Two years into the internally displaced persons (IDP) crisis in Ukraine, there continues to be both a humanitarian crisis and a crisis in reporting.
Journalists must hold authorities to account, tackle vested interests and speak up for those that have been displaced by obtaining accurate information and passing it on to the public.
But the results from a third wave of monitoring that analyses IDP coverage in local media for the project Regional Voices – a project implemented by a media consortium led by the Thomson Foundation and supported by the European Union – reveals that Ukrainian media is still failing in its coverage of IDPs.
During a public presentation of the findings last week, Helga Pender, EU sector manager for crisis response, spoke of the challenges that remain for those displaced by the conflict and the opportunities for media to present the problems in a balanced way “before rumour distorts the picture”.
Part of finding the answers starts with the media asking questions and holding authorities to account.
“Part of finding the answers starts with the media asking questions, holding the authorities to account and providing balanced assessments of the situation at a local and national level," she said.
"That’s why the EU continues to support regional media in their attempts to provide impartial reporting on challenges and opportunities for the displaced integrating into new communities across Ukraine, highlighting problems in a balanced way.”
Overall, stories on IDP issues increased slightly since the second monitoring period in February but this was largely due to statements issued by the authorities, which were very rarely neutral or nuanced.
“Mostly, the coverage was rather superficial or within the context of other topics, with a short supply of analytical or investigative approach”, said Lesya Yaroshenko of the Association Spilnyi Prostir. “Journalists tended to passively present statements of authorities without questioning or verifying them.”
However, following on from production training workshops provided by the Regional Voices project, certain media increased their coverage of human stories of IDPs on issues such as social adaptation and community life, which could contribute to a better informed public that is more likely to take an active interest and enlightened stand on social issues.
The monitoring took place on 1 – 14 June, with a sample that consisted of a total of 203 monitored media (50 TV channels, 66 print media and 87 online media outlets) in 24 regions of Ukraine divided into four parts (North/Centre, South, East and West). Four regional reports and a comparative analysis of this wave and two previous periods from October and February are available at http://regionalvoices.eu/en/monitoring.
The next monitoring reports will cover two weeks in October and will be published in November. For more information on the monitoring results, please contact Lesya Yaroshenko.
The Regional Voices project is implemented by a media consortium led by the Thomson Foundation and supported by the European Union.
You can find out more about the project here: regionalvoices.eu
Project Coordinator (Ukraine)
About: Olena is responsible for the coordination and preparation of all training events in Ukraine for the EU funded Regional Voices project which works with regional journalists to cover the stories of the internally displaced.