The biggest problem for regional journalists is the lack of openness of officials


Journalists from the Donetsk region say that their main problem in working with official sources is lack of openness of officials. “Journalists complain that public officials are reluctant to communicate with them, comment on their decisions and answer hard-hitting questions”, Serhiy Huz, Head of the Media Trade Union reports. “Of course not all officials behave in this way, however over all bureaucracy arouses negative feelings from the journalists”. The Media Trade Union representatives came to this conclusion during a training session on access to official information held in Donetsk and Kramatorsk on the first and second of February.

During the course journalists gained practice in overcoming the bureaucratic barrier; seeking alternative sources of information; using official documents and creating their own networks of information sources. However here the general rule of bureaucracy holds firm: first get the management’s permission and then talk to the press. This practice is widespread not only in Donetsk and Kramatorsk, but also in Lviv and Kyiv.

The training sessions in the Donetsk region concluded the first stage in studying the situation with journalists’ access to official information and public officials in Donetsk, Lviv and Kyiv. Over this time around 60 experts and 150 journalists were surveyed in the three cities, and documents gathering which regulate relations with the press in the main authorities. At present this information is being analyzed by specialists and lawyers. The results will be published in March during a series of roundtables attended by representatives of journalist organizations and the authorities.

The Media Trade Union’s partners in this long-term programme are the Institute of Mass Information and the civic organization “Journalist initiative” (Dnipropetrovsk). Financial support has been provided by the  International Renaissance Foundation

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