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Up to 50% of Ukrainians consider vaccine more dangerous than COVID-19 - Usaid-Internews poll

17.11.2021, 14:58

Between one-third and 50 percent of Ukrainians are inclined to believe in fake news, this is evidenced by this year's USAID – Internews’s poll "Attitudes Toward the Media and Consumption of Different Types of Media." The survey also found that the majority of Ukrainians had an experience of being misinformed by the media.

Together with media organizations and media literacy partners such as the Institute of Mass Information, Detector Media, Internews-Ukraine, the Ukrainian Press Academy, the Philip Orlyk Institute for Democracy, the online publications Texts and BezBrehni, the Internews has prepared a short test to determine how in practice respondents could distinguish quality news from misinformation.

The results of the test showed a significant increase in the number of citizens who correctly determined which information was true and which was not in each of the three news proposed (11% was in 2020; 24% in 2021) . Only 6% of respondents did not give any correct answer, much better than in previous years.

However, the results of the study were not so positive when respondents were asked about the spread of misinformation. Most Ukrainians have encountered such news and even more disturbingly, many have believed them. This is of particular concern when it comes to misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine: 68% of respondents have heard the news saying that the vaccine by itself is more dangerous than the coronavirus, and 49% said they believed it to be true.

"While we have some grounds for optimism, as Ukrainians are showing better media literacy skills than in previous years, there is still a lot of work to be done. More people than ever rely primarily on social media to get news and, as a result, they get some false and malicious rhetorics that endanger their lives. Now the most important thing is to provide citizens with access to reliable information and promote the active development of their personal resilience to misinformation,  " said Gillian McCormack, Director of  Internews in Ukraine.

This year's USAID-Internews poll on media consumption revealed further problems with television as a source of news and information. Only 46% of respondents said they watched television to receive news, compared to 85% in 2015. Confidence has fallen to its lowest level since the survey began, with only 40% of respondents saying they trust television news.

In personal interviews, researchers found that  63 % of respondents used social media to get news, which is only 1% more than last year. Facebook remains the most popular social media among Ukrainians, and Telegram continues to be popular for almost all age groups (except 50+), which is 2% more than last year.

Although trust is highest in online media, the trust rate has dropped from 48% in 2020 to 44% in 2021. At the same time, focus group participants said that they sometimes considered them unreliable and biased. Most other types of media remained at the same low level of trust, with only radio and print media recovering slightly. National Radio received 3% more trust (24% in 2021 against 21% in 2020  ); regional radio got 3% more (25% in 2021 against 22% in 2020). National print media received 22% (19% in 2020), and regional print media added 1% (23% in 2021 versus 2.2 %  in 2020).

When it comes to informing citizens about current reforms, the government and the media need to do more. About 45% of respondents said they were unaware of reforms in education, pensions, health, energy, land and decentralization.

The vast majority of Ukrainians surveyed were in favor of equal rights: 84% of respondents said that women and men should be equally represented in the media, and 82% said that the media should satisfy the interests of different groups in society.

Finally, important news for media outlets that are beginning to use the club and subscription model of self-suffiency: 20% of Ukrainians are willing to pay to get access to their favorite online media. 

The full presentation can be downloaded here: Survey of the population's attitude to the media and consumption of different types of media - 2021.

The study "Attitudes of the population to the media and consumption of different types of media in 2021" was conducted by the sociological company InMind  commissioned by the international non-profit organization Internews, which implements the "Media Program in Ukraine" with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The main purpose of the study is to study the habits of Ukrainians regarding media consumption, as well as their trust in the media, to assess the level of media literacy and public awareness of the implementation of reforms in Ukraine. In July-August this year, InMind  representatives surveyed 4,000 respondents in 12 regions of Ukraine. The sampling error does not exceed 2.5%.

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