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Jeansa in online media. Monitoring report for 2nd quarter 2021

09.07.2021, 16:03

The level of jeansa increased by more than by a third (by 39%) in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter. Commercial news items of an ordered nature continue to prevail over political ones, which is explained by the period between election time. 27.5% of materials with signs of the order aimed at promoting various commercial companies. The number of news that had signs of order in favor of companies, interests and the image of one of the richest and the most influential Ukrainian oligarchs Rinat Akhmetov has almost doubled (from 8% of the total number of jeansa in the first quarter of 2021 to 16.3% in the second). Most of the jeansa of political nature was focused on increasing the significance of President Zelensky's program "Great Construction". In the headlines, some media called it flatly "Zelensky's Great Construction" and published only flattering news. 

These are the results of a study by the NGO "Institute of Mass Information", which was conducted on April 26-30, 2021 in 18 online media, with the full sample of more than 20 thousand news items*.

“Obozrevatel” (124 materials with order signs) and “Politeka” (61 materials) became anti-leader sites in terms of number of news with order signs. Materials with signs of the order were also found on the sites "RBC-Ukraine" (25), "Channel 24" (22), "Interfax-Ukraine" (21), UNIAN (20), "Segodnya" (19), "Censor" (14), "Gordon" (13), "Strana" (11), TSN (5).

No jeansa was found on the sites "Liga", "Ukrayinska Pravda", "Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya", "Suspilne", "Bukvy", NV and "Korrespondent". 

The most inappropriate marking among all sites was found on TSN (15), in second place - UNIAN (9). Improper labeling of materials was also found on the websites of “Ukrayinska Pravda”, “Bukvy”, NV, Channel 24, “Segodnya” and “Gordon”.

The sites of 112 and NewsOne TV channels were razed from the list of monitored sites, as these broadcasters were subject to sanctions and were suspended in accordance with the decision of the National Security and Defense Council and the decree of President Zelensky. 

OVERVIEW OF THE MAIN CATEGORIES OF JEANSA 

  1. Commercial companies

27.5% of news items with signs of order flattering the commercial companies were found with this period of monitoring, which is almost by one third more than it was in the first quarter of 2021.

Among socially irresponsible advertisers who violated the law "On Advertising" and ordered disguised advertising, the IMI experts have identified some persons from the gambling business, namely Casino Storm International, bookmaker Parimatch, lottery Mega Millions and othersThe news had no mention of the destructive passion that can be caused by the promotion of  advertising of gambling establishments, which is ludomania (from the Latin word ludos, meaning game) listed at the International Register of Diseases.

It will be recalled that according to the Law of Ukraine "On Prohibition of Gambling in Ukraine" of May 25 2009, gambling was banned, and from July 14, 2020 under the Law 2285-d it has been re-legalized.

Among the advertisers who defied the law, our expert identified a number of banking institutions, in particular GlobusBank, IBOX Bank and AlfaBank that placed some disguised advertising:

New advanced features revealed for Sense application to be updated this spring (Obozrevatel)

Globus Bank was again named the most active participant in the Affordable Mortgage program 7% (Obozrevatel)

There are also mobile operators and Internet providers in Ukraine that order hidden advertising:

What to see this weekend: Volia opens unlimited access to content ("Segodnya")

Vodafone Ukraine will provide doctors with free communication and Internet access (Interfax-Ukraine)

How to rapidly develop business with Big Data services from Kyivstar (Channel 24)

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, pharmaceutical companies have been significantly enlisted its efforts for covert PR, even some precise drugs are promoted in the news:

Statistics of practical use of the drug Proteflazid® for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19: data from NASUA ("Obozrevatel")

Dmytro Shymkiv : “Farma” has received new opportunities to enter world markets over the last year – RBC-Ukraine

Farmak” intensifies development of digitalization (Interfax-Ukraine)

According to IMI experts, it is irresponsible to place unmarked advertisements of medicines, as this can lead to self-medicating, which is dangerous to life and health. In its covert ads, the mass media did not mention that "self-medication can be harmful to your health," which is mandatory in the case of advertising drugs.

