Two people highlighted in reports by journalists training with the EU funded Regional Voices project in Ukraine illustrate the personal impact of the programme on some of the country’s internally displaced persons, (IDPs).
Pensioner Leonid Polegnkyi was living in poverty in Odessa having fled Crimea, student Anton Moshchynskvi from the Donetsk region faced eviction from his university accommodation in Kyiv.
Their plights were featured by journalists taking part in a two year training programme aimed at regional media organisations run by the Thomson Foundation and the international Institute for Regional Media and Information (Irmi). It focused on addressing social tensions resulting from the conflict through better, more ethically balanced coverage of the issues that affect the 1.7 million people who have fled their homes.
This emphasis on regional media was one of the strengths of the project noted in the conclusions of an evaluation report prepared for the Thomson Foundation.
“The ability for the media to serve their Fourth Estate function and hold its leaders and the state accountable requires regional voices as much if not more than simply relying on ‘Kyiv voices,’ ” it concludes.
Reporter Marina Kud was one of more than a thousand regional journalists, media managers and communications specialists who are now part of a regional network formed during the project.
Whilst attending a Regional Voices workshop in Kyiv she interviewed Anton a 21 year old student at Kyiv polytechnic university who was facing eviction from his accommodation along with 350 others who had fled from their homes in the Donbass region and Crimea.
A bureaucratic hold up had resulted in a delay in them receiving special payments to help with accommodation and tuition fees.
Her report was followed up by other media organisations and after changes in the payment process many of the displaced students have been able to continue with their studies.
Displaced students fight for rights - Marina Kud
Pensioner Leonid Polegnkyi’s appearance on a talk show on national Ukrainian television was the result of a report by journalists attending a Regional Voices’ workshop in Odessa. The local authorities were refusing to pay Leonid’s pension because in his hurry to flee he had left his documents behind in Crimea and was unable to retrieve them.
Following his appearance on national television, a group of leading lawyers took up his cause. This case set a precedent and he along with thousands of other IDPs are now receiving their pensions.
These news stories were among 400 produced by journalists to address the sudden and very real humanitarian crises that were posed by the displaced persons for which Ukrainian media was unprepared.
Regional Voices (RV) aimed amongst other objectives to address issues around; conflict prevention through access to information, media credibility and public confidence, journalistic quality and inclusive content and regional and national coverage of IDP concerns and issues.
The Thomson Foundation is one of the few media development organisations working with regional media worldwide. In Ukraine and in many other countries the media remains very capital citycentric - a point noted in the project's evaluation report which suggests that, without proper development of the media organisations and support for journalists outside the capital, democratisation efforts and conflict resolutions in Ukraine are put at risk.
In one of its main conclusions the report focuses on the potential for further support for regional media; “The Regional Voices project has provided a very strong foundation for what could become a targeted and strategic future programme that would work with local and regional media – the same outlet and networks of journalists who are at the heart of the RV project.”
Reporter Eugene Kugel meets two IDPs who fought in eastern Ukraine and now are struggling to adapt to family life.
Svyatoslav Bolenko's report looks at the acute housing need of the thousands of IDPs who fled Crimea.
Reporter Olyona Soroka looks how the young and older generations of IDPs react differently to their new homes.
Head of Training and Communications
About: Deborah plays a key part in developing and promoting our training programmes and is our specialist on gender in media. Her recent training projects have centred on digital and mobile journalism.