Venal journalists earn mention
The initiative “Were not for sale!” has named the company which ordered the most news and the television channel which sold the most.
An actual “prize” of thirty UAH and a symbolic banknote for one million US dollars with the portrait of the president of the company were the prizes for the “winners” based on the results of the initiatives November monitoring.
The results of scrutinizing 11 television channels were announced on 11 December at the Ukrainian National Union of Journalists by members of the Expert Council of the Initiative. These included the Director of the Institute for Mass Information Victoria Syumar, the Chief Editor of “Telekritika” Natalya Ligachova, the Director of the Media Law Institute Taras Shevchenko and the Director of Publicity for the business newspaper “Dyelo” Vitaly Maximov.
“We must not deceive our audience. Our viewers, listeners and readers must know that what we tell them is the truth. We ourselves are to blame that confidence in journalists is falling”. This was the message from Ihor Lubchenko from the National Union of Journalists. He and his organization welcome the initiative of hundreds of journalists who at the beginning of November committed themselves to not prepare or broadcast material which is not up to professional statements and which has the hallmarks of “jeansa”, i.e. covert advertising. Obviously not even ten such initiatives can eliminate the malaise of commissioned news items altogether, however they can stop it spreading widely through the Ukrainian media realm.
25 subjects were the “catch” made by the monitoring group which is made up of television journalists and presenters whose names are not divulged. According to Natalya Ligachova, the Expert Council received double that number for consideration however they selected the most glaring infringements of standards which could indicate that the material had been commissioned. “We are not calling these features commissioned, since after all only the court can decide that, however we are pointing to serious infringements”, Ms Ligachova stressed.
Of the 25 pieces of reporting in which the experts unanimously identified flagrant infringements of the standards for relevance, significance and balanced presentation, 9 related to the NNEGC [National Nuclear Energy Generating Company] Energoatom
At the request of the initiative “Were not for sale!”, “Telekritika” carried out an investigation which established that Energoatom via the PR agency “Radnyk” was placing paid features in information programmes. Such material had been shown on three television channels – ICTV, “1 + 1” and “Era”.
Vitaly Maximov pointed out that the money which Energoatom spends on buying news time comes from the State Budget, that is, from taxpayers pockets.
The “prize” went to “Facts” on ICTV (at 18.45) which had by far the greatest number of dubious news features (11) with the next in line being “Summary” on “Era” at 23.00.
Victoria Syumar made special mention of the four channels on which they had found no suspicious material: Channel 5, UTV-1, TONIS and “Inter”. She expressed the hope that after the publishing of the results of their monitoring, the editorial offices of the television channels which run commissioned material will begin an internal discussion into this, and that they will understand that such material destroys the media market.
The Initiative decided not to make public the name of the presenter with the largest number of suspect features. They hope that their colleagues will find in themselves the will and determination to reject such unlawful and unprofessional practice in December already.