Another type of advertising - native ad (or what they figure this it is in Ukraine) is gaining momentum in the Ukrainian online media.

According to the definition in Wikipedia, the main feature of native advertising is that the product and content are merged, it does matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears,  in contrast to traditional advertising placements, which are often subject to "banner blindness". However, this kind of advertising must be labelled too. IMI lawyer Roman Holovenko notes that there are no separate laws regulating the labeling of native advertising in the legislation of Ukraine: "Part three of Article 9 of the Law" On Advertising "regulates the labeling of any advertising with the words" advertising "or" advertising rights ". The law does not specify what type of advertising it applies to - accordingly, it applies to any type of advertising. "

Some sites, such as Channel 24, place similar advertisements, but do not mention that the advertiser is its sponsor and does not interfere with journalistic pieces. So, such materials were listed as jeansa (sponsored journalistic pieces).

During the five days of monitoring, 15 such news items in favor of "Purina" animal feed and three materials in favor of SHABO wine were found on the website of Channel 24 .

A key aspect in understanding the labeling of native advertising is that for it, as well as for traditional advertising, the media that places it receives money. Accordingly, if such material is not labeled, it falls under the definition of economic jeansa.

IMI experts positively noted the labeling, which began to be used on the sites "Liga" and NV. It meets modern international standards of labeling in the media and is recommended for use in the following cases:

  1. When the advertiser is not author of the content, but only sponsor of the section. That is, the content is created with the financial support of the donor, organization, company or person, but such company or person does not interfere in the writing of the text and does not approve its final edition. Such materials may meet the strictest journalistic standards and do not belong to advertising. They can be funded by organizations, companies that want to associate with certain content and information or want to increase attention to certain issues (eg, environment, anti-corruption, etc.). Clarifications on the independence and objectivity of content creation can be added in the disclaimer and written separately in the editorial code.
  2. When the material contains sponsorship links, the editorial board may earn a commission for the sale of goods referred to in this article. Please note that recommendations in this material are made by independent journalists, so they must meet all standards of journalism, as well as ordinary news. Purchase of goods is possible through the links provided in the text. If you resort to this practice, you should explain this point in the disclaimer and in your editorial code, as well as carefully monitor compliance with the standards. 

Example of a disclaimer in the materials of the "Liga":

“A correct dietary, as well as professional trainers will help you to take care of one’s body and to keep fit. As , for instance, in the Sportlife network. Sportlife is Liga.life’s partner in the news items on healthy lifestyle. The company supports this topic news items, but does not interfere with the editition of texts.”

Example of a disclaimer in NV materials:

“This news items has links to some goods. This means that we can earn some little commission from the sale of goods mentioned in the news item. This is the journalistic piece, it is made independent, and in no mean any advertiser, neither commercial initiative had interfered with. You can have confidence in our reviews, as they are made in compliance with journalistic standards.

Such label is recommended by The Trust, the international initiative of quality journalism, it is also used by the world's prominent mass media. An example of such marking on The Guardian :

  1. Rinat Akhmetov and his companies 

In favor of the Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov and his companies, 16.3% of news items with signs of sponsored journalism were placed, which is twice as much as in the first quarter of 2021. These are mainly public image materials, ie materials that are not aimed at promotion of sale of some particular product or service, which is considered as a typical commercial jeansa. Instead, such materials could improve the image of a person or company.

