standards in prominent Ukrainian online media. The monitoring took place in December 2021.

Balance of thoughts and points of view

Compliance with the standard of balance of opinions and points of view has deteriorated, compared to the previous monitoring period, by almost 2% and accounted for 92.5% on average among all surveyed media.

No violations of this standard were recorded on six sites: Liga, Suspilne, Hromadske, Babel, Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya, Korrespondent.

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

Violations of the balance standard occur primarily in materials with signs of ordering or political manipulation. The vast majority of unbalanced materials promote someone's interests.

Certainty

The level of compliance with the standard of credibility, compared to the previous monitoring period, has not changed and is 94.6%. The sites Liga, Babel, Dzerkalo Tyzhnya, Ukrainska Pravda, Hromadske and Ukrinform adhered by 100% to the standard of credibility.

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

Ukrainian sites that violated this standard were failing to cite sources at all in their news (especiallythe news on the hearings in the MH17 case, which took place in the Netherlands), and there were also news from unknown social media accounts.

Separation of facts from comments

Compliance with the standard of separating facts from comments has deteriorated by almost 3% compared to the previous monitoring period and is 87.5% on average among all surveyed media.

No violations of this standard were recorded on the sites of Suspilne, Hromadske, Liga, Ukrayinska Pravda, Ukrinform and Gordon.

The lowest key figures for compliance with this standard were recorded on the sites of Politeka  and Strana.

This standard is most often violated in the stories with manipulations, pro-Russian propaganda and show business news.

* Starting from the year 2022, IMI is going to revise a selection of sites to be regularly monitored and is going to expand some approaches to the methodology and regularity of evaluation. Moreover, some accounts of the media on social networks will be included in the evaluation according to the White List standards.

  1. Sites with the highest standards of compliance: Suspilne, Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya, Liga, Ukrayinska Pravda, Babel, Hromadske

The vast majority of the news on these resources were with no violations of professional standards of journalism. On average, compliance with the standards on these sites was 98% in the third quarter of 2021. Compared to the previous quarter, the average rate of compliance with the standards on the sites, wich are the leaders of the rating, has not changed.

  1. Ukrinform and Interfax-Ukraine.

The Interfax-Ukraine website has significantly improved its performance compared to the previous monitoring period, and for the first time it reached the second place in the IMI ranking. During the monitoring period, the site improved its compliance with the standard of credibility and began to add links on social networks from which the news was taken. At the same time, there were some news items with no links to other media and resources that they used as sources. For example, in the news “In Italy, COVID-19 incidence is going up”, the source is cited too much generally: "the Italian television".

The Ukrinform website observed by 100% the standards of credibility and separation of facts from comments, but 94% of the materials displayed violation of balance principle. In particular, the sample included the news item with an improper labeling "Special project":

“Teenager develops device that will monitor car readings in the absence of driver”

  1. Espresso and UNN

The third place in the ranking with 92% of the news without violations was taken by the sites Espresso and UNN. Compared to the previous monitoring, the Espresso site dropped by two positions and deteriorated one’s readings by 4%. Instead, the UNN website rose one step and improved its performance by 6%.

During the monitoring period, the balance standard was most often violated by the Espresso website. For example, the resource contained the news item favoring of Petro Poroshenko (“Petro Poroshenko met with the Vice-Marshal of the Senate Michał Kaminski and members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Senate of the Republic of Poland”). Experts also found some questionable news item wich failed to cite any source: “Bila Tserkva CHP is being raided by Investstohills Vesta”. All the rest of news items of Espresso abode by the standard of credibility by 100%. 

The UNN website best adhered to the balance standard (98%), and most often the online edition violated the standard of separating facts from comments. For example, in the news “Restoration of the Odessa Art Museum suspended: previously, bid was blocked by odious Tarpan’s the company” used the evaluative judgment "odious" and the assumption "probably" was attributed to anyone.

The website also had some dubious news items with violations of standards targeting National Anti-Corruption Butreau (NACB): “Expert named the three most dirty cases of NACB and explained why detectives are getting rid of their investigations to the National Police”.

  1. Novoe Vremya (NV)

NV's website deteriorated its readings, compared to the previous monitoring period. The site best adhered to standards of credibility and separating facts from comments. The monitoring sample of news included a number of materials wich were marked improperly (under the heading "Company News"). Such labeling may not be clear enough to the audience, according to IMI experts.  

Milka to support  national junior ski championship in Bukovel 

How to choose Christmas present for child – Hasbro’s online test 

  1. Gordon, RBC-Ukraine, Censor, Korrespondent

Four resources took the fifth place in the rating with 88% of news items with no violations: Gordon, RBC-Ukraine, Censor and Korrespondent.

