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Monitoring into professional standards in online media. 1st wave in 2020

13.02.2020, 18:08

For the first time, "Ukrainsky tyzhden", Ukrinform, "Liga", "Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya" and "Ukrainska Pravda" shared first position at the ranking of online media in terms of compliance with journalistic standards. These are the results of an analysis of 17 online mass media conducted by the NGO "Institute of Mass Information" with the support of "Internews-Network" * in January 2020.

98% of the materials on the above mentioned resources did not contain any violation of professional standards of journalism.

The second position as to adherence to professional standards for the first time was taken by "Censor", with 94% of materials that did not contain any violation. The third place was up to RBC-Ukraine website.

At the same time, the worst websites which failed to respect professional standards  were "Strana" (only 60% of materials with no violations) and "Znay.ua", where only 14% of the materials had no violations (ie the vast majority of materials on this portal had nothing to do with professional journalism).

According to IMI research, the Ukrainian online media most often have been violating the professional journalistic standard of separating facts from commentaries. On average, this standard was respected in 90% of materials.

At the second place the experts revealed the violation of the standard of credibility (as it was observed in 92.5% of the total number of materials), and the most often observed standard in online media was this one of balance – respected in 94.5% of the total amount of materials.

The standard of separation of facts from comments was most frequently violated on the following sites: Znay.ua (64% of the total content had violations of this standard), Strana.ua (28%), and Obozrevatel (20%). There were no violations of the standard of separation of facts from comments on the sites "Interfax-Ukraine", "Liga", "Ukrinform", "Ukrayinska Pravda". The most violations of the standard of separation of facts from commentaries have been recorded in tabloid (yellow) news, which contained evaluative judgments: " Glory of Kaminska displaied gorgeous forms, and spoke of divorce ," "Tears in her eyes, former Gufa Aiza showed the dirty underwear of crazy rapper." 

Credibility standard

The most violations of this standard were found out on Znay.ua website (24% of the total news). The highest level of credibility was recorded on the sites "UT", "Liga", "Ukrinform", " Ukrainska Pravda", "Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya", "RBC-Ukraine".

The standard of balance of thoughts / points of view.

On the average, the balance level was of 94.5%. The most of unbalanced news were identified on the Znya.ua website. There were no news that violated the standard of balance on the sites "Interfax-Ukraine", "Dzerkalo Tyzhndya", "UP". Breaches of this standard are most often recorded in news items with order signs, since such news is one-sided.

"Ukrainsky Tyzhden", Ukrinform, "Liga", "Drzerkalo Tyzhdnya", "Ukrainska Pravda"

Five websites have been front-runners in terms of meeting the standards during the first wave of monitoring in 2020: “Ukrainsky Tyzhden”, Ukrinform, Liga, “Dzerkalo Tyzhndya” and “Ukrainiska Pravda”. On these sites, the percent of materials that did not contain violations of professional standards was 98% of the total.

All of these sites had only some single violations. The vast majority of news was written, based on sources with a high level of credibility, and a great deal of attention was paid to compliance with the balance, well-grounded backgrounds and socially important materials.

"Censor.net"

The level of adherence to professional journalistic standards has significantly improved on the Censor.Net site.

If, according to the previous monitoring period, the level of adherence to journalistic standards on that portal was 90% of the total amount of materials, then, according to the results of this new monitoring, they have 94% of materials with no violations. Thus, the Censor site has taken second place in the rating of online media held by IMI.

In particular, the publication with breach of standards "Should one f…the Prime Minister? PHOTOShabers illustrated "Goncharuk's records" got to newsline.

The vast majority of the materials was written in respect of balance and had references to the sources of information.

RBC-Ukraine

92% of the materials on the RBC-Ukraine site had no violations of professional standards. The percent of materials without violations increased by 6%, as compared to the previous monitoring period. Thus, the site took third position in IMI ranking.

