On the eve of elections in the national online mass media, the most frequently broken standard was the standard of thoughts and points of view (8% of materials). Such are the results of the survey into 16 online media that the Institute of Mass Media held with the support of Internews Network *. This monitoring into Ukrainian was published on 7th of March 2019.
The most part of materials with failure to respect the balance were recorded on the website of “Strana” (strana.ua): 32% of the materials of this resource needed to be well-balanced.
No violations of this standard were revealed on the websites of “Ukraynsky tyzhden” (tyzhden.ua) and TSN (tsn.ua).
SEPARATING FACTS FROM COMMENTS
7% of news had violated the standard of separation of facts from the comments, which was evidence of manipulations in some of analyzed mass media. First of all, it was the case of “Obozrevatel” (obozrevatel.com) and “Strana” (strana.ua) websites, where the percent of violations of this precise standard was 34% and 32% respectively. Thus, the news of “Strana” (strana.ua) often used evaluative judgments with a negative covert sense, like “tomos tour” or “law on ecclesiastical raider attacks.”
There were no violations of this standard on the websites: “Liga” (liga.net), “Novoe vremya” (nv.ua), “Dzerkalo tyzhndnya” (zn.ua), “Ukrinform” (ukrinform.ua), “Interfax” (interfax.com.ua), “RBC-Ukraine” (rbc.ua).
The most thoroughly the news websites respect the standard of credibility: this standard was broken the least (in 4.5% of the materials).
Most often this standard was violated on the site “Segodnya” (segodnya.ua) : in 18% of the materials. It should be noted this was frequently the case of sports news, which failed to have source of information the most often.
No untrusted uncredible news were identified on the websites “Liga” (liga.net), “Novoe Vremya” (nv.ua), “Dzerkalo tyzhdnya” (zn.ua), “Ukrinform” (ukrinform.ua), “Interfax” (interfax. com.ua), “RBC-Ukraine” (rbc.ua), “Censor” (censor.net.ua).
By quantity of materials which had no violations of professional standards, this was the website “Ukraynsky tyzhden” (tyzhden.ua): 98% of its materials had no violations of the journalism standards.
The second position was shared by four websites at once: “Liga” (liga.net), “Novoe vremya” (nv.ua), “Dzerkalo tyzhdnya” (zn.ua), “Ukrinform” (ukrinform.ua), these media had 96% of materials without violations of professional standards. A third position with 94% of materials which had any infringement of the standards took the online edition “Gordon” (gordonua.com).
The lowest rates were recorded in “Strana” (strana.ua) websites: 48% and “Obozrevatel” (obozrevatel.com) : 62% of materials without violations of standards.
“Ukraynsky tyzhden” (tyzhden.ua)
The front-runner in terms of adherence of professional standards in the news reporting during the first quarter of 2019 became the website “Ukraiynsky tyzhden” (“Ukrainian Week”) (tyzhden.ua). During the monitoring period, it had only one news from the sample which contained violation of professional standards, which was equal to 2%, and thus, 98% of the news had no violations of the standards.
The news that raised questions of the experts was: “The Russian Federation has placed nuclear missiles near the borders of Ukraine – as to mass media .” However, in the text of the news, as well as in the original source, it was said that these missiles could carry nuclear warheads, but which warheads are located in Krasnodar – it was not clear. So, the title of the news does not fully correspond to the text, which is a violation of the standard of separation of the facts from the comments.
The “Ukraiynsky tyzhden” online edition got to the monitoring of IMI as a signatory to the memorandum “Media for the informed choice”.
The second position in the ranking with 96% of the materials without violations of professional standards was taken by four websites: “Liga” (liga.net), “Novoe vremya” (nv.ua), “Dzerkalo tyzhdnya” (zn.ua), “Ukrinform” (ukrinform.ua).
The website “Liga” had not violations of the standards of credibility and separation of facts from the comments. However, two violations of the standard of balance of opinions were recorded (4% of the materials).
So, the material ” Ukrainian pet food will be sold in UK and Finland ” highlighted only the positive aspects of this product, which is a violation of the standard of balance, the same remark could be addressed to another material – ” Application of OshchadBank will function with cards issued by different banks .”
The “League” website also was signatory of the Memorandum “Media for a Conscious Choice”.
