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18.09.2008

Ukrainian media in information special operations during the war in Georgia

   

This was the title of a study carried out by the company “pro mova” and the publication “Telekritika” and presented on 16 September. The study covered the period from 8 to 13 August and found lack of professionalism, infringements of the standards for presenting information, the lack of a position, deliberate or unintentional manipulation of the audience.

The main conclusions reached were:

  • lack of professionalism made it possible for propagandists to use Ukrainian channels for their own purposes. This was mainly seen by those on the Russian side, with the Georgians having considerably more limited opportunities;
  • lack of strategic (profile) capital in the Ukrainian media does not enable editorial boards to work at the appropriate professional level.
  • limited resources;
  • reactive rather than proactive decisions;
  • belated reactions to a crisis due to a lack of systematic management;
  • inability to systematically apply filters (checking information several times, for example);

The government did not cope with the task of “protecting information security”. It is clear that the criteria of compliance of news reports with modern international standards are not taken into consideration when issuing licences for the media in Ukraine.

Internet sites

The percentage of Russian sources during the first day ranged from 41 to 73%; on the second day from 44 to 86%; on the third – from 57 to 75%; on the fourth – from 30 to 66% and on the fifth – from 43 to 55%. It was only from 11 August that the use of western sources of information, albeit still inadequate, became noticeable – at 17%.

The analysts point out that this use of Russian sources gave a clear message to the Russian side that Ukrainian media outlets took an uncritical approach and was therefore fertile ground for propaganda purposes.

Even on 13 August when the focus turned towards discussing the significance of the war for Ukraine, Russian sources remained dominant.

Television

8 television channels were monitored.

The arguments from the Russian side about “defending Russian nationals living in South Ossetia” were actively presented in the Ukrainian media unsystematically and uncritically. The analysts report that especially in the first days the view of Georgia as aggressor dominated.

In the first days of the war the Russian side had an almost total monopoly on information regarding the number of casualties and obviously used inflated figures to justify their actions. Due to the lack of alternative information, for several days, channels repeated the figures of 1500-2000 casualties in Tskhinvali. The Georgian side was unable to provide figures regarding the real number of casualties in South Ossetia.

Georgia for its part proved unable to counter this strong and systematic information campaign. Its arguments were not as clear and vivid  As far as Ukraine was concerned, neither the Ukrainian political elite, nor the media were prepared to adequately respond to such events. The media chose to concentrate on military action, without discussing the real reasons for the conflict and without criticizing Russian military action in Georgia. This was particularly noticeable during the first days when the situation was unpredictable.

Based on information at www.telekritika.ua

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