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Marichka Varenikova, NYT: Criticism of the government shows Ukraine as a democracy

22.05.2024, 13:15
Marichka Varenikova, The New York Times, believes criticism of the government is a sign of democracy in Ukraine. Photo by the Lviv Media Forum
Marichka Varenikova, The New York Times, believes criticism of the government is a sign of democracy in Ukraine. Photo by the Lviv Media Forum

It is necessary for the media to criticise the government, as it proves that Ukraine is a democracy, shows the state's openness and stimulates international support, said Marichka Varenikova, The New York Times freelance correspondent and producer, during the Institute of Mass Information event "Frontline reporting: access challenges and possible solutions" at the Lviv Media Forum on May 17.

"The only way Ukrainian journalists can make a differene is with interesting stories, the openness of the authorities, and debunking the idea that the media showing negativity is bad. No, the media shows the truth – negative or positive – and that's a good thing. It would be great if there was an understanding in all branches of the government that criticism of it is proof of Ukraine's democracy," Marichka said.

Oksana Romaniuk, director of the Institute of Mass Information and the event's moderator, added that if the media does not show the full picture, people will turn to alternative, sometimes dubious sources of information.

"We can see from the trust in the united telethon, which has been on the decline for two years and counting, that a uniform and thoroughly pretty picture is simply not believable. People understand that everything can not be perfect. It is very important to show the whole picture – this demonstrates that Ukraine is a democratic state.

"Only a democratic state will get support. For the domestic consumer, this is a matter of trust in the authorities and institutions. Here is a problem, here is how it was solved. If you show no problem at all, people will bypass the joint telethon and look for information elsewhere, for example, in some low-quality sources," Oksana noted.

Marichka Varenikova added: dangerous narratives claiming that journalists are the people's enemies benefit our adversary. After all, discrediting the media makes it easier to sow disinformation and propaganda.

"A dangerous narrative one can often hear from officials and the military is that a journalist is often perceived as an enemy: 'You left and a missile fell down immediately,' 'You are capitalizing on the war,' 'You need hype and scoops,' 'You came here to make a career.' I have heard it while working with foreign media, and I am sure that my Ukrainian colleagues have heard it too.

"I believe it is very important to mention here who really benefits from such ideas about journalists who report the truth being promoted around the world. We know who benefits from this – our enemy. If they discredit journalists, these journalists are no longer trusted, which makes it easier to influence people through disinformation and propaganda," she concluded.

As reported earlier, Marichka Varenikova has said that foreign media may have more access to exclusives or interviews with high-ranking officials, but less access to the actual war and the people.

Previously, IMI reported on Kharkiv, Sumy, and Kherson journalists working at shelling sites.

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