“Novoe vremya” (nv.ua)
Similarly, like in “Liga”, the website “Novoe Vremya” (nv.ua), had no violations of the standard of credibility and separation of the facts and the comments, but 4% of the materials failed to respect the balance. It was the case of advertising material ” Ukrgasbank and NEFCO launched a new credit program for implementing green projects for business “, which was labeled with the title of the heading “Companies’ news”, as well as the material “From now on the maps. The Ukrainian company Allset will be seen in Google Maps , which focused only on the positive qualities of the company.
The site “Novoe Vremya” was also signatory of the Memorandum “Media for a conscious choice”.
“Dzerkalo tyzhdnya” (zn.ua)
This site also records only the violation of the standard of balance : 4% of news. This is the news about the presentation of the headquarters of one of the Presidential candidates, as well as the news “Derevyanko: The rate of customs clearance of a car at 10% can bring 25 billion hryvnias a yeaк to the public budget”, story providing only the position of the MP and the presidential candidate Derevyanko, who is concerned party.
“Mirror of the Week” signed a memorandum “Media for a Conscious Choice”.
The news site had violations of only standard : the balance. This concerned official news about the current government, in particular, there were some materials in the sample that were not balanced with the opinion of the opponents, despite the fact that alternative statements came that day: ” The transition of religious communities is legally protected, so clashes are impossible – the BPP ,” ” Poroshenko arrived at the cathedral of Zhytomyr ” .
Despite the fact that the materials with signs of being paid-for have not been revealed in Ukrinform, the website had more “shoe-leather” news – official statements of the current authorities – as compared with other sites.
Ukrinform also signed a memorandum “Media for a Conscious Choice”.
The third position at the ranking, with an index of 94% of materials without violations of professional standards, is Gordon.ua (gordonua.com).
6% of the materials had violations of the standard of balance. In particular, the news found out in the sample had signs of disguised political advertisement: ” MP Derevyanko said that the rate of customs clearance of cars 10% can bring 25 billion USD per year to the budget”, which only reflects the Derevyanko’s standpoint. The newspaper ” The Committee of voters recognized Lyashko as one of the most effective lawmakers ” was published under the heading “Relevant”, and afterwards was later denied by the Committee of Voters of Ukraine. So, this news had breach to the standard of separation of the facts from the comments and the standard of credilility.
“Ukrayinska Pravda” (pravda.com.ua)
The edition was ranked the fourth: it had 92% of the materials written with no violations of professional standards. 6% of the materials contained violations of balance and credibility standards. For example, they said in the material ” National Bank of Ukraine put into circulation a coin of 5 hryvnias denomination ” these coins would be put into circulation in 2019. However, the head of the NBU, Yakov Smoliy, did not give guarantee about the terms, he said only the coin could be introduced this year. The news refers to the website FinClub, which also did not give any precise forecasts, and quotes Smoliya. The news ” EU countries that are threatening the rule of law, will lose money, as to the European Parliament ” has not any identified source of information. It is unclear whether the news was taken from the press release, from other media, from the sitting of the European Parliament or from its own correspondent. The news ” The scandal with advertising of Poroshenko: clergyman’s picture published without his consent ” failed to be well-balanced, namely, there is nor standpoint of the main protagonist of the story, whom they did not ask to comment on, neither standpoint of customer of the ad. The news ” Medvedchuk boasted they had lifted ban on Russian cultural product in Lviv ” was reprinted from the press release of the “Ukrainian Choice”, and the impression was that exclusively Medvedchuk had only one who objected this decision and this was his victory. There was no report that, apart of Medvedchuk, the human rights activists from the Chuhuivka human rights group (which is member of Ukrainian Helsinki human rights union) and the journalist Sergey Ivanov-Malyavin who lodged claim against this decision of the Lviv regional council and won the trial.
The website had some news more that casted doubts of the experts, like “Ukrzaliznytsya” launched a new important option” , which is laudatory to a commercial company. Also there were in the sample, but did not enter the final evaluation the news written on the basis of the social networks, but without links or screenshots of sources.
10% of the materials of RBC-Ukraine contained reports with failure to respect the balance. No violation of other standards has not been registered on “RBC-Ukraine”.