Rhinat Akhmetov tries to improve his public image through the stories about this charitable activity:

#We thank physicians: Rinat Akhmetov’s Foundation launched a national campaign (UNIAN)

- or thanks to the social projects of his companies:

Metinvest will pay scholarships to students of technical specialties in schools and colleges of Mariupol (UNIAN)

Metinvest launches scholarship program for students in утпштуукштп schools and colleges of Mariupol ("Gordon")

Needs are growing: Ilyich Steel and Iron Works produced tens of thousands of tons of oxygen for hospitals in two weeks (UNIAN)

 DTEK Academy donates 100 books to Ukrainian libraries ("Politeka")

 

There are also some texts about the success and innovations of Akhmetov's companies:

DTEK Networks launches an online monitoring of low-voltage networks using Swiss technology (Politeka)

Ukrainian metal is used in the most complex world projects amid fierce competition (UNIAN)

Rinat Akhmetov himself does not seem to have any plans to return to big politics. However, this does not mean that the oligarch does not influence Ukrainian politics. He recently invested more than $ 300 million in his media holding. IMI’s monitoring surveys found Rinat Akhmetov's media supporting the President Zelensky. In addition, he is linked to at least three other politicians, in favour of whom some sponsored stories were also recorded. In particular, this is Volodymyr Groysman, flattering whom 2.3% from the total number of news items with signs of the order were placed. About Akhmetov's support of Groysman and Yatsenyuk the journalist Oleksiy Bratushchak wrote in his blog on UP: "It seems that because of this the oligarch has developed relations with two ex-prime ministers Yatsenyuk and Groysman." At the same time, last November, interviewed by “Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya”, Volodymyr Groysman by himself contested having been supported by the oligarch Akhmetov: " I am convinced that Rinat Leonidovich (Akhmetov –n/tr) currently has no joint political projects with anyone." 

Another well-known politician associated with Akhmetov is Oleg Lyashko. Radio Svoboda said : "The executive committee of Oleh Lyashko's Radical Party (RPL) was headed by a man connected with Rinat Akhmetov. It is Yuriy Zinchenko, a former director of one of the Mariupol enterprises belonging to the Metinvest group of companies. It belongs to the oligarch." According to experts, this step is a natural result of Lyashko's talks with Akhmetov. "

It is significant that almost all materials in favor of Oleg Lyashko were recorded on the “Segodnya” website , which is part of Akhmetov 's Ukraine Media Group :

Consequences of Donbass war for ecology - Lyashko will give his assessment – “Ukraina 24”

Water in Crimea - Lyashko told why it can not be given – “Ukraina 24”

Zelensky Putin - Lyashko explained, whether the presidents had to meet or not – “Ukraina 24”

Some news items flattering Volodymyr Groysman were also recorded on the same site:

Deoligarchization could become a mechanism for the destruction of the economy, warns the former PM 

Such an active presence of the oligarch's "minions" in his media is evidence of Akhmetov's active influence on the editorial policy of the mass media under his control.

  1. "Great Construction" as an image program of Volodymyr Zelensky

The third position in terms of the number of texts with signs of order was taken by the program of President Zelensky "Great Construction", in favor of which 8.7% of the total number of materials with signs of jeansa were placed.

News items in favor of Zelensky's program were found on half of the sites that contained commissioned materials we had been monitoring. Examples of such news items:

Zelensky's "Great Construction" updates record number of bridges - expert (TSN)

In Bukovina they will soon open 5 medical admission units, renovated by the Great Construction of Zelensky (UNIAN)

Great Construction of Zelensky: will repair one of the longest roads of Nikolaevshchina ("Obozrevatel")

It became known how Zelensky's "Great Restoration" will rebuild the Museum of the Cossacks on Khortytsia ("Obozrevatel")

As part of "Great Construction" they will repair as many bridges as in all the years of independence - expert (RBC-Ukraine)

According to IMI experts, PR for Zelensky's project has become much more active than in the previous quarter. Such materials belong to the category of image and are aimed primarily at expanding and strengthening the beliefs of the electorate of President Zelensky.

We recommend that journalists who write about the "Great Construction" be careful about the promotion of political players, pay attention to the reputation of experts who talk about the "Great Construction", remember the balance, check the figures, give context and prefer to inform about facts, not about the distant future. And, of course, take into account the public importance of such information.

