Ethics Commission condemns Ternopil newspaper’s scandalous article



The Journalist Ethics Commission has issued an assessment of the article in Nova Ternopilska Gazeta which created a scandal both within Ukraine and abroad.  The article entitled: “Arabs and Negroes fight over our prostitutes”.was about a brawl, allegedly between two men, one from an Arab country, the other from an African, over a local prostitute. The words and picture are profoundly offensive, although the Ternopil Regional Prosecutor’s Office recently announced that it had not found any reason to initiate criminal proceedings.

The Commission states that the application to provide an assessment came from some foreign students studying in Ternopil, as well as 19 Ukrainian and international NGOs in Ukraine.  Not only was the article offensive, but it had used real photographs of people unrelated to the incident in question, who had not been asked for their permission.

The applicants do not consider the article published later by the same newspaper “No to Racism!” to be either an apology or acceptance of the newspaper’s infringement of journalist standards.

The Commission outlines in detail both sides’ view with the Editor of the newspaper disagreeing that the article “No to Racism!” was insufficient, saying that they had recognized “a certain unethical aspect” of the photographic illustration and had issued an apology to the people photographed on the cover.  He asserts that he also apologised in person to foreign students and representatives of the institutes during a meeting.

He and his colleagues are convinced that they raised a sore subject in Ternopil, that being, he says, the behaviour of foreign students in the city, especially their attitude to Ukrainian women.

Having studied and analyzed the issue, the Journal Ethics Commission can state:

1)  The issue of relations between foreign students and the local population raised by Nova Ternopilska Gazeta does indeed contain many difficult aspects and is therefore important and high-profile. However the serious content of the public was unfortunately rendered meaningless by the form of its presentation. The tabloid nature of the headline and especially shocking illustration were designed to draw attention to the material, instead of provoking discussion of the issue as such and seeking ways of resolving it, it elicited the opposite effect.

2)  The ill-thought-out and light-hearted approach to presenting the publication fundamentally changed the focus and effectively discredited the subject of the journalist investigation.

3)  Whatever the intentions of those working in Nova Ternopilska Gazeta were, the result of the given publication is difficult to view in any other way than as an infringement of Article 15 of the Code of Journalist Ethics which states that “nobody shall be discriminated against over their gender, language, race, religion, national, religious or social origin or political preferences. One should only point out these features of a person (group of people) when the information is an integral part of the material”.

On the basis of the above, the Commission announces its civic condemnation of the Nova Ternopilska Gazeta editorial board.

Head of the Journalist Ethics Commission, V. Mostovy

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