The materials got to the sample had the signs of being disguised advertisement or “shoe-leather” reports. For example, the news ” Rabynovich: having raised tariffs, the authorities condemned Ukrainians to freeze ” contained some populist statements of the politician and failed to be balanced. Another news on the Kyiv mayor Vitaliy Klitschko was flattering to him ” Klitschko inspected the reconstruction of a kindergarten for children with special needs .”
90% of the analyzed materials had no breaches to professional standards. All recorded violations concerned the balance of thoughts. The sample included materials with signs of economic and political order: ” KYva: Socialist party of Ukraine has begun preparing a package of social reforms based on European experience “, ” Poroshenko called the main priority for 2019 to increase social standards “, ” Brocard-Ukraine” plans to open up to 7 new stores in 2019 “- these materials are flattering and unbalanced.
The site had signed The Memorandum “Media for an informed choice”.
12% of materials on the website had violations of professional standards. The standard which knew violations the most frequently was the balance standard: 8% of materials. Thus, according to IMI experts, the news is unbalanced: ” We managed to keep cost of utilities services at the same level, as to the deputy head of the KCSA Panteleev ” and ” Representatives of BPP abstained from voting on committee for bill on transition of religious communities, as to Knyazhitsky .”
4% of materials here had violation of separation of the facts from the comments, it was mainly materials related to the military operations in the east of Ukraine.
The credibility standard on the Censor website has not been violated, all the facts had clearly identified sources.
The website is signatory of the Memorandum “Media for conscious choice”.
On average, 14% of the material contained violations to professional standards. Most often, the news site violated the standard of credibility: on average 10% of the materials had a problem with the sources. The sample included materials with signs of order, and these were the news where the most part of violations were recorded. For example, such materials like “Ukrlandfarming” Bakhmatyuk cleared snow from 4.5 thousand km of Ukrainian roads – 24th channel ” ,” Ukrainian railway’s projects to raise freight tariffs alarmed domestic industrialists, as to Kalenkov “,” Unmanned cars will adapt to the mood of passengers thanks to the technology from Kia Motors “. These materials are complementary, and respectively, they violate the standard of balance of views. In addition, the last material failed to cite source of information at all. Credibility principle has been violated in some sports news, where there were also no sources of information: “Starting players of basketball Stars Match 2019 became known.”
4% of the materials contained violations of the separation of the facts from the comments, and 6% of the news had breaches to the balance standard.
16% of the materials on the site contained violations of journalism standards. Most often it concerned the standard of balance. IMI experts recorded 12% of unbalanced materials on the resource.
Violation of this standard primarily concerned paid-for materials: ” Plastiks Ukraine” company has been implementing European business standards for 20 years , ” “Ukrlandfarming” Bakhmatyuk has cleaned roads in three regions of Ukraine at its own expense , “” KSCA has achieved abolition of utility tariffs growth . ”
In tabloid materials there were recorded violations of the standard of separation of the facts from the comments: “Beautiful couple”: Ani Lorak “got exposed” in the arms of Russian singer (photo) ” . In total, such violations were recorded in 6% of the materials, and in 8% of the materials had violation of the credibility standard.
The site records violations of professional standards in 22% of the materials. 18% of materials had violations of the standard of credibility. The main remark the experts made is the lack of sources of information or “Segodnya” referred to itself as the source of information (not on their own correspondent). First of all, it concerned the sports news, but also it was the case for some international news, for example, ” In Italy they sell houses for one euro as special offer, but there is a nuance .”
6% of news had violated the standard of separation of the facts from the comments. So, in the news “Scientists have revealed the mystery of the origin of life on Earth” from the title, it made the readers think that the mystery has already been solved, while the text only refers to another hypothesis put forward by scientists, and in fact, there are quite a lot of hypotheses of the origin of life on the earth, and till now no one experimentally had been proved.
The violation of the balance was recorded in 4% of the materials, the ordered material was marked with the heading “Relevant” (the advertising materials marked in accordance with the Law “On Advertising” with the wordings “Advertising” or “For publicity purposes” were not included in the sample), which was complementary, and respectively, was unbalanced.
26% of materials contained violations of professional standards. However, this site did not record violations of the standard of credibility, all the facts were reported with the reference to the source of information. The mostly there were violations of the standard of separation of the facts from the comments in tabloid news, which are pretty much on the site, respectively, and they were caught in a large number in the sample. For example, ” Wearing swimsuit and mini: Polyakova’s image impressively changed for 20 years ,” ” Like from the cover:” the angel “Martha Hunt in bikini bathes in the sun” , ” Battle of evening images: Duchess Sussex vs Princess Diana ” and others.