  1. Petro Poroshenko and the European Solidarity Party

In favor of ex-president Petro Poroshenko and his party, 7% of the total number of materials with signs of orders were placed, which is 2% more than during the previous monitoring period.

Poroshenko's PR, unlike other politicians who comment on a wide range of topics, has a fairly clear focus and points at topics that are present in the program of the EU party.

First of all, the EU promoted international issues and European integration:

Poroshenko named the main goal of the June NATO summit for Ukraine (Obozrevatel)

Poroshenko thanked the European Parliament for the resolution on Ukraine (Obozrevatel)

Poroshenko called to support Ukraine's application to NATO and to send peacekeepers to Donbass ("Observer")

Poroshenko did not miss the current topic of coronavirus vaccination and charitable initiatives:

Petro Poroshenko: vaccination is cornerstone of EU anti-plan  (Censor.net)

On the eve of Easter, socially vulnerable Kyiv residents received food kits from the Poroshenko Foundation and volunteers (Obozrevatel)

Except from Poroshenko, news items on another “EU” representative, MP Oleksiy Honcharenko, were noticed in the media:

Because of Zelensky's mistakes in relations with "green" investors, government was involved in international arbitrations - Goncharenko ("Politeka")

Instead of raising taxes, government should deal with billion-dollar corruption schemes - MP ("Politeka")

Tax increase will sweep away business and leave the country without jobs, - MP (RBC-Ukraine)

An upward tick of the “EU”’s PR might indicate the ambitions of this political force.

 

  1. Market reaction to changes in the Tax Code

Last February 25, the President and his faction initiated a bill #5153 to amend the Tax Code of Ukraine to encourage de-shadowing of incomes and increase the tax culture of citizens by introducing voluntary declaration of assets belonging to individuals and payment of a one-time fee to the budget.  The presidential bill was approved by the Verkhovna Rada at a meeting on June 15. 

The market and companies reacted negatively to this initiative. The materials against this bill were primarily about additional taxation and danger to business:

Tax increase will force business to go into the shadows - Trakhachev ("Obozrevatel")

Authorities impose new taxes under the guise of tax amnesty - Kushniruk  ("Obozrevatel")

Deputies of various political parties also supported this rhetoric in their PR. For example, the People's Deputy from "Holos"(Voice) Kira Rudyk:

To save business, we must now abolish taxes, not raise them - MMP ("Politeka") 

- and her fellow party member Yaroslav Zheleznyak:

We should reduce taxes to help business, instead of increase fiscal pressure - MP ("Politeka")

And also the ex-prime minister of Ukraine Pavlo Rozenko:

The government should stimulate economic growth, instead of giving coup de grâce to nation by raising taxes - MP ("Politeka")

Batkivshchyna leader Yulia Tymoshenko also hyped herself with this:

Raising taxes, the government will lose business, and hence budget revenues - Tymoshenko ("Politeka")

However, the media's rhetoric changed dramatically after the law was passed, and even its name was reshaped with more of positive (some mass media had such headlines: "Tax Amnesty: Rada Passes Law", "How Will Tax Amnesty Work?").

  1. Yulia Tymoshenko and Batkivshchyna party

5% of all materials with signs of the order were recorded in favor of the Batkivshchyna leader.

Yulia Tymoshenko comments mainly on social issues, using emotional vocabulary and "horrors" for the electorate:

Yulia Tymoshenko - Batkivshchyna will not allow deprive Ukrainians of their land  (RBC-Ukraine)

Tymoshenko: Authorities have opened the land sale to foreigners, only a referendum can protect Ukraine ("Gordon")

Yulia Tymoshenko - Land referendum will stop scam of government and return land to Ukrainians (RBC-Ukraine)

The number of materials with signs of ordering in favor of Tymoshenko remained at the same level as in the previous reporting period. 

