Year Report 2019

19 stories we told to Ukraine and the world in 2019

2019 went down in history as the year when Internet media consumption in the world finally overtook TV consumption. This trend was noticeable in Ukraine as well: for the first time, online and social media in 2019 overtook TV in terms of popularity and reach. The Instagram Stories format has been all the rage: 500 million people in the world use Instagram Stories every day.

In our own stories, 2019 was also dominated by digital innovation. Big data analytics, neural networks, virtual reality – we have not only kept track of the latest technologies, but also applied them to socially important projects. Read on to see what we've done.

1. Memocracy: How Social Networks Affect Politics In Ukraine

To understand the relationship between Ukrainians' politics and their online activity on Facebook, Instagram, and VK, our analysts analysed tens of thousands posts about politicians, parties, the 2019 elections, and the work of the current Verkhovna Rada. We collected data using neural networks and artificial intelligence methods. You can find the summary of our research findings here.

We held three press conferences to present research findings over the different periods and organised a discussion with political communication experts and analysts. The project received 137 mentions in media outlets and reached 125,000 users on social media.

2. Fit Your Life in a Suitcase

You have little time to pack, just one suitcase, and a life you have to begin again from scratch. What do you take with you? Would you rather take necessities or your high school yearbook? Your son's favourite toy or his warm clothes? You don't know when you will be back, or if you'll be back at all. You wouldn't be able to take the smell of your mother's home with you or the sense of a place you belong to.

The interactive installation "Fit Your Life in A Suitcase" gave residents of Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa the opportunity to immerse themselves in the experience of more than 1.5 million IDPs from Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. We equipped two interactive rooms to implement this idea. The first one recreated the atmosphere of an ordinary Ukrainian flat.

In this flat, visitors need to find things from the list and put them in a suitcase within a short time limit. Afterwards, visitors proceed to the next room where they wore VR glasses. The 360-degree video provides a realistic representation of the typical locations that IDPs usually meet on their path. A checkpoint, a station, a social security centre, a boarding house, and finally a rented flat.

The aim of the project is to help overcome stereotypes and prejudices that exist towards IDPs, as well as to deepen mutual understanding between displaced people and residents of large unoccupied Ukrainian cities.

976 participants visited the installation in three cities. There were121 pieces published in media outlets, including 15 television features. There were110 social media mentions made with the project's hashtag #ЖиттяСпочатку (Life From The Start).

3. Propagandarium

According to a USAID-Internews survey, only 11% of Ukrainians are able to distinguish fake from reliable news. A VR-installation called "Propagandarium" was created to help boost this low rate by improving Ukrainians' media literacy skills.

In this bizarre "propaganda museum", visitors get acquainted with classic examples of manipulation. Then in the interactive "media literacy room", guests learn information hygiene skills. Immersion in the world of VR, online quizzes, assessments of "injury from propaganda" -- all these elements create a relaxed atmosphere and help to quickly impart new knowledge.

In 2019, the mobile installation visited Kramatorsk and Odesa, and was also presented at:

  • Atlas Weekend (Kyiv),
  • Donbas Media Forum (Kharkiv),
  • Identification 2.0 (Kyiv),
  • Civil Society Development Forum (Kyiv),
  • Travelling festival "From Country to Ukraine" (Vugledar, Volnovakha, Mangush).

Propagandarium–2019 in numbers

  • 3160 visitors
  • 108 materials in media outlets
  • 218 social media posts with the mentions of the project's hashtags #Пропагандаріум (Propagandarium), #НеВедуся (I don't buy into it)

4. Re-Vision of History: Russian Historical Propaganda and Ukraine

"Crimea has always been Russian," "The USSR was a powerful empire, Stalin is a hero", "All Ukrainian nationalists were fascists" – Russia mass-produces fakes about Ukrainian history and thus "justifies" its military aggression. We analyzed more than 850,000 posts on VKontakte and 16,000 posts on Facebook to understand how Russia is re-writing history.

Our study "Re-Vision of History" includes an analysis of six main narratives of Russian historical propaganda about Ukraine. The book also contains responses of Ukrainian historians to these narratives and messages, in particular an analysis provided by experts of the project LikBez: Historical Front, and a conversation with well-known Ukrainian historian and intellectual Yaroslav Hrytsak. We presented the book in Kyiv and also held an open discussion with historians and students at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

Another goal of the project was to move beyond the scientific and analylist community and reach out to the general public. To achieve this, we created an online quiz "How well do you know the history of Ukraine?" on the website of media outlet "Rubryka." Almost 100,000 website visitors took the quiz. In addition, the#HistoryReVision Facebook campaign debunking Russian myths has reached more than 50 thousand users.

