Media Movement stood up for protection of journalists and StopFake's reputation
Media Movement “Media for conscious choice” urged Independent Media Council and Commission on journalistic ethics to deliver its opinion about three stories of Zaborona devoted to StopFake, whether they are conforming to the standards of professional journalistic investigation. Also Media Movement urged the law enforcement bodies to investigate in personal attacks targeting the journalists with Zaborona and StopFake. “Detektor Media" published the integral text of the statement:
The Media Movement regrets and resends both hostility and bullying against Katerina Sergatskova, co-founder of Zaborona, and threats to employees of StopFake, a fact-checking organization.
This situation appeared after publication an article by online media Zaborona where StopFake was accused of having a hand in blocking another Zaborona‘s text, which criticized Neo-Nazis, by Facebook administration. Zaborona also alleged that fact-checkers themselves are on close friendly terms with Neo-Nazis.
This publication of Zaborona sparked a remarkable response in Ukraine and abroad. Facebook administration reacted by saying that the first Zaborona‘s text was blocked by mistake. StopFake published a statement that rejected all Zaborona‘s charges, whereas they considerably damaged its reputation. Zaborona did not republish this statement but published two more materials of its own which repeated and confirmed the accusations.
This polemics also induced violent reaction in social networks, including hate speech and personal abuses, primarily against Katerina Sergatskova, who co-authored the material with charges against StopFake.
We believe that journalism should be not only free but also responsible. Any attempts to question the work of one’s colleagues should be carefully substantiated and based on undisputable facts. At the same time, any criticism should be treated and commented as a part of open discussion. This means that the conflict around Zaborona‘s publications should have been resolved solely inside the professional community.
The Media Movement strictly denounces personal abuses against journalists. We urge law-enforcement authorities to investigate this incident and hold the guilty ones accountable according to Ukrainian legislation. Personal security of journalists and freedom of speech should be a priority.
We also consider important the reputation of Ukrainian fact-checking organization StopFake, which claims that currently it is subjected to a systematic discrediting campaign.
In our view, this situation damages Ukrainian journalist community and civil society. Public squabbles, ungrounded personal accusations, abuses and threats that appeared in comments to this conflict in social networks are unacceptable. We urge to stop this practice and return to the framework of civilized discussion.
In order to start this professional discussion, we ask Independent media council and Commission on journalist ethics to deliver an opinion about the three materials of Zaborona devoted to StopFake, whether they conform to the standards of professional journalist investigation. Only having an impartial expert assessment one can launch a discussion about the matter of this conflict instead of its various partial interpretations.
"Media for a Conscious Choice" Media Movement was created on February 5, 2019. The first signatories to the Media Movement's memorandum were UA:Pershyi and Ukrainian Radio (Suspilne, UA:PBC), Hromadske Radio, Ukrinform, Interfax-Ukraine, Liga.net, Dzerkalo Tyzhnya, Novoye Vremya, Censor.Net, Channel 5, Ukrainian Week, Opinion, a number of regional media, NGOs Independent Media Council, NGO Detector Media, NGO Institute Mass Information, NGO Internews Ukraine, NGO Center for Democracy and Rule of Law, NGO Souspilnist Foundation, National Association of Media, NGO Donetsk Institute of Information, NGO Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy, the Zmina Human Rights Center and other organizations, individual journalists - over 70 participants in total. You can join or support the Media Movement by contacting its Coordinator Vadym Miskyi: firstname.lastname@example.org.