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Police in a positive light. How did Ukrainian media cover work of cops

22.03.2021, 19:18

Ukrainian online media cover the work of the police more positively than negatively. At the same time, more than 60% of news about the police relate to criminal news.

These are the results of the monitoring of the Institute of Mass Information of 18 online editions to analyze how they were covering the activities of law enforcement agencies and courts during February 22-28. In total, the sample included 2009 news items, of which 753 (or 37.5%) concerned the police and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

"Positive Police"

One of the subjects of the study was to identify the tone of the news about the activities of law enforcement. Thus, it was found that the positive reports were four times higher than the negative ones : 208 and 51, respectively. At the same time, almost two thirds of the news related to the police were presented in a neutral light.

Among the positive news about the police, IMI experts included those that delt with the successful activities of law enforcement agencies: they detained a criminal, exposed illegal activities, issued note of suspicions and so on.

The most positive news during the monitoring period was published on the website - 69, or 42.3% of all reports of the site that mentioned the police. Then it followed by and ((in terms of number of positive news on police). The site became the only one with more than half of the news about the police being positive : 57.8%. Instead,, and have a positive-negative balance in favor of the latter.

Examples of positive news about the police:

"Korrespondent": Thieves were detained in Odessa together with a vault ;
Segodnya: Ammunition found in basement in Bakhmut district ;
"Censor": Bribes in the Lviv regional administration: the official is detained with a bribe ;
Gordon: Police staged a special operation in Kyiv to detain people who fired into the air ;
TSN: Investigators of the National Police exposed people for illegal seizure of 160 million hryvnias .
The site became the only one who did not please its readers with positive news about the police during the week. And visitors to the sites , and did not see any negative news .

Examples of negative news:

"Censor": Corruption in the police: the captain of the National Police in Kramatorsk extorted bribes for weapons permits: the fixed price was 6 thousand UAH ;
"Strana": A policeman selling drugs in Kyiv faces imprisonment ;
TSN: Kyiv news: a policeman turned out to be a drug dealer, the indictment was sent to court ;
"Suspilne": In the Frankivsk region, a police officer ran down with a car a pensioner ;
Channel 24: In Dnipro, police stormed the wrong house .
494 news (65.6%) about the police were identified by IMI experts as neutral messages. The vast majority of such news (299) were, in fact, criminal reports: killed, robbed, stolen, an accident occurred.

Examples of neutral news:

Interfax: In Kharkiv region, a grenade was thrown into the yard of a private house, no one was injured ;
Ukrayinska Pravda: A shooting took place in a cafe in Dnipro ;
"Channel 24": road accident near Odessa: the driver drove into a concrete wall ;
"Politeka": The truck ran over an elderly woman in Odessa, video of the accident: she wanted to cross the road ;
"Gordon": In the Zaporozhye region, two cars collided, several people died on the spot .
Most news about crime was published on the website (64), (37) and (24), the least - in (3), (1), and none in bykva. com . Most news about criminal news (207 out of 299) have official websites, press service reports or official pages in social networks of departments and police officers, the Ministry of Internal Affairs as primary sources. In essence, this is a "copypaste" of official announcements, about which there is a huge question of the appropriateness of the appearance of this information in the news feeds of national sites.

Examples of criminal news:

"Strana": In Odessa, a woman threw a cat from the 10th floor ;
"Today": Release of a hostage in Poltava region - the police conducted a curious operation ;
TSN: A wounded half-breed bull terrier was found in Solomyanka in Kyiv: the police are looking for the owners ;
TSN: Lviv news: a man killed a neighbor's dog to death ;
Channel 24: In Zhytomyr Region, a woman joked that she had killed a neighbor .
PR with rallies to support Sternenko

Protests in support of Serhiy Sternenko continued in Ukraine during the monitoring period. The behavior of the police at these rallies was widely covered: 174 messages on all sites from the list of research (23.1% of all news about the police). The most frequent source of this news was the resources of the police and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (62 news items), another 51 materials were the editorial board's own information.

Despite the clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers near the President's Office, the work of police officers at Sternenko supporters' rallies in Kyiv, Odesa, and Zhytomyr was generally covered in a neutral manner. Among all the news on this topic, 125 were neutral on the actions of the cops, 35 were positive and only 14 were negative.

Sources for news with negative assessments of the behavior of law enforcement officers at the protests were social networks and editorial materials. Examples of news with negative ratings:

"Bukvy": Clashes took place in Zhytomyr between the police and Sternenko's supporters
TSN: I started to fuck on the head. I didn't touch them at all, - I was detained by policemen on actions near Office of the President
Ukrinform: Action in support of Sternenko: a clash between activists and police took place in Zhytomyr
Ukrinform: In Odessa, activists came to the pre-trial detention center where Sternenko is being held
"Correspondent": At the Bank clash over Sternenko's sentence
30 out of 35 positive news about the actions of police officers at the protests were the primary source of statements by Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko, the other five were information resources of the police and the Interior Ministry. Examples of news with positive reviews:

