Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Freedom of expression

Well-known Ukrainian news presenters teach future journalists about freedom of speech


Why it’s better for journalists not to lie, and what methods they should apply, to not be subjected to censorship and to oppose it.  This was what leading Ukrainian masters of the pen have set out to teach journalism students.

They come to journalism romantic and naïve. In their first year the future media people want to change the world. They’re usually not yet working in the media, but they promise themselves that they will never write material on order, and won’t take money for concealed advertising of a particular firm or political party.

Hanna Bezeiko, student of the Journalism Institute (2nd year)

“I’ll refuse because later there’ll be consequences that are much worse than simply not having money right now. Better I go and borrow money, and pay it back later. Writing material for money – I think that’s …”

However, never say never. After finishing a journalist institute, and often while studying, romantic promises change in accordance with the number of zeros in the amount offered. Therefore experienced colleagues, including those experienced in the fight against censorship and “temnyks” [these were “instructions” in Kuchma’s time on what to cover and how, and what to ignore entirely – translator], want to show them how to act on the media market.

Mykola Veresen, independent journalist

“There is always a choice. That’s why it’s a pretty riveting profession if you keep it inside you, that there are simply many things that need to be ignored that in principle it’s not worth ignoring”

Yehor Sobolyev, Channel 5 presenter:

“There are wonderful young spirits with excellent views who then turn into cynical pragmatists ready to sell themselves for amounts that are anything but small. We want to teach them about this transitional stage when they find themselves in the media. About how people will try to buy, sell, pressurize, and why they need to fight it, and how.”

True the journalist teachers cannot predict how many of their future colleagues will be helped by their words about it being better to be honest, especially if they’re confronted by a big fat pile of banknotes. And yet, despite professional scepticism, they hope that it will be all of them.

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