On the RBC-Ukraine site, the most violations that have been recorded were violations of the balance category: 6% of the total number of materials. Thus, the site has criticism of the Chairman of the Energy Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Andriy Gerus (in particular, in the news " Gerus declared war on Ukrainian energy production - Kucherenko" ), but the author failed to report what was the standpoint of Gerus himself. Also it lacks balance in the news " Retroactive reduction of green tariff will destroy the investment climate of Ukraine - Goncharenko ".

The level of violations of the standard of separation of facts from comments on the RBC-Ukraine site was 2%. There were no violations of the site's standard of credibility.

Gordon

The Gordon website has 90% publications which complied with the standards. The site improved its performance by 2% more, as comparedwith the previous monitoring period.

The news " In Mirgorod, activists have accused a judge of corruption " had no position of the judge who is accused of corruption, and so the standard of balance was violated.

The news feed on the site had some blogs that contained evaluative judgments and breaches of the standard of separation of facts from comments.

Interfax-Ukraine / "Today" / NV  

Three editions Interfax-Ukraine, Segodnya and NV, had the same indices of compliance with professional journalistic standards - 86% of publications without any violations

If the Interfax-Ukraine and Segodnya practically had the same percent of violations in comparison with the previous monitoring, the indices of the NV site deteriorated (during the previous wave of monitoring the site took the third position of the rating with 94% of the materials without violations). According to IMI experts, first of all, this was due to a great number of tabloid-kind news, such as " Anastasia Volochkova did the splits in a bikini: photo ", " Gwyneth Paltrow used a vagina image for the show poster - photo ", " Olya Polyakova 2020 - singer demonstrated perfect forms wearing swimsuit ". Such news contained evaluative judgements, such as "excited social networks," "seductive forms," ​​"posing in a sexy bronze swimsuit, demonstrating sexy forms." It should be reminded that in such a journalism genre as news, the journalist's evaluative judgments are inappropriate.

Segodnya 's site continues to publish sports news without citing sources of information. In particular, the news " Infighting during the Hockey Championship Match Has Turned Into a Massive Brawl " failed to cite its source of information. The site also had some “yellow” news with the objectification of women: " Ashley Graham nude photo - the 9th month of pregnancy the model got off her clothes."

The Interfax-Ukraine site had excellent results of compliance with  the standards of balance and separation of facts from comments, but the edition goes on publishing the news without sources of information cited, or it just named the sources with no link to the page where the news had been taken, without hyperlinks or screenshots. Respectively, such an information is hardly or impossible to verify at all.

24th Channel

80% of the content on 24th Channel had no violations of professional standards. 12% of materials on this portal failed to cite sources of information, another 8% of materials were unbalanced. Such indices are related to sponsored journalism (stories of complimentary nature): " Intergal-Bud" supported the waste sorting initiative "," Parimatch welcomes the Parliament's decision on the legislative regulation of gambling in Ukraine .

The standard for separating facts from comments on the resource was violated in 4% of the materials. For example, in coverage of such a sensitive topic as murder, journalist ventured an assumption: " Probably, the person was named Vitaly Shulga ."

UNIAN

The news agency website improved its performance, as compared to the previous monitoring period. According to the results of the first wave of monitoring in 2020, its indicators accounted for 78% of materials that had no violations of professional standards (for comparison: 74% in the previous monitoring period).

The website had a lot of tabloid news, with evauative judgments: " Kim Kardashian surprised by her new image (picture) ", " Nadia Dorofeyeva showed sexy buttocks: picture ", " Russian presenter Malysheva sang a Billy Aylie’s song in very surpising way" .

TSN

76% of the materials published by the TSN website complied with professional standards. The violations were primarily related to show business news, which included evaluative judgments: " 47-year-old Alyssa Milano wore a bold low neck dress", " Julia Roberts wore mini :photo ", " Gwyneth Paltrow launched candles with a scent of vagina - details ". The main source of information for such news were the show business stars’ social networks, and this news items had also comments from users of social networks.

The site also had would-be sponsored publications, labeled in inappropriate manner, misunderstood for the audience, such as "Business News."

