I want to introduce you to a dynamic group of Ukrainian journalists. These (mostly very young) men and women work at Hromadske TV, and are taking on the crowded media landscape in Ukraine, to offer people who no longer trust their media organisations, something new.

Hromadske is a small, independent news operation based in Kyiv.  It was launched during the EuroMaidan protests in 2014 by a small group of journalists. Since then it has established itself and won funding from a variety of sources. This already makes it unusual. In Ukraine, although people can choose from dozens of news organisations, generally they are all are either linked to the government or funded by oligarchs. UA:PBC is the former state broadcaster, and is now working to transform to a public service broadcaster. But as with all large organisations, change takes time.

In contrast, Hromadske is small and lean, and officially a non-governmental organisation (NGO). Its slogan is “What’s really happening” and it has won awards for its investigations and reporting, often in very difficult circumstances. And there is no doubt that Ukraine is currently a challenging news patch. The conflict with Russia over Crimea, the recent imposition of martial law in some areas of the country, and the influx of thousands of internal refugees from Crimea to Kyiv, means impartiality is problematic. Meanwhile, the horrific acid attack killing of prominent activist Kateryna Gandzyuk in the southern city of Kherson, demonstrates how high the stakes are for those trying to challenge corruption.

There are around 150 staff at Hromadkse, but what this organisation is trying to achieve with those relatively few people is ambitious. There is a website https://hromadske.ua/ but also a 24/7 TV stream which is broadcast online (on the .ua website and on YouTube) and which last year acquired a place on cable and satellite.  You can watch this here https://hromadske.ua/stream .

In addition, there is an English language service https://en.hromadske.ua/

Most of the TV stream is pre-recorded and broadcasts generally in Ukrainian.  However, the station goes live for breaking news, when it also streams live on YouTube and Facebook, as well on its cable and satellite stream.   And now Hromadske has launched a live nightly news programme at 8pm called нині вже (‘Now and Here’). This programme also has an ambitious remit – to look at the big stories of the day and examine and analyse them.

It’s very hard for those of us who have grown up with the media landscape of the UK to understand the need for news organisations that can be trusted. While our newspapers are partisan, and the many people might not agree with our broadcasters, they are regulated. And then there’s the BBC, unique in its ability to offer something for everyone. In many countries, Ukraine included, not only is it hard to find unbiased news, but a conventional style of programming is the norm. This means there can be little to choose between channels, other than who they are supporting.

Thanks to excellent audience research carried out by Akas http://www.akas.london/ we know that 95 per cent of people in Ukraine say they follow some news. But for the last three years, the audience trust in news media has dramatically declined. This means Ukrainians trust the church, volunteers and the armed forces above the media. And when it comes to receiving news, well over half of people always prefer world of mouth to any other way of getting news.

However, the research has also shown that 37 per cent of Ukrainians do trust NGOs. And when those who do consume news were asked what was most important to them in their news provider, 76 per cent of them said authenticity, truthfulness, and honesty – principles that chime with Hromadske. The big challenge now though, is for Hromdske to grow its audience.  In a country of around 45 million people, it’s reaching about 7m households and has 334,000 subscribers on YouTube.

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