Internews Ukraine: efficiency and new communication approaches

Throughout 2016 we were focused on innovations, building communication bridges, as well as informing, teaching, and supporting active citizens and media. Over 30 projects, more than 150 events, attended by thousands of participants from all over Ukraine: these are some of key achievements by “Internews Ukraine” in 2016.

Communication of reforms, media literacy, tackling Russian propaganda, supporting internet freedom, developing creative industry and sharing knowledge about Ukraine abroad – these are only a few key sectors in which we have been working last year. We have also helped to communicate European values and practices in Ukraine, as well as encouraged media to improve coverage of the war in Eastern Ukraine.

Both national and regional journalists had an opportunity to ask questions to the Head of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada and to Ukraine's Prime Minister, in an unprecedented conference held for the first time in Ukrainian parliament on such a big scale thanks to our support. Moreover, in 2016 “Internews Ukraine” team has organized 17 press events involving government representatives and members of parliament. 14 events took place within the framework of USAID Rada programme. On all these events journalists were absolutely free to ask questions they are interested in. In addition to press briefings, we also produced infographics and videos which helped them better understand Ukrainian public policies.

Moreover, “Internews Ukraine” has initiated discussions on vital social topics. For instance, we have launched the anti-poliomyelitis awareness-raising campaign, as well discussion on Ukrainians' access to central TV channels. The latest event was attended by datalink providers as well as representatives of Ukrainian media groups.

During the year, we have also worked on a broad communication strategy to support Ukraine's EU integration. The aim of the draft strategy is to integrate efforts of the government, media, NGOs and international donors to make EU integration reforms understandable for general public. To achieve this goal, have learned Polish experience, made a survey among journalists and interviewed communication and EU integration experts. Finally, we have developed draft Strategy for communicating European integration in Ukraine working in close partnership with the office of Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration as well as with the Government Office for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration. We also consulted EU Delegation to Ukraine and key media and non-governmental actors working in the EU integration and communication fields.

Our team has also suggested a new approach to communication of reforms. In particular, we produced short, eye-catching and understandable videos aimed not only to explain the upcoming changes but also to encourage society to assist and contribute to these changes.

“Internews Ukraine” has produced fifteen videos in 2016, mostly about reforms, energy efficiency, parliament work etc. We have also produced documentaries about volunteers and war veterans; these movies called Povernennia (Return) tell the stories of former soldiers who overcome despair and pain and managed to find themselves in peaceful life. When we first broadcasted the movie in June 2016 in “Zhovten” cinema, the hall was full of people, which encouraged us to organize additional screenings. We showed the movie during the #OutdoorCinema, our outdoor initiative. Another broadcast was held for guests of interactive exhibition dedicated to Ukraine's Defender Day, organized by the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine.

Our second film, “How the Parliament Works”, was aimed to explain the work of Ukraine's parliament to schoolchildren. It tells the story about the work of Verkhovna Rada as well as interesting facts about foreign parliaments, in an easy and funny way. Children have also contributed their ideas to this movie, which helped us make the whole production process more interactive. The first screening took place in one of Kyiv schools, and schoolchildren expressed great interest to the topic, but at the same time shared their impressions and recommendations how to improve it. These films and other videos are available on the Youtube channel.

Fake news and manipulations have become the real challenge for the journalists all over the world. “Internews Ukraine” team has suggested instruments helping to develop critical attitudes to information. In 2016 we created a website Verify.org.ua, an online service helping to check photo, video and texts. Furthermore, in November 2016 we launched an online course on internet fact checkingMore than 300 journalists and social media users have subscribed to this online course in just two months, November and December, 2016. 

Сooperation with Ukrainian media is an essential component of our activities. We have trained journalists, but also encouraged editors to look for successful stories of Ukrainian businesses in Europe, to cover interesting and useful experience of neighboring countries, as well as to strive for more comprehensive coverage of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. 157 Ukrainian media have received grants under our projects. We have also organized 13 competitions for media to publish the best articles about European integration, decentralization, health care reform and local finance management.

Moreover, in 2016 we helped journalists and NGOs to open new horizons of knowledge and skills thanks to 3 training programmes, in particular СorruptUA Investigation Lab, Grant Manager school and Parliamentary Journalist school. The trainings covered skills of unmasking corruption, fundraising and coverage of parliamentary work.

Investigative journalism also remained our priority in 2016. Throughout the year, reporters of the anti-corruption media project CorruptUA have investigated 65 cases. Two of those journalists – Taras Borosovski and Bogdan Krasovski – were awarded in nation-wide competitions of articles unmasking corruption.

We have also focused on informal networking of journalists. During media parties, our unusual approach to communication with journalists, reporters were able to learn about each other and make contacts and friendships.

Last year our work opened new horizons far beyond Ukrainian borders. Together with other countries of Eastern Partnership – Georgia, Armenia, Moldova, Belarus and Azerbaijan – we aim at developing cultural journalism and creative industries within an EU-funded initiative “Culture and Creativity”. We also contribute to studying impact of Russian propaganda on these countries. Besides, thanks to analytic group UkraineWorld, international journalist and expert community receives unbiased information about Ukraine, including Russian aggression. UkraineWorld has brought together over 100 journalists and experts from various countries and institutions. Articles and explainers in English produced within this initiative have been published by Atlantic Council, Newsweek, Hromadske International, Euromaidan Press and Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

We also aim at counteracting Russian propaganda and disinformation with other activities. In particular, almost 60 Russian journalists and activists had an opportunity to travel to Ukraine and to have open dialogue about its development, thanks to our study tours for Russian citizens.

With our help, editors of Ukrainian media were able to see the working process of European institutions and learn more about EU values and practices during the educational visits to the EU Member States. In return, European journalists visited Ukraine with our help. We have also helped to create articles for Kazakh website theopenasia.net and find experts for TV programmes about Ukraine on Armenian TV channel “A1 plus”. 

It would be impossible to achieve such results without a team of highly professional people. In 2016 the number of Internews Ukraine staff has grown by 30%.

We have published 6 books and leaflets in 2016, including handbook on the European Union for journalists (updated for EU Delegation to Ukraine), practical advice on successful communicating of reforms, brochures on tackling propaganda and a memo for the members of parliament.

It was for the eighth time when our organizational skills and high level of financial reports control were confirmed by international auditors from Deloitte company.

Moreover, our audience has grown in 2016. The number of “Internews Ukraine” followers and subscribers in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram  has increased by 30% during the year, with over 2,000 more followers on Facebook only.

We thank our donors and partners for trust and support: European Union, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), EU Delegation to Ukraine, International Renaissance Foundation, UNICEF, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Governments of Poland, Canada, Czech Republic, Embassies of Finland and Netherlands, Association of Latvian Journalists, Transitions Online, British Council, Council of Europe, and many others.

We don't stop at this and hope to surprise you next year too. We will be happy to see you at our events!

 

Also, read our full infographic: