Annual Report 2020

Beyond Virtuality: How We Made Real Changes in 2020

Buying groceries, holding a workshop, meeting friends – we had to re-learn to do these simple things in a new way in 2020. Due to the global pandemic crisis, almost all of our daily lives migrated online, creating new challenges every day. Although our team was forced to move most of its activities into virtual reality, we did our best to bring about real changes. Read below to learn how!

Media Support during Pandemic

Our team launched the Stay in the Profession grant program for regional journalists who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis. Six job search sites (,, the LobbyX, Reworker,, supported this initiative and spread information on their resources for free. We chose 30 journalists out of almost a hundred applications to receive grants for creating materials about positive changes in their communities.

In addition, 38 journalists received mentoring support and grants to create solutions journalism materials. The pandemic crisis has made this genre even more relevant for Ukrainian media because it focuses not only on problems, but also practical ways to solve them. This is why we organized a two-day webinar, «Solution Journalism: A New Tool for COVID-19 Coverage». More than 140 media representatives applied to take part, 80 of whom participated in the special training, and 17 of whom received grants to create materials in this genre.

To help editors adapt to the new working environment, our organization developed and implemented an online course called Crisis and Editorial Work: Realizing Opportunities for Journalists. 172 media practitioners registered for six course modules, while recordings of webinars and video tutorials #CrisisAsChance garnered more than 80 000 views on Facebook and YouTube.

In addition to helping journalists get through the pandemic, we contributed to their professional development. Almost 100 journalists attended our online events: our Fundraising for the Media webinar and a discussion with high-profile media practitioners titled How to Cover the Activities of Terrorists in Media. More than 17 000 people watched the recordings on Facebook.

To promote tolerance and develop media professionals’ skills in preparing materials on national, religious and sexual minorities, we organized an online programme called Tolerance – A Path to Peace or a Bone Of Contention? The programme’s thirty most active participants took part in a Tolerance Camp.

Another online programme, How to Break the Wall of Occupation and Restore Historical Justice, conducted by our experts and German colleagues, focused on finding the role of Ukrainian journalists in the reintegration of Ukraine’s temporarily occupied territories and the consolidation of our society after the war. An article about Donbas and hate speech written by one of our grant recipients, Daria Kurenna, became one of the most popular materials on the Radio Svoboda website in the first days after its publication – it was read almost 18 000 times within three days.

Our two-day webinar on mobile journalism #StoriesFromUkraine became quite popular: 120 reporters applied, 56 were trained, and another ten received grants to create their own mobile stories.

Our summer online school Media Rise hit records: we received 357 applications from beginner journalists seeking to take on the modern challenges of the profession. Seventy selected participants studied theory and practice with 29 experienced instructors and media experts for three months. In total, we conducted 29 webinars with a total duration of 65 hours. One of the most popular workshops led by Roman Vintoniv (Michael Shchur) reached more than 75 000 Facebook users.

Countering Disinformation

In past years, but especially after the 2019 elections in Ukraine, anti-Western and anti-democratic messages have become more widespread in the Ukrainian information space. Our analysts launched a regular monitoring and digest of these anti-Western messages (in Ukrainian and English). The issues of the digest received more than 25 000 views on the pages of, Radio Liberty, and UkraineWorld and reached 125 000 users on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, we regularly sent each edition of the digest to our international partners.

Together with the Academy of the Ukrainian Press, we prepared and published a teacher's guide called Educational Practices to Prevent an Infodemic, Or How Not to Isolate Yourself from the Truth' Developed in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science, the manual aims to build critical thinking and media literacy skills in schoolchildren.

Conspiracy theories began to gain even more popularity during the pandemic. The community of volunteer «cyber elves» called TrollessUA, has a database which already includes almost 4 500 malicious accounts on Ukrainian Facebook, and it continues to hunt trolls and conduct educational work. TrollessUA launched a chatbot for more convenient and faster reporting of trolls on Facebook.