It is worth to note that social and political materials on the site are of high quality and there were violations recorded in them much less often than in the show business news.
38% of the materials on the site had violations of professional standards. Often, the “Observer” violated the standard of separation of facts from comments. The site used evaluative judgments in the headlines to increase the site frequency. For example, “A young Ukrainian woman made a grand scoop on the Australian Open ,” “Bloody carnage in Rostok-holding Ukraine: all the details .” The site also had some news with statements, which had no evidence. So, in the news “Drawn in the corner rat”: collapse of Putin’s popularity has been explained” statements on the fall of Putin’s ratings are not supported by any research, but only a subjective assessment of one of the political scientists.
The sample included materials with order signs, which affected the level of balanced materials. In general, 22% of the materials are unbalanced on the site: ” Ukrainian railway plans to raise freight tariffs of worried industrialists – Kalenkov ,” ” Ukrlandfarming Bakhmatyuk at his own expense cleared roads in three regions of Ukraine .”
In 10% of the materials, the standard of credibility was violated, in particular, there were the materials with signs of order or in show business stories.
The lowest level of adherence to professional standards was recorded on the “Strana” website. On average, more than half of the news on this resource (52%) had violations.
32% of the materials were unbalanced and contained evaluative judgments. Thus, the unbalanced and in biased way the “Strana” covered the topic of amendments to the law on the subordination of religious institutions. All the news had been calling it as the “law on ecclesiastical raider attack”: ” In the UOC-MP, they criticized the adoption of the law on ecclesiastical raider attacks ,” Filaret thanked the Parliament for the law on “ecclesiastical raider attack” and called on the Russian Orthodox Church to “look for another place on earth”. “Tomos-tour with Poroshenko got to Zhytomyr , “” The parliament passed law on ecclesiastical raider take-over. 29 votes pro”. Besides that, this reflected the biased attitude of the “Strana” resource to the issues surrounding the church of Ukraine, these assertions reflect the Russia’s content on local Ukrainian church, since these were the Russian mass media which massively reported about take-over of the orthodox church of Ukraine.
Another Russian narrative that the “Strana” propagated concerned the failure of Ukraine to be independent as a state and its dependence on the United States, as, for example, in the article “President Poroshenko confirmed the symbol and slogan for the Special operations forces of Ukraine ” in the background, they said that since now berets of servicemen will be of the same color as in the US: ” blue paratroopers’ berets were de-communized in Ukraine. Now they will be burgundy, as in the USA . ”
The experts also drew attention that the background failed to correspond to the news texts and to its manipulative nature.
For example, the background in the news ” Facebook has deleted almost 400 accounts from abroad, which spoke of Ukraine ” was: “Previously, “Strana” reported why the Ukrainian authorities suddenly decided to pay Ukrainian subsidies in cash before the election .” The background in the news ” Ukrainian border guards strengthened protection of the border with Russia and Transnistria, ” is: “before the police’s very eyes, the border guards began to eat dollars earned for smuggling of cigarettes .”
The credibility is violated in 10% of the materials.
“As a result of this monitoring one could conclude that before the election the lack of balance in the news media field is caused by paid-for materials or by the editorial policy of the media owners who support a certain electoral subject, and the manipulations are often present in the tabloid news. An exception is the editorial policy of the “Strana”, which disseminates manipulative narratives, ” Olena Golub, IMI expert, said.
The analysis was conducted in 16 nationwide online media (nine top ranked and seven media outlets which had signed the memorandum): obozrevatel.com, segodnya.ua, 24tv.ua, tsn.ua, strana.ua, pravda.com.ua, rbc.ua, unian.com, gordonua.com, nv.ua (М), liga.net (М), ukrinform.ua (М), zn.ua (М), censor.net.ua (М), tyzhden.ua (M), interfax.com.ua (M). The total sample was 800 materials, 50 materials taken in a row simultaneously from each of the website that had been subjected to this monitoring.
This study was made possible thanks to the support of the American people, which was provided through the USAID “Media Program in Ukraine” project implemented by the international organization Internews Network. The content of the materials is solely the responsibility of the NGO “Institute of Mass Information” and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US government and the Internews Network.
The methodology is available here.