Media are not always using the freedom of speech to the benefit of the society. More than often it is rather an object of manipulation. One of the most visited news sites of Ukraine, Obozrevatel (‘The Observer’) topped the rating of most misinforming media. In 2018 the site Obozrevatel.com has been the worst is maintaining standards of journalism.
Catastrophic decline in the reporting quality
Institute for the Mass Information (IMI) in Kiev is studying the quality of the media. This is independent NGO with crystal clear reputation, funded by the Freedom House, “Reporters without Borders”, Embassy of USA in Ukraine, IFEX, Internews Network Inc. It partners with USAID, OSCE, UN and the Council of Europe to name a few.
Year by year IMI monitors media assessing the conformity to the standards of credibility and separation of facts from comments at important outlets.
Four quarters in a row one of the most popular news site in Ukraine, Obozrevatel.com, is trailing behind the crowd. IMI report states that in the Q4 2017 28 percent of the news published were lacking veracity. In Q1 2018 the negative dynamics was obvious while 32 percent of publications were considered violating the standards. In Q2 and Q3 it reached 40 and 46 percents.
“In total 46 percents of the news items were published without conformity to the professional standards. Most often the rules for veracity was violated. It happens in 24 percent of the published news articles. The majority of them were reprinted from the social networks” – wrote IMI. IMI will publish the report for the Q4 2018 soon.
Why Obozrevatel lies to its readers?
Some Ukrainian media just can’t cope with the world trends. Their way of operations has changed dramatically after it becomes legitimate to use social network inputs as a source of information. IMI underlines this issue in context of Obozrevatel.com analysis.
“It was found that the news on the resource [Obozrevatel] has low credibility. Published pieces point to less known profiles and groups of the social networks and links to the anonymous experts” – wrote the IMI analyst back in the beginning of 2018.
The second problem of the media in Ukraine is their dependency on political projects. Obozrevatel is tied to the political activist and businessmen Mikhail Brodsky. It is reflected on the media’s website twice. He is described both as ‘Ukrainian political figure‘ and ‘Chief of the Editorial Council‘.
Dec 19 2018 IMI has published an investigation on ‘tailored to the customer’s demand’ news targeting the election campaign in Ukraine. Presidential elections to be held March 31. Obozrevatel.com tops the rating of the media published biased news on the campaign. One week of IMI monitoring brought 65 biased articles. It is 19 more than closest competitor. “76 percent of the [news articles] were in political context” – IMI investigation states.
The year 2019 will be remarkable year for the Ukrainian media. In spring the nation will elect the president. In autumn the general elections to the parliament will be held and it will lead to the formation of the new government. The Institute for the Mass Information confirms that media will play a leading role in influencing the voters.
The current state with the occurrence of fake news in Ukraine is especially acute. With 46 percent of news categorized as fake and biased and Top-5 in popularity in the country Obozrvatel will surely take his place as #1 fake site in the important electoral campaign.