Gordon's performance has not changed compared to the previous monitoring period. Violations of the balance standard were most often recorded on this site : in 10% of the news items. For example, the news of “Concorde Capital founder Mazepa about Gerus: the whole market says this is my project. But I say no”. This news is accompanied by a very extensive background, which stated that "the only victims of the formula" Rotterdam + " are these two ferroalloy plants of Ihor Kolomoisky – n/ed IMI ) ." At the same time, according to Radio Liberty, the formula for calculating the wholesale market price of electricity, informally known as "Rotterdam +", is currently the subject of sharp controversy over whether it has led to losses and a number of considerations. In particular, the case on this formula is being investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine. 

RBC-Ukraine and Censor worsened their performance compared to the previous monitoring period. 

Violations of the balance standard were most often recorded on the RBC-Ukraine website. The resource contained materials with signs of ordering in favor of various political forces that lacked balance and background (for example, “Nakonechny: the Minsk agreements for peace in Donbass need to be implemented”). The site also contained the news with violation of the standard of credibility: “Center for the Protection of the Disabled in Odessa asks law enforcement to stop raiding the organization”, later this news was refuted by the Odessa Prosecutor's Office (and the same material was published on "Censor"). 

The Censor website best adhered to the standard of separating facts from comments: judgments were clearly attributed to specific speakers, and facts were presented without evaluation. However, the sample included materials with signs of an order in favor of, in particular, Petro Poroshenko: “Michail Kaminsky: Poroshenko is a very reliable partner of the West and defender of Ukraine”. The news “Knockout! Get these stupid fellows out!" : the police drove out two unvaccinated passengers from the Odessa-Kiev bus” the hate speech was also revealed : “As to Censor.net, because of stance of antivaxxers, the bus was late by an hour and a half”.

No violations of the balance standard were recorded on the Korrespondent website, and the sample did not include materials with signs of order in favor of certain political forces. Only 2% of the news on the site had breaches of credibility. Instead, most of the Korrespondent's violations related to the standard of separating facts from comments. Evaluative epithets ("scandalous", "spicy", "excited") are often used in the news. Mostly this violation concerned tabloid news with signs of sexism. 

Dua Lipa posted some spicy photos wearing lingerie 

Karol told about her relationship with Wellboy - Korrespondent.net (back to the news -  Tina Karol excited with pictures of hers wearing bodysuits and collants)

Compared to the previous monitoring period, the site's performance has not changed significantly.

  1. Channel 24

Channel 24's website slightly worsened its performance compared to the previous monitoring period (by 2%). Balance and credibility standards were best met on the site (by as much as 98%). The vast majority of violations concerned the standard of separating facts from comments:

With her son, but without Pavlik: offended Repyahova wanted to celebrate the New Year in Egypt 

More sophistication: 3 unexpected trends in 2022 manicure

Zlata Ognevich excited network with a luxurious dress for 22 thousand hryvnias: a spectacular photo 

The sample included news from show business, lifestyle and other sections, where evaluative judgments were actively used: "exquisite", "luxurious", "spectacular", "excited the network" and so on.

  1. Bukvy

The site of Bukvy dropped from the first positions of the rating to seventh place. 78% of the materials on the site hadn’t any violation of professional standards. Most violations were recorded concerned the balance category and the best, the site abode by the standard of separation of facts from comments. In particular, the sample included unbalanced materials on political issues, such as the news in favor of Petro Poroshenko and the European Solidarity Party:

The Vice Marshal of Polish Senate warned against persecution of opposition in Ukraine 

Local councillors of Lviv regional council demand Zelensky to stop persecuting opposition 

Or with criticism of the government:

What is wrong with new decree on foreign policy – lawyer’s comment

The President's Office announced another increase in gas tariffs 

In the background text of the news item, “Ministry of Digital transformation announced when and how Ukrainians will be able to buy drugs for a "COVID" thousand”, they presented an assumption as the fact “vaccinated Ukrainians  who got 1000 UAH under the program of “E-support”  started saling it for cash”. The assumption placed in the header of a separate news item is based on the letter of the National bank on the procedure of payement of allocation to vaccinated Ukrainians. 

  1. TSN

The eighth position in the ranking is taken by the TSN website is with a rate of 68% of news items written without violating professional standards.

In 26% of the materials on the site, the standard of separating facts from comments was violated. Mostly these were sexism and objectification of women in the news items:

German model appeared in public wearing transparent dress with revealing neckline 

Show business news: Marichka Padalko in a black miniskirt stunned with a slender figure - video 

The site also published the news from "local telegram channels" with hate speech about "anti-vaxxers":

Odessa news: antivaxxers made riot on the bus Odessa - Kiev - video  

A number of news on the site were grounded on messages from unknown users on social networks. As, for example, in the news “News of Zaporizhzhya: The network showed shore in the Sea of ​​Azov teeming with juvenile fishes”.

  1. Obozrevatel and Glavkom

The ninth position with 64% of news written without violating professional standards is occupied by two sites : "Glavkom" and "Obozrevatel".

The Obozrevatel website did not change its performance compared to the previous monitoring period. The journalists of the resource best adhere to the standard of credibility (92% of news did not contain violations).  

20% of the news on Obozrevatel had violations of the standard of separation of facts from comments. As on other resources, this violation was recorded in the news about show business and lifestyle.