"Obozrevatel"

According to the IMI monitoring, 38% of the materials on the Obozrevatel website  had violations of professional standards. The most often, they broke the standard of separation of facts from comments - 20% of news. The site is used to manipulate opinion with titles, and sometimes headlines did not correspond to the substance of the news. For example, the news on the bill # 0901 "On Comprehensive Secondary Education" is titled " End of Russian Schools: Ukraine has adopted a new law on secondary education ", though no provisions proving this is the "end of Russian schools" have been provided in the text. In the news about the reaction of the former Prime Minister, Ukraine's former representative in the trilateral contact group in Minsk, Yevgen Marchuk, who reacted to the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the "Black Sea region", Marchuk said that the statement could be considered threat to national security, the headline was: " Ukraine will be cut from the seas": Zelensky warned of a new invasion of Russia .

12% of materials on the website violated the standard of balance. Thus, in the news " Close to Dnipro, the communal services destroyed the graves in the cemetery. Photo " The source of the material is the Facebook group " We are from Pavlograd ", but at the same time, the publication failed to cite position of public utilities services.

"Strana"

According to the IMI research, 40% of the materials had violations of journalism standards on the "Strana" website. Most often, the resource violated the standard of separation of facts from comments: a violation of this standard was recorded in 28% of the total amount of materials. News on this site contained a large number of evaluative judgments and assumptions attributed to anyone, such as "according to some rumors", "one can conclude that", "it is clear that", "caused an ambiguous reaction" and more.

20% of materials on the resource lacked balance. So, for example, in the news " The Verkhovna Rada adopted the law with amendments to the Tax Code " criticized the bill, "Bill No. 1210 was severely criticized by business", but the author did not specify who precisely criticized it, and the publication failed to mention opinion of the developers of the bill or MPs, who voted for.

The news “Bill "#0901 on secondary education and the abolition of Russian schools. How MPs voted in fractions " contains manipulations, because the bill did not mention Russian schools to be abolished, but instead it refers to the percentage of teaching in Ukrainian in the schools of ethnic minority.

"Znay.ua"

The worst performance during this monitoring period was revealed on Znay.ua website. On average, only 14% of materials on the site were written without violating professional standards, but these were materials based on official press releases of the authorities.

56% of materials here violated the standard of separation of facts from comments. In order to increase the clickability of the resource, the authors made evaluative headlines: " Slava Kaminska demonstrated splendid forms, spokeof divorce: plans for the future changed " , " In Ukraine borsch set arranged crazy races: prices for main alimentary products made public " , " Vegans would not like it: 3D, picture of beef: photos not for the faint of heart . "

28% of materials on the site violated the standard of balance. On "Znay.ua" materials with signs of political PR in favor of Mykola Tomenko and Mykola Katerynchuk were identified:" Katerynchuk spoke about Government, promises of Zelensky and threat to the land market ", " Tomenko revealed, how Zelensky went on a subtle crisis with the law on decentralization: what is wrong with the document . "

24% of the materials on Znay.ua didi not cite sources of information at all, or they contained sources of bad credibility. For example, "They reported in edition “Top.Zhyr, "" Analysts have told when 5G will come into our lives . "

* Monitoring analysis was carried out in January 2020 in 17 nationwide Internet media (the ten most rated and seven media that signed the Memorandum of Media Movement for compliance with professional standards): obozrevatel.com, segodnya.ua, 24tv.ua, tsn.ua, strana.ua,  pravda.com.ua, znaj.ua rbc.ua, unian.com, gordonua.com,, nv.ua (M), liga.net (M), ukrinform.ua (M), zn.ua (M) , censor.net.ua (M), tyzhden.ua (M), interfax.com.ua (M). The total sample was 850 materials - 50 materials, taken simultaneously from each site covered by the monitoring.

The methodology of the study is available here.

This research was made possible thanks to support of the American people through the USAID Media Program in Ukraine, implemented by the international organization Internews Network. The content of this material 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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