The free e-book is available in English and Ukrainian.

5. Ukraine in Histories and Stories: A Book of Essays by Ukrainian Intellectuals

"One of the great failures of the literary and media classes in what was once known as the West has been the inability to find Ukrainian voices to talk about the Ukrainian experience. Thank goodness there have been a few exceptional Western academics to help out, but it's high time for the Ukrainian experience to be related by Ukrainians," – wrote the famous British publicist Peter Pomarantsev in the preface to the book "Ukraine in Histories and Stories".

What injuries keep us from letting go of our past? What hopes and desires lead us into the future? What is our collective biography? We assembled essays from Yaroslav Hrytsak, Yuri Andrukovych, Irena Karpa, Larysa Denysenko, Hanna Shelest, Volodymyr Yermolenko, Haska Shyyan, Serhii Plokhy and other Ukrainian thinkers into a a must-have collection.

To make Ukraine more understandable to foreigners, we presented the book in nine European cities. Residents of London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Strasbourg, Warsaw, Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt an der Oder, and Kyiv got the opportunity to meet the authors and get copies of the book. The #UkraineStories information campaign reached more than 120,000 Facebook and Instagram users.

The book is available in electronic format in English and Ukrainian.

6. UkraineWorld: A media outlet explaining Ukraine to the world

In 2019 the main topic of our English-language project was the presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine. Ukraine's Election 2019 LIVE page got almost 30000 readers from all over the world – it is the highest performance among all English-language media outlets in Ukraine that covered the elections.

In addition, journalists and analysts of UkraineWorld put out:

  • 93 articles,
  • 39 infographics,
  • 12 podcasts,
  • 9 explainer videos.

22 articles were published in prestigious international outlets, including Atlantic Council, Balkan Insight, Eurozine, Euractiv, NewsEasternEurope, DisInfoPortal, and UkraineVerstehen.

Moreover, leading foreign media outlets asked UkraineWolrd analysts for comments and quoted them in the articles in The New York Times, Financial Times, Euronews, Le Monde, NBC News, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, France 24, Le Temps, Al Jazeera, EL Pais and others.

7. Tomos: Cross-border monitoring of Russian propaganda

How did Russian propaganda react to the establishment of the independent Orthodox Church in Ukraine? Our analysts conducted a cross-border monitoring of Russian propaganda messages in the local media outlets of Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine on their reporting on the Tomos (the decree on autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarchate). Read our 10 key research conclusions here.

As a result of the project, 21 articles were published in the Ukrainian media outlets and 73,000 users were reached on social media. A sign of the recognition of our research was the furious reaction of pro-Russian propaganda media outlets.

8. TrollessUA

Things are not going well for Facebook trolls, because they are being hunted by an army of fearless CyberElves! To stop the spread of hate speech on Facebook, we created the TrollessUA initiative (similar to the Moldovan project Trolless). 246 volunteers "caught" more than 3,500 trolls on Ukrainian Facebook. All links to malicious FB-accounts are listed in a special database and have been transferred to Facebook with a request to delete them. Meanwhile, our Google Chrome extension warns users of the informational danger from such profiles.

9. Strategic Communications for the NGO Sector

How can we advocate for important social change? What tools can be used to draw public attention to the problems of minorities? How can a non-governmental organization be made recognizable and effective? What are the traits and skills of an ideal сommunication specialist in the NGO sector?

Under the Pact's the Enhance Non-Governmental Actors and Grassroots Engagement program (ENGAGE) we have strengthened the strategic communications of 20 NGOs in Ukraine. Among them are VoxUkraine, The Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF), Transparency International Ukraine, Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM), Centre UA, Centre of Policy and Legal Reform (CPLR), and others. Our support has made their voices more confident and helped to distribute their messages straight to the hearts and minds of their target audiences.

20 communication audits, 193 consultations and 20 sociological studies also helped these organizations update their communication strategies, increase team competencies, and develop effective information campaigns.

10. Digital Security School DSS380

In 2019, more than 3,000 new users followed the Facebook page of Digital Security School DSS380. Five Ukrainian editorial offices underwent digital security audits and strengthened their protection against cyber threats. Hundreds of journalists and activists attended trainings by our digital security experts and received answers to questions like

11. Internet Freedom Rebranding

We updated the brand identity and website – the first and only web resource in Ukraine on internet freedom. 434 articles were published on it in 2019. They were focused on such topics as digital rights, internet freedom issues, legislation in the field of online technologies and countering misinformation.

12. Videos for social change

We filmed and released 24 videos on important socio-political issues: from the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election and the powers of the president to the achievements of European integration and stories of the Kremlin's political prisoners.

