Ukrainian media increasing focus on MDGs and Post-2015

28 Apr 2014

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A vibrant democracy relies on the pluralist participation of all sectors of society, including journalists, and democracy flourishes best when journalists are able to provide civil society with the information it needs to formulate informed positions on economic, social, and political matters. Ukrainian media has yet to overcome a number of challenges and growing pains pertaining to budding democracy. Fair or not, it is often accused of being extremely sensational, superficial, and mostly interested in politics, crime and vanity.

“We came to the conclusion that very often journalists avoid writing about complex issues simply because they don’t understand the complexity of the problem, don’t know where to get the data, how to make sense of it, and how to explain it in simple terms,” said Olexiy Pogorelov, the Ukrainian Press Association president.

The Union of TV and Radio broadcasters, the Ukrainian Press Association, and the United Nations Development Programme joined forces to bridge these gaps and co-organized a conference to discuss ethical standards and the role of journalism in the time of crisis. The parners also initiated a special category for the best media material on MDGs and Post-2015 within the national “Pulitzer” – the Ukrainian Annual Professional Journalism Contest “Honor of the Profession”.

The organizers have received more than 116 articles and TV reports covering a host of topical issues ranging from in-depth analysis of poverty factors in Ukraine, coverage of global sustainable development summits, and journalist investigations on human rights violations against people with disabilities and people living with HIV.

Prior to the contest the UNDP project “Acceleration of the Millennium Development Progress in Ukraine”, in partnership with the Association, has organized a series of hands-on workshops on MDGs, green economy, and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, aimed at raising Ukrainian journalists’ awareness of the important social issues faced by Ukraine. 

Leading Ukrainian experts from the Institute of Demography and Social Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and the President’s National Institute of Strategic Studies, who served as trainers, explained the issues and key drivers of multidimensional poverty, green economy, social exclusion, and inequality, and engaged the journalists in discussion.

Journalists representing leading media outlets from all over Ukraine learned how to find and analyze the data, trace emerging trends, and translate heavy statistical information and analysis into an interesting story that their readers would relate to and understand. "We are happy to acknowledge the growing professionalism of Ukrainian media. It is refreshing to see that Ukrainian journalists are increasingly interested in covering serious issues, like poverty, human rights and Post-2015 Agenda. It is hard to overestimate the journalists’ role in building new Ukraine where everyone is included"- said Natalia Sitnikova, Project Manager of the UNDP project “Acceleration of the Millennium Development Progress in Ukraine”

“Our experts need to engage more actively in a dialogue with journalists. We need to close the gap between the experts who hold the information and the reporters who have the means and skills to share it widely. The research and analytical reports we produce have tremendous value not only to the peer expert community and policy makers; the information is relevant for everyone and journalists can play a very important role in translating it into language that everyone understands, thus enabling people to make informed decisions,” underlined Yevgeniy Zelenko, UNDP Ukraine Communications Officer.

“I think it is very important for journalists to write about the MDGs and the burning development issues of Ukraine. After all, we are the people who can write articles and produce news reports and radio programmes. We should lead the dialogue and shape the government’s agenda though our work,” said Oksana Mykolyuk, correspondent for the national paper “Day”.