"Censor": Gerashchenko Anton: They did not equip the police with batons and tear gas to prevent violence ;
Gordon: Maybe that's why he was peaceful? Gerashchenko noted that ex-People's Deputy Parasyuk was not present at the rally in support of Sternenko ;
Ukrayinska Pravda: The Ministry of Internal Affairs thanked the participants of the rally in support of Sternenko in Kyiv .
The high profile topic also became the biggest occasion for law enforcement PR. Of all the 65 PR news that IMI experts found in the news during the monitoring period, 35 concerned rally to support Sternenko:

"Segodnya": "We are calmer than in the Capitol": Avakov told about the protests in the center of Kiev
"Korrespondent": The Ministry of Internal Affairs thanked for the peaceful protest in Kiev
Interfax: Deputy Interior Minister: Police will not be used to attack protesters in support of Sternenko on Bankova
Other PR materials can be described as creating a "human face" for the law enforcement system:

"Censor": Crime detection in Ukraine: in 2020 the National Police investigated more than 60 thousand crimes
Ukrinform: The Ministry of Internal Affairs is implementing the Connect Pro system for people with hearing impairments
Channel 24: A swan was rescued in Vinnytsia region
"Suspilne": In the Mykolaiv region the police officer will work on a new office car
"Censor": Exercises of the National Guards in Volyn: Lutsk National Guards trained in field combat
Personally, the Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov got into the news with PR on the initiative to issue a coin with the image of Vasily Slipak, who died in the anti-terrorist operation. News about the relevant appeal of the Minister to the National Bank was posted by Obozrevatel , Censor and Interfax .

Manipulation "OPFL bus"

Of all the news, only eight were found to contain manipulations. The main topic for manipulation was the detention of the "OPFL bus".

On February 25, on the air of the "60 Minutes" program on the "Russia-1" TV channel, People's Deputy Ilya Kiva announced that employees of the "Opposition Platform - For Life" office were being detained. At the moment I am in the office of the Opposition Platform - For Life. The Security Service of Ukraine is working downstairs, a special unit that is arresting people right now. Nobody knows about it yet. "Such are the conditions we have today. The staff of the Office of the Opposition Platform - For Life is being arrested ," the Gordon website quoted Kiva as saying .

In fact, no one detained the OPFL representatives. That day in Kiev there was a shooting in which malefactors used two buses. It was these buses that the police searched for as part of Operation Sirena. A similar bus was found near the OPZH office. " This was the reason for conducting urgent investigative actions, ie they are in no way related to the political activities of this party ," the SBU quoted the Liga website as saying .

Nevertheless, in the news on this topic, several sites voiced fakes and manipulations of Kiwi, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov and the statement of OPFL:

"Strana": Searches and arrests in the Kiev office of Oppoplatform on Shota Rustaveli ;
Strana: The Kremlin has said that searches and arrests in the OPFL office are repression ;
"Correspondent": A bus of a security company was detained under the office of OPFL ;
"Gordon": Kiva said that the SBU detained employees of the office of the party OPFL .
Other manipulations were recorded in the news about the actions in support of Sternenko.

So, in the news of the Censor site the Facebook post of the participant of protest Stanislav Fedorchuk is quoted. " Ukrainians are warming themselves by the burning helmet of a police officer. This is how real civil society reacts to violations by courts, prosecutors and the police . The real thing is looking for reasons to stay at home, " Fedorchuk wrote.

The Strana website made the news with a manipulative statement by Anton Gerashchenko, at the same time making it in the headline: "Sternenko's supporters will come to Bankova to destroy the police ." In another piece of news, Strana manipulatively described the confrontation during a rally on Bankova Street: "The sluggish struggle of the Nanai boys . Some pretend to be trying to break through the border. Others are trying to hold it back . "


In covering police activities, Ukrainian websites abuse the criminal chronicle . The monitoring revealed 299 news items (or 39.7% of the total number of news about police activities), which are reports of criminal events: killed, robbed, stolen, an accident occurred.

Another 174 news items related to the successful activities of law enforcement agencies: the criminal was detained, illegal activities were exposed, and suspicion was announced. That is a total of 62.8% of news of a criminal nature. For two-thirds of this news, the source of information is online law enforcement resources. In fact, this is the usual "copypaste" from the sites and social networks of the police and the Interior Ministry. And the correspondence of such news to the level of national sites and the level of professional standards of journalism is doubtful, one of which is balance.

Unfortunately, site editors prefer criminal news because of its clickability. During the monitoring, IMI experts noted that crime news could receive relatively high views.

The monitoring revealed manipulations in the news and PR materials in favor of law enforcement agencies, in particular personally the Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov. However, it should be noted that the share of such materials in the total number of news items was insignificant.

The monitoring analysis was conducted on February 22–28, 2021 in 18 national online media (10 top-rated, seven media that signed the Media Movement's memorandum for compliance with professional standards, as well as two sites that expressed a desire to be on the list of media to be monitored): .com,,,,,,,,, (M), (M), (M), (M), (M), (M), (M), (M). The sample is 2009 news.

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 contents are the sole responsibility of the Institute for Mass Information and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government or the Internews Network.

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