Finita la ecology: jeansa, polluted water, forest fires and a few initiatives. What do Ukrainian media say about ecology?
In Ukraine mass media, only 2% of stories spoke of ecology. This figure was not always the case. In 2019, 1% of articles in Ukrainian mass media related to the topic of ecology. At the time, mass media was actively writing about Greta Thunberg, fauna, environmental bills and electric cars.
This year's monitoring mostly had materials related to the environmental problems of natural resources and the consequences of disasters: forest fires, water pollution, landfills and chemical pollution. Moreover, 4% of ecology materials have signs of ordering.
These are the results of an analysis of 19 online media conducted by the NGO "Institute of Mass Information" in June-July 2021 *.
HOW DID MASS MEDIA COVER ECOLOGY?
The largest percentage of news items on environment was recorded on the Suspilne website: 17% of the total sample on the environment during the monitoring period. Most often they wrote about water pollution, waste issues and environmental initiatives. The different aspects of the topic of environmental initiatives is due to the fact that the regional branches of the Suspilne are used to generate content for the central news wire. Nine out of ten texts concerned Ukraine.
In second place in terms of the number of mentions of ecology were Obozrevatel and Ukrinform ( 9.1% of the total sample of ecology in the monitoring period).
The Obozrevatel most often spoke of electric vehicles, flora / fauna and water pollution. Two thirds of the materials concerned Ukraine, the rest was about foreign developments.
As to the geographical distribution of news in Ukrinform, these were almost equally the ecology news on Ukraine (54.3%) and foreign news (45.7%). As to the themes, the ecology content was related to environmental bills, forest fires, water pollution and environmental initiatives.
In third place in percentage this was TSN (8.1% of the total sample of ecology in the monitoring period). On TSN, 50% of the materials concerned Ukraine, 39.3% were the news of international level and 10% of stories were about ecology in Russia. Most of the materials spoke of forest fires, electric vehicles, chemical pollution and water pollution.
Slightly less the ecology was covered on Channel 24 (7.1%) and Politeka (6.9% of the total sample on the environment during the monitoring period). Concerning Channel 24, water pollution, forest fires, flora / fauna and environmental initiatives were most frequent themes they covered. Six out of ten materials concerned Ukraine, the rest was about foreign news.
In Politeka, the thematically, the stories covered most often the issues of energy and water pollution. Geographically, all materials on ecology concerned Ukraine. More than half of the textss on ecology had the characteristics of jeansa. We have described this in more detail in the section below.
At the same time, the least mentions of ecology in the monitoring period were recorded in Strana (2.3%), Interfax (2%), Bukvy (1.3%) and Liga (0.8% of the total sample of ecology during the monitoring period).
SCALE AND LEVEL OF NEWS
During the research, three levels of news on the topic of ecology were seen.
68% of all texts concerned Ukraine and the regions. Materials of this level most often covered water pollution, bills and landfills. The leader of coverage of environmental news about Ukraine was Suspilne.
30.7% of all materials were about international ecology. In this level, the media actively wrote about forest fires, chemical pollution and climate change. Most of the materials about foreign news were published by Ukrinform and Obozrevatel.
1.3% of all materials spoke of the Russian Federation. The news about ecologic issues in Russia spoke of forest fire in Yakutia and a chlorine leak into the city's water supply system. Most often, materials about the Russian Federation were posted on TSN.
Every third news item (31%) related to ecology was reprinted from other media. 3/4 of them are cited foreign news agencies and media.
Every fifth material (20.6%) referred to an official source. In 18% of the materials, the media recorded that these materials were their own, ie they could also be prepared by regional correspondents. Most often, such materials appear in the media, which have regional branches and beyond the print press edition, they are broadcasters: Suspilne, TSN.
In 5.8% of materials about ecology, the source of materials was the press service of the Ministry of State Emergency Service of Ukraine. And only 4.8% of news employed social media as sources.
HOW DID THEY PROMOTED ECOLOGY FOR MONEY?
You can endlessly discuss how ethical it is to place sponsored journalistic pieces on ecology. On the one hand, the topic is essential because the quality of life of people and all living organisms depends proportionally on the index of well-being of the region's ecology. It can also be noted that the editors will receive some extra funds for the placement of advertising materials and it is financially good for them.
However, not all media adhere to ethics and journalism standards when publishing such materials. For the most part, the media do not label materials properly, according to the Law on Advertising.
You can sympathize and try to defend that the media, when posting such materials of a custom nature are ashamed that others find out that they now have money (* sarcasm *), or do not know how to properly place the material in accordance with the Law "On Advertising" (* sarcasm №2 *). In fact, mass media do it meaningly. There are several reasons for this. This is financially advantageous for the editorial office, as it is more expensive for an advertiser to place ordered material without proper "Advertising" labeling. This means that the editorial office receives more money and the advertiser receives a "journalistic piece" instead of "advertising". However, in this case, both sides lose: the audience understands that the media beckons everyone, and the business that promotes its services is already unethical with the audience and potential customers.
