The 3d Donbas Media Forum was held in Svyatohirsk on June 27-29. It was attended by participants from all towns of Donbas and the majority of Ukrainian regions. Donbas Media Forum goal is to develop tolerant media space in Donbas and Ukraine with further refusal of hate speech. Donbas Media Forum is a platform for a dialogue between regional and international media, cultural initiatives, and public organizations with the aim of developing civil society and strengthening principles of independent journalism in the region.
The main slogan of the Forum is “Donbas in Media: from populism to facts”.
The following NGOs were the sponsored the event: Donetsk Institute of Information, Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy, Donetsk Press Club; the following NGOs were the partners of the event: Anti-Crisis Media Center, Public Control Center Diy, Donbas Public TV, Media in Cooperation and Transition. The Forum itself and some panels were financially supported by the US Embassy in Ukraine, USAID, EU Delegation to Ukraine, Internews, the Embassy of Switzerland in Ukraine, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany.
“Donbas has become a pretext for political populism which penetrates journalism and makes content consumers perceive the crisis through the prism of this or that medium. That lowers local consumers’ level of trust to Ukrainian media. Journalism standard violations are taking place when reporting about crisis-sensitive themes. Psychological traumas of journalists themselves influence content quality. To overcome the above problems, the following topics are to be discussed within the framework of the Forum: political populism or standards of journalism; raising the efficiency of Donbas media editorial offices’ work (management, attraction of resources, new technologies, content variety, etc.), conflict- sensitive journalism in times of crisis,” said Oleksiy Matsuka, Head of the Board of NGO Donetsk Institute of Information and one of the Forum organizers, at the opening ceremony.
“The situation in the East is a priority for the EU. We understand perfectly well what is going on here and we are ready to help with solving problematic issues. We understand perfectly well how the conflict started and that journalists have a great responsibility for helping to solve the problem. That is why we are financing the event. We understand that a lot of pain has been accumulated here, among you, that it is necessary to speak about it and that it is necessary to listen to each other and to respect each other’s opinions. It is necessary for you to demonstrate that you are ready to initiate a dialogue and solve the conflict,” said David Stulik, Press Attaché of the European Union Delegation to Ukraine.
“Exchange of views and opinions; I observe synergy when people are communicating; all the people present are learning from each other, and we are going forward. You as journalists may get stronger, individually and as a group. Journalism and media are very important for the things happening here, and for Ukraine, and for Europe... Ukraine has made a huge step forward, with journalism being a part of the process,” said Geoffrey Anisman, Press Attaché of the Us Embassy in Ukraine.
The Forum started with the presentation made by Svitlana Yeremenko, representative of NGO Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy (POID) who is also one of the organizers of the event. She said, “Ukraine managed to regain freedom of speech. There may be discussions of the issue, and some people have a different point of view. However, I think there is freedom of speech in Ukraine, and there are positive things that have happened for three years, since the time Yanukovych left the country.” Yeremenko presented the research of media conducted by POID on the eve of the Forum in Svyatohirsk.
Four panel discussions and 24 master classes were held within the framework of the Forum.
During the panel discussion Loyal to the Regime or Independent Journalism, the following issues were discussed: journalist self-regulation or self-censorship when covering military conflicts; what is of primary importance for a journalist who covers a military conflict: patriotism, civic engagement or professionalism; what the term “post-truth journalism” means, why “post-truth” was nominated “the word of the year” by Oxford Dictionary editors, why post-truth and non-observance of professional standards by journalists threatens Ukraine. The moderator was Andriy Dikhtyarenko, Radio Liberty journalist, editor of The Realna Hazeta. Speakers: Vadym Lubchak, The Den’ newspaper journalist; Andriy Shapovalov, head of the Luhansk regional managing subsidiary of the Public Joint Stock Company National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine; Oleha Holub, media expert, NGO Institute of Mass Information analyst; Yuriy Kostiuchenko, executive secretary of the System Analysis Committee of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine; Oleha Sadovnyk, Thomson Foundation project coordinator.
Panel discussion: Opportunities for Local Media Offered by International Donors and the European Union Institutions was devoted to the following issues: existing opportunities for local media funding with the help of international aid for Ukraine; the criteria media organizations should correspond to to get aid; indicators of media organizations work efficiency which donors assess. Moderator — Lyubov Palivoda, President of NGO CCC Creative Center. Speakers: David Stulik, Press Attaché of the EU Delegation to Ukraine; Victoria Marchenko, Program Manager, Civil Society and Media, USAID; Matthias Konrad, the First Secretary of the German Embassy in Ukraine; Ben Robinson, journalist and photographer; Johanna Rogozynska, senior programme manager of National Endowment for Democracy in Europe; Oleh Pastukhov, expert of the Media Development Fund of the USA Embassy in Ukraine.
Panel discussion: Conflict-Sensitive Journalism in Times of Crisis was devoted to recommendations for MM concerning the ways of lighting crises and their consequences; during the discussion the following themes were covered: journalists' safety in the conditions of crises, international standards and practices of conflict-sensitive journalism, recommendations on the work with groups of people — victims of conflict consequences. The participants will also discuss the influence of the language on lighting conflicts, ways of avoiding hostility and stereotypes, ways of conducting conflict-sensitive interviews, main principles of journalism ethics with respect to the conflict. Serhiy Tomilenko, Head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (Kyiv) was the discussion moderator. The speakers included: Nicolas Ebnöther, Associate Project Officer at the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (Vienna, Austria); Jeta Xharra, founder of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), leader of Life of Kosovo program (Pristina, Kosovo); Gabrielle Kaprielian Cunin, program manager of Fondation Hirondelle organization (Switzerland); Alex Anderson, former manager of International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in Kosovo.
The fourth panel discussion How to Build Communication between Power with Society and Local Community was devoted to the following themes: whether cooperation between the power and journalists is possible, what reasons for cooperation there are, effective models of involving community into the process of local self-governing through media and public campaigns, proposals concerning strategic communication of power with society. The moderator was Tetiana Oharkova, public organization Ukrainian Crisis Media Center. The speakers included: Yevhen Hlibovytsky, partner of Pro.Mova consulting company; Oleksandr Kliuzhev, analyst of public network Opora; Oleksiy Haran, research director of Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, Doctor of History, Professor of Political Science Department of the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy; Iryna Bekeshkina, director of Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation; Tetyana Yakubovych, journalist of Radio Liberty and Donbas Realities Radio; Tetyana Ihnatchenko, Donetsk regional Military and Civil Administration speaker, Pavlo Zhebrivsky’s presser.
Special events which took place during the Forum included:
Videos of the master classes to be available on Donbas Media Forum site and in a special rubric of Donetsk Institute of Information site.