Odd traditions of royal family on Christmas - photo

The site also had a number of materials with violations of the balance standard in favor of various political forces:

The Vice Marshal of Polish Senate warned Ukrainian authorities against persecuting Poroshenko

Ukrainians consider Tymoshenko as the most effective crisis manager: expert explained request for premiership of Batkivshchyna’s leader

Economic passport is a financial pyramid looming default for Ukraine - Ariev

The Glavkom website complied best with the standard of credibility (96%). Most violations were recorded in the category of "separation of facts from comments". It should be noted that unlike most other sites, which assumed evaluative judgments mainly in tabloid news, Glavkom added non-attributed assessments to materials on socio-political issues. 

By the end of the year, banks will start issuing plastic cards for "Vova’s Thousand"  ("Vova’s Thousand") 

The presentation of the draft Hydrogen Strategy of Ukraine ("significant", "long-awaited") took place.

In the news “Princess of Monaco gives signs: again, problems with her husband (photo)” the source of information is "rumors".

The imbalance in favor of the opposition is recorded in political news, for example:

"They're going crazy" The expert explained in detail what happens to the psyche of "servants"

Economic passport of Ukrainians is soap bubble which can lead to default - MP

Zelensky caused real damage to relations between Ukraine and the West 

  1. Segodnya

Segodnya has worsened its performance by 22% compared to the previous period, and this is one of the biggest declines recorded in this monitoring period.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the resource took 10th place with only 48% of materials written without violating professional standards. More than half of the materials on the resource had violations of one or another standard of journalism.

52% of the news on the site had violations of the standard of separating facts from comments.

In particular, violations were recorded in materials on political issues. For example, the material  "Get ripped off" because of "Zelensky’s thousand": how not to lose their savings by mistake has signs of fake news: it is based on a post on Facebook of some "Tatiana Petrovna" with a photo of a dog on the avatar. 

In the news “They close you in toilet and kick out naked in the street: in Poltava 8th-graders staged hazing at school” contains only the position of the injured party. In addition, the news provides data that can be used to identify children who violate journalistic ethics. It will be recalled that news about minors is a very sensitive topic and their writing should be treated with special care, it is necessary to weigh well the benefits and prejudice of disclosing such information. 

The material “Daria Beloded showed ring on her hand” based on the assumptions of the journalist, which was made from only one uninformative photo on the social network.

  1. Strana

One of the biggest declines in the ranking was recorded on the website Strana: compliance with standards fell by as much as 24%. As of the monitoring period, only 38% of the materials on this site did not contain violations of professional standards. 

In particular, the share of "recursive news" on the basis of judgments and assumptions of the anonymous telegram channel "Country’s Policy" has increased. 

The site posted fake information about the alleged plans of Ukraine and the United States for the use of chemical weapons in the east and news within the pro-Russian narrative of "external governance", for example: 

The DPR claims that the Americans brought to Donbass chemical weapons that cause paralysis

Following US State Department, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine reacted to Shoihu's statement about provocations with chemical weapons in Donbass 

The Kremlin's rhetorics saying that Ukraine is to blame for the escalation was promoted without refutation:

Belarus stated that the Ukrainian military is preparing for military operation at the border

In general, the site actively disseminated the point of view of the Russian authorities without balance and backgrounds with the point of view of the Ukrainian side:

"Do the Russians long for war?" Lavrov addressed the "hot heads" in Ukraine

Lavrov offers NATO chief to resign because he "comes up short"

In the news “Italian PM said that the EU cannot in no way impose sanctions against Russia” in the headline is a manipulative generalization, because it was about the gas sector. 

The site also actively criticizes the government and the situation in Ukraine in general, for example:

In 2021, Ukrainians saw a significant hike in prices and a deterioration in the country's international image

From mid-January, all print media in the country must switch to Ukrainian (in the news pro-Russian narrative "law on total Ukrainization", the headline contains a fake news). 

  1. Politeka

More than three-quarters of Politeka's news items contained violations of professional standards.

For example, the standard of separating facts from comments on the site was violated in 60% of the materials, ie more than half of the materials contained evaluative judgments. 

Driver of trolleybus got addicted to the phone while driving, Ukrainians are angry: the very seconds decide 

Coronavirus is raging in Kyiv, dozens of victims and thousands of patients: disappointing data

A new disaster struck Kyiv, among the affected children: in just two days ... 

IMI experts emphasize that such news unjustifiably increases the degree of emotional tension in society, which can provoke manifestations of aggression in real life.

The site posted materials with signs of political orders from various camps, but mostly criticized the government:

Ruslan Bortnyk on Ukraine's fate in the international arena: "Everyone is talking about price"

Economic passport of the Ukrainian is a financial pyramid which loom default for Ukraine - MP 

Polina Raitenko: Real opposition to Zelensky is Medvedchuk, who did not flee Ukraine and is fighting against the government 

Monitoring analysis was conducted in December 2021 in 23 national online 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 

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 content isunder 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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