Journalists, activists will work together to fight misconduct with "Bloggers against Corruption"
A new project titled "Bloggers against Corruption" aims to create a network of journalists and civil society activists from different regions of Ukraine and provide them with a single resource, No Corruption! (http://nikorupciji.org/), an online forum where they can publish information about government corruption and abuse of power.
The project is a partnership between the Institute of Mass Information, international organization Freedom House and the Norwegian Embassy.
An increase in media censorship and paid-for stories ("jeansa") are leading to changes in news content. Decreasing are the number of socially important investigations of corruption and official misconduct by Ukrainian authorities. The trend is especially prominent at the local press level. Civic activists and independent journalists have picked up the slack, publishing stories on social networks and blogs. Previously, however, with such small audiences, bloggers' stories put little pressure on authorities and did not influence change in the way an investigation in a larger publication might.
At a press conference Monday morning, IMI Executive Director Victoria Syumar noted that the aim of the project is the development of professional public journalism.
"This system operates in many countries." Syumar said. "Citizen journalism has led to greater democratization of these countries, and a more professional media. Because the Internet is the only area of free thought in Ukraine, we have to develop this niche."
Renowned investigative journalist and chief editor of the website No Corruption!, Sergey Kuzin, must now form of a team of active bloggers in different regions of the country, where there are many voices, but no platform to speak out.
"The project will create an independent platform and support previously unknown bloggers who cover the topic of corruption on the ground," Kuzin said at the press conference. "Regional media is often owned by a member of the government or by oligarchs. Independent press here is almost gone."
According to Kuzin, all blogs must meet journalistic standards and materials must be balanced. "This is our greatest protection from potential harassment." IMI will provide necessary legal support to bloggers.
Matthew Schaaf, a representative of the human rights organization Freedom House, said at the press conference that the presence of a free press is a foundation of democracy.
"Every acute problem voiced by a blogger should reach the widest possible audience, if possible, international," Schaaf said.
In August and September of this year, IMI conducted a media training in Kherson, Luhansk, Ternopil and Kiev for bloggers from all over Ukraine. The participants will comprise the staff of No Corruption!.
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