the participants of Donbas Media Forum in the city of Mariupol, held on June 11-12, 2016,
in response to the requirement of society reintegration as the basis of the territorial reunification of the state,
in response to special information needs of the citizens who live on territories inflicted by the conflict and other parts of Ukraine,
as a result of analyzing the present state of Ukrainian journalism and the quality of its content,
responding to problems the Ukrainian and, in particular, Eastern Ukrainian media community are facing,
address Ukrainian MM representatives, state power bodies, public organizations. International institutions, and media experts with the conclusions and recommendations which follow:
1. Combatting propaganda in Ukrainian media space
To journalists and Ukrainian MM representatives:
- avoid being engaged in propaganda or counter-propaganda. Be aware of social consequences of your actions and observe journalism standards in covering controversial issues and problems;
- gradually increase the production of quality Ukrainian information content, first of all, on TV: series, documentaries, talk shows, content for entertainment, etc.;
- ensure objective coverage of the life on frontline territories in central and local MM. Avoid (due to observing journalism standards and scrupulous selection of information sources) distortion and biased coverage of processes on the occupied territory;
- increase the amount of content directed at satisfying information needs of residents of occupied territories
- pay more attention to the consequences of the state policy of Ukraine in respect to the residents of the occupied territories who are living in close proximity to the demarcation line, consider this issue as the priority on the societal agenda. Press the power in a democratic way to satisfy information needs of the citizens of occupied territories;
- increase the amount of content in the form of journalist investigations which criticize corruption.
To the state (the Ministry of Information Policy on the Issues of Television and Radio Broadcasting, Ministry of Education):
- ensure the access to Ukrainian MM (in particular, to TV channels and printed media) for citizens of occupied territories, frontline, borderline, and remote areas;
- continue work aimed at integrating a media literacy course into school and university curricula for the learners to be able to identify propaganda and manipulation;
- eliminate pressure on MM and create conditions for MM in Eastern regions to be really independent and to become a platform for discussing local problems.
To Public Organizations and international institutions:
- continuously follow and help central and local bodies of power react to violation of human rights of Ukrainian citizens on occupied territories, in particular, in the Donbas and the Crimea. Contribute to considering the cases of repressions against Ukrainian citizens by international bodies of human rights protection;
- implement monitoring and evaluation of the state information policy in respect to the occupied territories and to inform regularly the political decision -makers about the results;
- ensure the monitoring of anti-Ukrainian propaganda in Russian and Ukrainian MM, inform power bodies and public about the results in order to stimulate public discussion of it;
- analyze and ensure feedback from citizens in respect to their information needs and their socio-psychologic state (with the help of creating new communication platforms, holding sociological surveys, focus groups, etc.), timely inform MM and state bodies about the feedback results;
- develop local public MM which are not controlled by oligarchs in the south and the east of Ukraine, in particular, in frontline areas;
- stimulate the development of civil society local infrastructure in order to spread media literacy among different categories of population. Employ the instruments of developing potential which were successfully trialled in Ukraine at the end of the 1990s-2000s in other segments of the cicil sector (networking, grants, training, institutional development) to organizations which work in the sphere of media literacy.
We express solidarity with the journalists who, despite the threat to their life and health, have preserved loyalty to their conscience, profession, and Motherland at the time of the crisis.
2. Ensuring the viability of local MM, in the Donbas, in particular
To journalists and MM representatives:
- the Forum participants arrived at the conclusion that local MM, in particular, those which are being denationalized, are to transfer from subsidies to employing market mechanisms in the work of their MM;
- the compulsory principles should be orientated to information needs of the target audience and awareness of responsibility for MM impact on society;
- raise MM commercial attractiveness, first and foremost, by distributing quality content;
- each local MM including all co-founders is to develop a strategic plan for 2-3 years: to review their business plan and MM organizational structure, and to create or widen a commercial department for, at least, one professional to be responsible for selling and distributing advertisements and newspapers. Scrupulously plan and launch business models which will increase income and optimize costs;
- develop marketing strategy corresponding to the long-term strategy of companies. Subscription plans, widening retailing, free newspaper distribution, promotion of sites and other ways of increasing the number of readers may be considered as a part of marketing strategy;
- involve experienced consultants and colleagues in solving MM organizational problems. Invest in personnel training. Professional unions of journalists may help as well as donor projects and organizations which may be of use in reforming Ukrainian MM.
To State bodies (Ministry of Information Policy, Ukrainian Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information):
- develop long-term strategy of supporting local MM which were established on the principle of evaluation of local MM and the target audience needs, including the ones on occupied territories and “the grey zone” near the frontline;
- develop instruments of state grants for local MM which will be distributed on the basis of open competition, consider the possibility of introducing taxation preferences and other mechanisms of local MM support, in particular, those which are being denationalized.
To public organizations and international institutions:
- ensure access to trainings, consultations, education programs for local MM which will be aimed at strengthening institutional potential of local MM (planning, management, personnel control, etc.) as well as perfection of journalists' skills;
- explain opportunities and instruments of grant support of local MM, in particular, in the Donbas;
- taking into account the experience and financial potential of NGOs and the development of small and medium business in Ukraine, introduce trialed models of strengthening the viability of local MM.
2. Combatting hate speech:
For journalists and MM representatives:
- support discussions among journalists on negative consequences of hate speech in the context of covering conflict-sensitive topics and continuously search for the ways of observing journalism standards in the maximum way when writing about the military conflict in the Donbas;
- with the help of public discussions and experts in conflict solving, develop the Manifest of self-regulation when covering conflict-sensitive topics which will fix the consensus of journalists' community on the inadmissibility of employing hate speech, its forms and manifestations; the Manifest is to envisage a mechanism of response and public condemnation of employing hate speech in Ukrainian MM;
- when working on the content, direct the efforts to lowering the level of conflicts and to the restoration of trust in Ukraine. Psychologists and experts in solving conflicts are to be involved in the development of the content. IDPs' success stories and direct speech of the residents of front line territories may be of use;
- reject of discriminating statements of politicians, officials, law enforcers in respect to people or groups of people connected with the military conflict (ATO militaries, IDPs, residents of frontline territories, volunteers, etc.).
To Public organizations and institutions:
- ensure continuous monitoring of information space, (national and regional TV channels and press, websites, social networks) in order to detect hate speech;
- arrange educational programmes for journalists on correct coverage of topics connected with the conflict;
- monitor state officials' statements whether they contain hate speech.
The Final Provisions were developed on the basis of recommendations, presented by 200 journalists, editors, media experts which were expressed at Donbas Media Forum (DMF) in the city of Mariupol, the Donetsk region, on June 10-11. The Final Provisions were adopted by the majority of the people present in the form of raising hands. The Provisions as a whole as well as some particular items may not coincide with the position of particular participants or the organizing committee.
DMF organizing committee