UKRAINE

LOCAL JOURNALISM IN TIMES OF THE PANDEMIC

Only 47 percent of Ukrainians would make use of free coronavirus vaccination recommended by the WHO. Only 17.6 percent believe that the pandemic has a natural origin, 66 percent rather think it was created in a laboratory, and as many as 36.7 percent believe it is a targeted means of reducing the world population.

The results of a survey carried out by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) in the summer of 2020 are hardly surprising in view of the disinformation and conspiracy theories that are prevalent in social media in particular and are often attributed to pro-Russian sources. This has real-life implications: Despite rising infection rates, hygiene measures and social-distancing provisions appear virtually unknown, at least outside of Kiev.

Local journalists could play an important role in curbing disinformation, but they too often rely on information from their Facebook timelines. Journalistic standards are deficient, articles are often based on reports from “eye-witnesses” on the internet. This is precisely where a series of practice-oriented online seminars picks up, organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation jointly with the Academy of the Ukrainian Press. Demand is high: young journalists and students participate as well as bloggers, social media managers or journalism lecturers from all parts of Ukraine.

Fact-checking and eureka moments

Using real-life cases, they learn how to recognize incorrect information and check messages for their truthfulness. Homework is set after each online meeting: For instances of disinformation about the local corona status quo, participants research the real background and publish their own articles. In the end, they will not only have learned practical tools for fact-checking. Some Facebook contacts which might previously have appeared trustworthy are exposed in the process. Hopefully, some are also set to rethink conspiracy theories they may have believed.

In the ranking of Reporters Without Borders Ukraine is placed on 96 out of 180 countries.

In Ukraine, disinformation poses a particular threat to democracy, open society and national security. FNF Ukraine, together with Deutsche Welle Academy, promotes creative approaches to raise awareness of this problem and to improve media literacy. At the beginning of October 2020, 20 Ukrainian artists met with senior journalists and illustrators. They created artwork in order to combat disinformation.

Artists sign up for individual consultations with the experts.

Vitalii Shostya, artist and professor at the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture, speaks about stylistic devices of poster art.

Presentation of the final results of the ArtMarathon.

“Planet Covid-19”, Oleksandr Shulha

“Inforace”, Astian Rey

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