  1. Oleg Bakhmatyuk and Ukrlandfarming

The owner of Ukrlandfarming agroholding Oleh Bakhmatyuk often appears in IMI reports on jeansa customers. In this monitoring period, 3.7% of news items with signs of an order were recorded in his favor, which is almost twice as much as in the first quarter of 2021.

Custom-made materials in favor of Bakhmatyuk, as in the case of Rinat Akhmetov, have an public image nature. With the help of such materials, the businessman is trying to whitewash his reputation and is actively fighting NABU, which is investigating him.

As reference. NABU and SAP suspect the former owner of VAB-Bank Oleg Bakhmatyuk of conspiring with the expert deputy head of the National Bank Oleksandr Pisaruk to withdraw 1.2 billion hryvnias of refinancing from this commercial bank in 2014. At the end of November 2019, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, on the application of NABU, put him on wanted list. Bakhmatyuk has repeatedly said that he was in Vienna and was willing to take part in all procedural actions. 

In the materials in his favor, Bakhmatyuk pointed at the head of NABU Sytnyk as his main enemy and was trolling him. To do this, the businessman actively uses employees of his enterprises for that aim.

The action received wide resonance in the media, such as this "flash mob" that “Strana” reported on : "One of biggest agro groups of Ukraine "Ukrlendfarmynh" congratulated the director Artem NABU Sytnyk on occasion  of his 6 years in office presenting him one billion of eggs and inscription “Sytnyk, get away!”

In addition to the war against NABU and Sytnyk, Bakhmatyuk also comments on economic processes in Ukraine:

Ukraine can allow at least three years to do without foreign loans - Bakhmatyuk ("Strana")

Bakhmatyuk: Next 3 years we can do without any external borrowings, - Bakhmatyuk (Censor. net)

For Bakhmatyuk, the ordered materials became an opportunity to stay at the landscape and wage war against anti-corruption bodies.

  1. OPFL

The percent of commissioned news items in favor of OPFL continues to fall dramatically in the Ukrainian online media. Jeansa in favor of this political force have decreased several times after the closure of the media controlled by Viktor Medvedchuk. The number of materials with signs of a custom nature in favor of OPFL was only 3.4% as of the second quarter of 2021. To compare it: in the same period last year, OPFL accounted for 41% of all materials with signs of ordering, ie the lion's share of the jeansa market (or in this case, the censorship of the media owner). In the first quarter of 2021, OPFL accounted for 10% of all materials with signs of order.

Most of the materials in favor of OPFL were published on the pro-Russian site "Strana":

OPFL accused government of failing to bring the country out of crisis

OPFL demands to return subsidies to Chernobyl victims

OPFL demands a tough response to attempts to rehabilitate Nazism in Ukraine

The commissioned materials were also recorded in favor of the chairman of the political council of the "Opposition Platform - For Life" Viktor Medvedchuk, who was accused of treason and sent under house arrest:

Medvedchuk: The arbitrariness created by the authorities in the field of education is a consistent program of destroying the intellectual potential of the nation - “Politeka”

Medvedchuk: Unprofessional actions of the authorities and another increase in tariffs will lead to the collapse of the entire housing system – “Politeka”

The following materials were contained on the “Politeka” website.

 

Custom materials have been placed in mass media for various purposes: to promote their products or services (commercial jeansa), to obtain additional political dividends (political jeansa), to whiten their reputation (public image jeansa). But the sole purpose of these materials is to manipulate public opinion.

Monitoring was conducted on April 26-30, 2021 in 18 popular Internet media: "Politeka", "Obozrevatel", Channel 24, "Gordon", "Ukrainska Pravda", UNIAN, "Segodnya", TSN, RBC.ua, "Liga" , Interfax-Ukraine, "Strana", "Censor", "Bukvy", "Dzerkalo Tyzhndya", "Korrespondent", Suspilne, NV. 

The sample covers all consecutive news published on the sites during the specified period (more than 20 thousand news items).

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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