As a part of our Antibot: How to Resist Information Manipulation workshop, eight coaches from the Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Ukraine shared their experience exposing fakes with Ukrainian journalists and analysts. The event gathered 79 participants on Zoom, and another 15 000 users watched the training videos online.

Our analysts conducted research that exposed the networks of fake subscribers used by pro-Russian and anti-Western players in their information war against Europe, the United States, Ukraine’s European integration, and its independence from Russia. We found that more than 300 000 probable trolls promoted Viktor Medvedchuk’s ideas on Twitter, and ~ 80% of Anatoliy Shariy’s and Oleksandr Dubinskiy’s followers on Twitter (from a sample of the study) showed signs of being trolls. 13 000 people viewed the Ukrainian-language presentation of our research and 8 500 viewed our English-language one.

Review of Regional Media of Ukraine

Twenty-four years of analytical expertise and cooperation with regional journalists helped us prepare our comprehensive «Ukrainian Regional Media Guide 2020». It is the first English-language report of this kind on Ukrainian regional media for 2020. The review contains information on 400 outlets in all 24 regions of Ukraine, including the temporarily occupied territories.

The Ukrainian media landscape is dynamic, so have continued publishing thematic reviews regularly. In the first one, our analysts discuss the challenges which the coronavirus crisis has posed and how the media responded to them. Read the analytical review «How Ukrainian Regional Media Live During Quarantine» by the link. We devoted the second analytical review to how the 2020 local elections were reflected on the most popular social network in Ukraine, Facebook. You can learn more about it in our article, Local Elections 2020 and Social Media: Detecting Biased News and Unmarked Political Advertisements.

Communications Support for Reforms and Organizations

We worked on an EU-UNDP parliamentary reform project strengthening the communication capacity of Verkhovna Rada committees. For six months, our experts trained the staff of committee secretariats in modern communication technologies. As a result, the indicators of the committees’ Facebook pages significantly improved. Thanks to our modern interactive formats, the outreach of some pages grew twentyfold!

We worked on communication for the New Ukrainian School (NUS) reform. In particular, our team prepared 139 short and 16 long materials with 200 graphic elements on crucial reform components. They were published by national online media (Ukrainska Pravda,, Dzerkalo Tyzhnya) and specialized outlets for parents (,,, and were read by. 433 000 people. The communication campaign on Facebook reached an additional 1.7 million-plus users. More than 15 influencers joined the #хочудоНУШ hashtag campaign, including educational ombudsman Serhiy Horbachov, founder of the EdEra platform Oleksandr Yolkin, founder of SOS Parents Olena Parfionova, parenting bloggers Olena Hordiychuk, Kateryna Mishchenko, Hanna Lisovska and many others.

Under the EU project PravoJustice, we prepared a communication strategy for the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. The Ministry of Justice has already started implementing the strategy in its activities. The two videos created within the project received more than 150 000 views on Facebook. We have also developed the communication and visual identity strategy for the Facebook page of the Department for the Execution of Criminal Punishments.

In 2020, we began providing communication support for the European Investment Bank’s representation in Ukraine. Their office now has reliable backing and a consultant who communicates the most important messages of the EU’s state financial and credit institution in Ukraine.

The National Bank of Ukraine also engaged our experts for communication support regarding reforms to the non-banking financial sector. Based on the results of a social survey, our organization developed an information campaign to explain the essence of the reform and increase Ukrainians’ financial literacy. Our materials were posted on the page Financial Literacy Ukraine and will soon appear on their own site.

In cooperation with the Council of Europe, we implemented a nationwide information campaign on the impact of decentralization reform on national minorities in Ukraine, called Different Roots – Common Opportunities. To promote a positive perception of the reform, we prepared a series of posts for social networks, five articles for national media, and six videos. More than 14 000 people read the articles on the sites NV,, and Ukrainska Pravda. We broadcasted 30-second animated videos on Starlight Media Group channels (ICTV, STB, and Novyi Channel) that reached more than 160 000 people in total. We translated and subtitled all of the campaign’s videos into the 14 languages of Ukraine’s national minorities.