13. The "Legal Relations on the Internet" Green Book

As a result of discussions between the representatives of law enforcement, civil society and IT professionals we prepared the "Legal Relations on the Internet" Green Book. Its aim is to improve the quality of the new legislative initiatives development in Ukraine on the Internet and infosphere areas. The Green Book will be useful for the law-making initiatives and legislators pursuing efforts on getting understanding of the Internet and infosphere challenges context in the light of the democratic world international practices.

The book is available in electronic format in English and Ukrainian.

14. Solutions Journalism: a new approach to covering social issues

It is not only important to ask questions, but also show successful responses to current social issues. This is what solutions journalism is all about, and we are proud to have introduced 108 journalists from all over Ukraine to this new approach. We developed and conducted 9 practical training sessions, including for the training of trainers (ToT). In addition to useful and practically applicable knowledge, participants received mentoring support and small grants from us to create their own solution-focused stories.

Particular attention was paid to Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, because examples of positive changes are extremely important for these regions. ome of the topics covered by journalists from eastern Ukraine include housing for IDPs, special transportation services for people with disabilities, inclusive schools, and job search support for ATO veterans.

15. Antibot: a training module to expose disinformation

Our experts developed an "Antibot" instructional module to combat fake news and disinformation. Fourteen experienced instructors from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Lithuania, and Ukraine trained 45 Ukrainian journalists and analysts to professionally uncover bots, fakes, and manipulation campaigns (particularly of Kremlin origin). Based on the training content, we prepared a detailed summary with useful tips and tools.

16. Media and confronting domestic violence

According to the United Nations Population Fund, 25% of Ukrainians believe that physical violence against women can be justified. How can society be convinced that violent behaviour is unacceptable? What role can the media play in this? How can violence be written about e so as not to traumatize the victims but to encourage them to seek assistance??

To help media representatives find answers to these questions, we organized workshops for them as part of the "Break the Circle of Violence" information campaign. Forty eight journalists from Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson learned to prepare professional materials on gender-based violence. As a summary of the intensive training, a handbook for journalists on reporting violence was published. Workshop participants also took part in the scholarship program and created 34 journalistic materials on this pressing social issue.

17. Multimedia materials "Ukraine +" and "Neighbors"

With this project, we aim to enhance the exchange of multimedia content between the countries of Europe and Eurasia. Twenty editorial offices and production studios in Ukraine received financial and consulting assistance to create more than 300 multimedia stories. Media partners will go outside the box of usual topics and characters, tell stories through new multimedia formats, and thereby attract new audiences to their web resources.

To improve the production of materials, we conducted two international "Storytelling Laboratories" for journalists from 9 countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Serbia, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, and Georgia). Laboratory participants learned best practices and tools for preparing exciting multimedia stories.

18. Grants for Strategic Media Development

With the financial support of Sweden and Internews, we held a grant competition which attracted 112 applicants. As a result, three selected editorial offices -- Zmist (Poltava), Tsukr (Sumy) and Rubryka (Kyiv) – received funds for the strategic development of their media websites.

Website redesign, SEO-optimization, creation of interactive special projects: all these measures helped these media outlets to improve the content and attract new audiences. "Rubryka", for example, thanks to our mentoring support found its market positioning -- the media of useful solutions. After learning from our trainers about solutions journalism, Rubryka's journalists began to apply this approach in popular website section "Unindifferent".

Among the 2018 partners, with whom we continued cooperation in 2019, it is worth noting the media outlet KURS (Ivano-Frankivsk). Thanks to the advice of our mentors, its editorial office created a sales department that attracts advertisers. This step has borne fruit -- KURS is now self-sustaining and no longer requires subsidies from the media owner.

19. Building Europe in Ukraine

For the project of the EU Delegation "Building Europe in Ukraine" we organized and conducted 150 events in all 24 regions of Ukraine. Residents of big cities and small towns learned first-hand about the EU's opportunities for Ukrainians. We were pleased to welcome 7,690 visitors to our events, including 1,333 local government officials, 887 entrepreneurs, 2,984 students and 2,486 public activists.

2019 in numbers

137 events, which were attended by 12,196 participants; 314 small grants issued for media; 106 business trips in Ukraine and 16 trips abroad; 30 projects implemented and 10 countries where our products were presented; 101,125 website visitors and 2,057 new FB-followers.

Behind each of these indicators there are titanic efforts of our team of 52 intensely dedicated professionals. And, of course, all these results would have been impossible without you – those thanks to whom and for whose sake we are keep moving forward.

In 2020, we will continue to develop our main missions – media development, strategic communications, and information security. Thank you for helping us to create the most important story of all – that of a successful Ukraine.