IMI experts recorded that 4% of the materials during the monitoring period showed signs of jeansa. Most of these materials came out on the sites Politeka, Censor, Obozrevatel.
Most of the texts that had the characteristics of sponsored journalism were published on the site Politeka. It seems that apart from the news about naked show business stars and jeansa, no more information is published on this resource.
112.ua has never stood aside from trends and the agenda, so it predictably that the expertise on the environmental topic was expressed by the head of the "youth wing of OPFL” Marchevsky:
IMI experts also recorded stories where eco-activist Lyudmila Tsyganok entered the picture.
In fact, previous monitoring of activists in ecology revealed that media have been mentioning Tsyganok most often. At the time, IMI experts also labeled these texts as such having the characteristics of jeansa.
Besides that, Ukrinform website had some texts which were improperly labeled.
The texts were marked "Quality of Life" and were prepared with the assistance of Yuri Kosyuk MHP agro industrial holding. It should be noted that the Ukrinform website has a separate section marked "Quality Life". However, while navigating, the page has any indication that it is funded by MHP. This can only be read when switching to a separate news item.
Regarding improper labeling, the editorial office informs that " marked as "Advertising" and "PR", as well as texts in "Press Releases" section are published as advertising, the advertiser shall not be responsible for its content."
However, not a word is said about the “Quality of Life” Special Project.
Only one text within the monitoring period was correctly marked "Promoted content". It was published by Liga website.
The diversity of environmental issues in the media varies each year. This is due not only to the season, but also to the fact that environmental problems and issues are multiplied quarterly, and they need to be addressed or at least kept frozen.
The monitoring * showed that 15.2% of the materials were related to the issue of water pollution. The newsbreak for that topic was the publication of researchers that 161 pollutants were found in the Dnieper. All these things are of synthetic nature and significantly exceed the permissible values: pesticides of agricultural type, waste from pharmaceuticals and substances used in perfumery (synthetic musk, heavy metals: zinc and copper, as well as mercury).
Moreover, the media published news about the Black Sea pollution, the reason being the careless management of cargos. As a result, prejudice of UAH 65 million were caused.
As Suspilne has its regional offices, it has the opportunity to send the news in cases of water pollution in the regions. Other media we have been monitoring did not report about these cases.
In addition to the fact that 93% of the materials on water pollution concerned Ukraine, there were isolated mentions of international environmental problems, including in Russia.
In most articles (57.6%), journalists used official sources as the primary source. Most mentions on this topic were published by Suspilne, Obozrevatel and Channel 24.
The topic of forests was covered in 13.2% of the total number of news items included in the monitoring. The following media most often wrote about the forest, in particular about forest fires: RBC-Ukraine, Suspilne, Ukrinform and TSN. Geographically speaking, 90% of the texts covered international ecological issues. In this topic, the media wrote about forest fires in Canada, Cyprus and Russia's Yakutia.
In 10% of the materials on Ukraine, the materials related to deforestation and forests damaged by natural phenomena:
Most often, mass media used information from other media as the primary source of news about forests (76%), also turned to official sources (8%) and cited newsbreaks from social networks (6%).
Every 11th (9.3%) news item concerned environmental bills. For example, in 2019, experts recorded 12.4% of content on environmental bills. During the monitoring period, two main newsbreaks were seen: upgrading of pensions to Chernobyl veterans, as well as the news that the government plans to allocate funds to improve the quality of drinking water.
The news items on this issue, the media often referred to the official source of information. In addition, most often the bills have been covered by the following media: Ukrinform, Censor and Segodnya.
8.5% of environmental materials related to landfills (out of the number of environmental materials included in the monitoring). It would be great if 8.5% of environmental materials related to modernization or environmental solutions for waste sorting and composting. However, the materials included in the monitoring were about environmental issues. The main informational reason on this topic are fires in landfills:
Also in the media landscape, there were some stories about illegal disposal sites:
As source of information, the most of stories cited is messages from the press service of the State Emergency Service (52.9%), slightly less there were reports citing official sources (23.5%), and reprints from other media (11.8%). Not without reason, that half of the news items cited as source of information the firefighters, as they are the only ones who fought the effects of burning and disorder in landfills. Suspilne, Ukrinform and RBC-Ukraine are the media that covered this topic more frequently than other media we have been monitoring.
8% of the materials on ecology concerned chemical pollution of nature. Most of the content on chemical pollution was prepared by RBC-Ukraine, TSN and Gordon. 93% of materials on this topic were related to international events. This is due to the fact that in the Gulf of Mexico there was a gas leak on the submarine oil pipeline of the state oil company Pemex, as a result of which the surface of the Atlantic Ocean caught fire.
In addition, there was an explosion at a refinery in Romania. According to the country's Minister of Environment Tanchos Barney, the environmental damage can be quite serious.
The media also reported on the explosion that occurred on an oil platform in the Caspian Sea. Video of the catastrophe was published on social networks, but the official representative of the state oil company of Azerbaijan SOCAR Ibrahim Ahmedov said that there were no accidents on offshore platforms and industrial facilities under the direct control of the company, and put forward his version that it was " an eruption mud volcano . "
6.5% stories mentioned power industry. Nine out of ten materials on this topic covered Ukraine. The media mostly covered the topic of green energy and "environmental policy". Experts note that a significant part of the materials on this topic had signs of ordering.
In addition, the materials with the features of jeansa concerned not only "green energy", but also messages from DTEK:
Regarding sources of information, two thirds of the materials were commented by experts and in 20% of cases the media referred to other materials. Politeka is front-runner in covering this topic.
6.5% of the materials were related to environmental initiatives. For example, in 2019, 10% of content was dedicated to environmental initiatives. The diversity concerned not only the type of how these initiatives were implemented (festivals, performances by activists, art projects), but also geography (Dnipro, Kherson, Khmelnytsky, Uzhhorod, Lviv).
Only 5 out of 19 media outlets prepared stories on this topic: Suspilne, Channel 24, Ukrinform, TSN and Korrespondent. In 32% of cases, the media had their own source of information, in 20% they turned to official sources. And only in 16% of the materials the sources of information were activists. 96% of materials about environmental initiatives concerned Ukraine, and only 4% - foreign news.
6.2% of the materials were related to climate change. Most often, the media wrote about the warming in Antarctica and the disappearance of the lake due to the effects of climate change:
In addition to the actual news on climate change, it is worth noting that the Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya editorial board translated constructive materials on climate change for its readers:
NV has prepared its own podcast on climate change:
Most often, the topic of climate change was covered by Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya, Segodnya and NV. As for sources, the media most often took information from international organizations 54%. This is not surprising, as 87% of climate change material is foreign news.
In 4.1% of the materials were references to electric transport. This topic can be divided into two areas: the first concerned electric cars and their inspection.
The second direction was electric scooters topic. Because at least five businesses that provide scooter rental services have come to Ukraine in the last two years. At the same time, this is not regulated in Ukraine. On the one hand, scooters are a great individual mode of transport that does not harm nature, but due to the actions of drivers and the silence of law, there are incidents of injuries.
Most of the content about electric vehicles was prepared by the Obozrevatel editorial office. In 38% of materials, the source of information was business companies. This is due to the fact that the media published information about electric cars referring to company officials.
In addition, only 2.8% of materials spoke about the environmental issues of Donbass. The newsbreak for this news was the material prepared by RBC-Ukraine journalists with the Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov.
The largest number of texts on this topic was recorded on RBC-Ukraine, as journalists overviewed other stories, and other media simply reprinted other media covering this topic.
At the same time, it should be noted that the media should not be expected to have a great coverage of the environmental issue of Donbass, as the topic of the occupied territories in general has a feeble percentage in the media. And the topic of ecology is too narrow and not popular among newsrooms, although it is necessary and important for everyone.
As for plastic, in the Ukrainian media only 2.1% of materials covered this topic. The main reason for it is that the EU has banned plastic utensils.
Ukraine has not yet banned it, but at the local level, local communities decide how to ban the sale of plastic products.
In addition, NV and Suspilne have prepared constructive materials for readers about the harm and how to minimize the use of plastic in life:
One third of materials about plastics concerned Ukraine (33%), respectively 67% covered foreign facts about plastics.
Also during the monitoring, experts recorded some single stories on drinking water problems (1.8%), research (1.6%) and air pollution (1.3%).
WHAT DO ECOLOGICAL EXPERTS SAY?
Natalia Gozak, Executive Director of “Ecodia”, named the three biggest environmental problems that, in her opinion, are currently relevant in Ukraine: "The first is the lack of proper control, the inevitability of punishment. In general, environmental offenses are considered of a very low priority. Second, the impact of industry. We have outdated and unmodernized (industry –n/tr) since Soviet times. To begin with the PCH plants, various entreprises affecting the ecology with its waste. In general, the peculiarity of Ukraine is outdated non-modernized industry, quite powerful, on the one hand, on the other - the least energy efficient in Europe. And, by the way, the same applies to agriculture and technology, waste in this area. Third: the economic level in the regions and places where people most intersect with the environment. Starting even with small settlements, where people are forced to fell wood lines. When people can't meet basic needs, they don't think about the environment. "
WHAT DO THE EXPERTS RECOMMEND?
1.Become friendly with "environmental" NGOs, establish warm contact with experts so that they can promptly give you exclusive comments.
2.Follow the profile organizations on social networks, subscribe to e-mails
3.Environmental problems happen every day and everywhere. Try to write not only about environmental issues, but also about environmental initiatives. They will motivate people to join environmental activism.
4.Prepare constructive texts that will warn.
5.Spy on foreign editions: what topics and what they write about ecology.
6.Experiment with eco-friendly content. Today, you can start writing about ecology more than other media, at the same time the audience will remember that you have wonderful and exclusive materials on this topic.
* The analysis was conducted in 19 national online media: unian.ua, 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). Materials related to the topic of ecology from June 28 to July 4, 2021 inclusive were included in the monitoring. The total sample is 19,729 materials.
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 is under the sole responsibility of the Institute of Mass Information and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government or the Internews Network.