2020 reminded us of the importance of our health. The information campaign #2022WithoutTobacco, which we developed for the Life Center for Civic Representation, became even more relevant. To persuade MPs to adopt the anti-tobacco bill №4358 and save the lives and health of Ukrainians for many years to come, we conducted focus group tests for the campaign’s brand identity and messages. Based on the results, we prepared a series of products: video for TV and social networks, a website, posters, animated banners and infographics.

UkraineWorld: About Ukraine – For the World

Our English-language publication, UkraineWorld, continued sharing Ukraine’s story with the world. More than 42 500 readers followed the situation with COVID-19 in Ukraine on a dedicated page.

In 2020, our team launched two major video projects. Together with the Ukrainian Institute, we implemented the project Ukraine in 2 Minutes and presented ten animated explainers in English. The videos refute common stereotypes about Ukraine and explain the peculiarities of its history and culture. They have been viewed more than 300 000 times.

In September, we also launched a mobile storytelling project, Stories from Ukraine, to break negative associations about Ukraine with the help of video stories about people and initiatives that are transforming the country. In 2020, we presented nine reportage videos that were watched more than 91 000 times and held a webinar on mobile journalism, the participants of which received grants to create video stories.

In general, in 2020 our team prepared:

  • 71 articles,
  • 37 videos,
  • 20 podcast episodes.

Articles and comments by UkraineWorld journalists were published in foreign outlets, including The New York Times, Atlantic Council, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, New Eastern Europe, Kyiv Post,,, and Ukraine Verstehen.

UkraineWorld experts co-organized and participated in the Kyiv Security Forum discussion panel, Who Is Fighting Against World Democracy. The event was watched by 23 000 spectators online. A recording of another discussion, Ukraine In 2020: Main Events and Trends, which our team organized independently, was viewed more than 12 000 times.

Digital Security and Internet Freedom

DSS380 experts have confirmed their status as digital security professionals: the 14 columns authored by their experts for and have garnered 77 000 views. In addition, dozens of national and regional media outlets appealed to DSS380 for expert comments.

Three local outlets – «Tribun»; (Rubizhne), «Vezha»; (Vinnitsa), «Zmist»; (Poltava) improved their cybersecurity thanks to 14 consultations from DSS380 specialists. DSS380 experts started working with four more local outlets – «Pershyy Kryvorizkyy»; (Kryvyi Rih), «Grechka»; (Kirovograd), «Inform.ZP.UA» (Zaporizhzhia), «Vostochny variant»; (Luhansk and Donetsk regions) at the end of the year.

Our team has launched a series of regular Friday Security Night events where participants can improve their knowledge of security in the digital world. Our online event 7 Tips On How to Save Your Data and Money Online attracted 1500 viewers. Our discussion How Is Technology Changing the World and Will There Be Freedom In 2030? was viewed more than 3 800 times, and 7 300 people joined our event, Is Ukraine Ready To Implement Elections Online?

DSS380 experts also prepared ten short videos on basic digital security rules: more than 30 000 Facebook users have already viewed them.

The only resource in Ukraine about Internet freedom published 546 thematic materials that were watched 71 000 times. The Facebook page Internet Freedom Ukraine began sharing successful videos -- 5 videos got more than 164 000 views in total. Our project experts also debuted a monitoring tool — the Online Space Regulation Index, which can assess the impact of proposed or approved bills that affect the development of the internet.

Educational Activities That Migrated Online

Our installation Put Your Life in a Suitcase on the experience of IDPs was opened in Zaporizhzhia, but was unfortunately canceled due to quarantine. The problems of IDPs have not gone away, however, so we continued to talk about them on our online platforms. There were thirty-seven articles in national and regional media about the stories of IDPs, and our informational Facebook campaign under the hashtag #LifeFromTheBeginning covered more than 440 000 users.

