Ukrainians Grow as Critical News Consumers
Long subject to propaganda and “fake news” from Russia, Ukrainian citizens are nevertheless becoming more aware, not less, of the motives behind the information they access at home.
More than half of Ukrainian readers and viewers are aware of “pre-paid materials” (known as jeansa) placed in media outlets, and they are getting better at recognizing those materials, according to the 2017 Media Consumption Survey. The poll revealed that out of the 55 percent of people who know jeansa exists, 63 percent say they know how to spot a “paid news” report, an increase of 16 percent from last year.
The 2017 Media Consumption Survey was conducted by InMind at the request of Internews, as part of the Ukraine Media (U-Media) Program with financial support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The survey’s main objectives were to define Ukrainians’ media habits and measure their trust in media, media literacy, and awareness of Ukraine’s reforms process. InMind representatives surveyed 4,048 people between May and June 2017.
The report includes comparisons with the past three years, but the U-Media Program has been conducting similar polls for six years. The survey results help Internews partners, mainly media NGOs and journalists, shape the future of the Ukrainian media landscape and provide Ukrainians with the best quality information they need and deserve.
The poll revealed a steady drop in the number of Ukrainians consuming Russian media (across all outlets) in Ukraine, a trend seen over the past three years. This year only 1 percent of respondents said they consume Russian media (down from 4 percent last year), meaning fewer Ukrainians than ever before are watching and reading Russia-based media across the country. However, the results also indicated that amongst that group that still consumes Russian media, their trust in it has increased.
The poll also showed a decline in the popularity and trust of both television and the internet, despite remaining the nation’s most loved media. This is true for both national and regional media.
Ukrainians are keen internet users, and 77 percent surf the web daily. The figures across the country are almost equal, with slightly lower figures (73 percent) in northern regions. Those aged 18-35 use the internet more frequently (95-98 percent). When getting news from the internet, consumers are more likely to use news aggregators like ukr.net. This has been a stable trend over the past three years.
The poll found that, in Ukraine, Facebook has seen a considerable 7 percent growth in membership over the past year alone, which might be explained by the fact that two popular Russian social media platforms — VKontakte and Odnoklassniki — were banned in Ukraine in May of this year as part of sanctions and other measures against Russia.
The overwhelming majority of respondents believe that “honesty and reliability” are the most important criteria when it comes to measuring trust in mass media.
In addition, the survey found more than 50 percent of print media readers across all regions enjoy reading regional newspapers, which they prefer to the national print media. In fact, regional newspapers also stand as the only regional channel of information that is more popular than the nationwide option.
Finally, the survey also showed a continued strong public demand for reporting on reforms, with more than 50 percent of respondents reporting that the information they receive about key reforms is “insufficient.” Overall, readers and viewers within the 46-65 age group are more likely to consider themselves to “be informed” about the reforms, unlike respondents in the 18-35 age group.
Wayne Sharpe is Internews Country Director in Ukraine. Since 1993, Internews has worked in Ukraine with journalists, public officials, civil society activists and citizens to improve the quality and impact of a vibrant, independent news media. Internews is committed to helping develop skills and leadership in Ukrainian media organizations through technical assistance backed by financial support from international donor organizations.