Ukrainian and Russian journalists come together in Kiev to discuss professional and ethical standards of journalism

Despite the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine and the past months of tension between Russia and Ukraine, 15 Russian journalists and media law NGO workers came to Kiev to work with 15 Ukrainian colleagues and to confront the role the media has played on both sides over the past few months.

IREX Europe and its local partners in Ukraine (the Media Law Institute - MLI) and Russia put together a three-day programme focusing on media legislation in each country, with the final day bringing the two groups together for discussion and debate on journalism ethics and media responsibility in the conflict, and also going forward now in Ukraine and in Russia.

Day one started out with beneficiaries discussing what their expectations are, what they would like to benefit from during the training. Journalists from Russia expressed the need for increased knowledge on very practical issues such as the potential responsibility that may be held against them in case of dissemination of information on victims (which is considered a state secret in Russia), on distribution of material considered as ‘extremist material’ and on methods for effective fact-checking.

For beneficiaries from Ukraine, the most urgent issues were the legal aspects of photography and video use in courts, the issue of accreditation of media workers and of obstruction of journalists’ activities in the Donbass and Crimea. Both groups expressed their hope to share their experiences with each other, particularly with regards to ethical and professional standards, how to cover current events while avoiding self-censorship. Separated into their respective language groups, beneficiaries then deepened their knowledge on the topics expressed, through case studies and group discussions with the help of MLI lawyers and Russian partner expert lawyers.

Day two was dedicated to discussions related to journalism ethics and self-regulation with presentations by Leonid Nikitinski on the latest examples and best practices of self-regulation, taking examples from the UK and elsewhere. During the discussion, participants talked with Leonid Nikitinskym, secretary of the Union of Journalists of Russia and Sergey Tomilenko, head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.

Day three saw the Russians and the Ukrainians come together for moderated discussions on Professional Journalist Standards in Times of Crisis and Conflict Reporting and Professional Ethics in Journalism: Case Study of Media Coverage and Violations of Professional Ethics and Standards. The discussions were moderated by Diana Dutsyk from Telekritika (Ukraine) and Margo Gontar and Alina Sugoniako, StopFake co-initiator and editor (Ukraine). Participants were then polled on the challenges they face with regards to the subjects discussed. The results of the poll were then discussed jointly and common solutions explored.

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The workshop was organised in the context of the EU supported Media Freedom Support Project, led by IREX Europe in partnership with local partners in the Eurasian region, notably the Media Law Institute in Kiev.

IREX Europe - 11 Rue Aimé Collomb - Lyon, France, 69003 - Tel: 33 (0) 980 527 829 - Fax: 33 (0) 985 527 829
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