We also adapted the exhibition into a 360° video so that everyone could feel the installation’s atmosphere through their laptop or phone.

Our interactive VR exhibition «Propagandarium» was supposed to start at the end of March in Zaporizhzhia. However, due to the pandemic, it was forced to say #IStayHome and transformed into Facebook events. Nine thousand users received informational vaccination from fakes and increased immunity to manipulation.

In October, as part of a global campaign, we presented the mobile augmented reality application #PrisonersVoice, which draws the international community's attention to Ukrainian prisoners of the Kremlin and the systematic violation of human rights by the Russian Federation. The augmented reality allows users to listen to the stories of released prisoners of the Kremlin – Oleksandr Kolchenko, Oleh Sentsov, and Volodymyr Balukh – from their arrests and long days in prison camps to their ultimate return to Ukraine. In less than a month, the application was downloaded almost 800 times from Google Play and 1500 times from the Apple Store. As part of the promo campaign, European media published 80 materials about the project, with coverage on social networks extending to over 2.6 million users. The #PrisonersVoice project was named one of the 15 best cultural projects of 2020 in Ukraine.

Our team launched a YouTube channel for the Building Europe in Ukraine project by the EU Delegation in Ukraine. Everyone interested in EU opportunities was previously able to in our events throughout Ukraine, but now we are pleased to offer an online library of valuable webinars. Entrepreneurs, community activists, government officials and students can be inspired by success stories and receive up-to-date information on EU programs in Ukraine.

Strategic Development of Media

Four Ukrainian editorial offices improved their content THROUGHour AUDS project (Audience Understanding and Digital Support). The Ukrainians launched two mailings: The Story – with the best texts of top world media, and Healthy Person News – with daily news about Ukraine and the world. Volyn Online prepared a series called #BusinesStrong about successful women entrepreneurs and launched a paywall for the content on the site. This is one of the first regional outlets in Ukraine to make paid content for readers. Promum released a series on peaceful divorce and became a platform for discussing this topic in society. The online outlet Come Back Alive launched a series of podcasts about military rehabilitation and stories about the heroic deeds of soldiers. Due to the coronavirus crisis, these outlets also received additional support which allowed them not to lose their positions in the media market and to implement their project plans.

199 multimedia materials on topical socio-political issues were produced under the the Ukraine + project and its Neighborhood subcomponent. The project aimed to strengthen the exchange of multimedia content between Ukrainian media and between European and Eurasian countries. Six Ukrainian newsrooms received additional grants to deal with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds were used to prepare 16 stories about the impact of the coronavirus crisis on Ukrainians’ lives. Outlets from all 12 countries participating in the project prepared similar materials to reflect a holistic picture of the new post-pandemic world – in human faces, experiences, and stories. The multimedia materials of the project also replenished the content stocks, from which the Ukrainian media could take materials for free and fill the grid at a time when shooting or producing their materials was difficult due to quarantine.

Five newsrooms from the south and east of Ukraine optimized their content strategy and, as a result, increased their media audience. Kramatorsk Post's audience increased by 23%, Kavun CITY by 25%, and Slobidskyy Kray by 70%. The traffic of the Mariupol TV channel site TV-7 began to grow rapidly and reached a stable mark of more than 300 000 viewers per day, and the news site improved their video views significantly. This all happened thanks to mentoring support under the Media Program in Ukraine.

2020 in Numbers

In 2020, our team worked on the implementation of 40 projects. We organized and conducted 125 events, 109 of which took place online. These events attracted 9034 participants and almost 150 000 online views. During this period, 121 809 users visited our site, and 2,026 new subscribers began to follow our pages on Facebook and Instagram.

In 2021, we are being united not only by virtual networks, but also by the desire to bring real changes in Ukrainian media development, strategic communications, and information security. Thank you for motivating us to reach new milestones on the way to building a prosperous Ukraine!