Ukrainian journalists should be professionals or patriots?

Сергей Томиленко

Odessa, November 21, 2014

Sergey Tomilenko, acting head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, said at a briefing on the situation of freedom of speech and professional difficulties in the work of journalists in connection with the war in the East.

Journalists should be professionals and patriots simultaneously. But this is now a lot of speculating. Power and the Ministry of Defense claim to be patriots and not to criticize the Army. But in the Ukrainian Union of Journalists believe that everyone should do their job. Journalists point out mistakes, but that does not mean that they are harmful. We should not copy the Russian media. We have to win true. If the channel has shown that the new military uniform melt and burn, so it is necessary to change a defective form, and not to call and demand to remain silent. Journalistic profession passed difficult tests, and they showed that among professional journalists in Ukraine are many courageous people. Recorded about 300 beatings, Vyacheslav Veremey was killed. Ukrainian journalists want to be respected as professionals, not as propagandists. They won the right on the profession by difficulttrials.

Now the company “Ukroboronprom” filed a lawsuit against the newspaper “The Mirror of the Week” to the investigation that the company was selling weapons when it is so needed in the ATO. We have filed a complaint against this company. Was created assistance center for reporters, who got into trouble. 150-200 journalists received money for the treatment and repair of damaged equipment, helping the refugee journalists. Recently passed in Slavyansk photographic equipment for a newspaper that does not betray Ukraine.

There areno illegal orders in media, but now the threat to freedom of speech and journalists’ work comes from the owners and founders of the media. Politicians should not consider the media as a means of settling accounts, and journalists should not go to such cooperation.

Total censorship as was under Yanukovich there isn’s, but now there is a crisis in the advertising market, and it is more difficult for journalists to resist the influence of media management and their owners. Economic stability has decreased and they have become more sensitive to the political subsidies.

Propaganda – it is not journalism. The state must be engaged in it. Officials and their teams must always act and interact with society. We have the same officials, but they can only blame the journalists. As an example, journalists, traveling to the ATO zone are not givne special certificates and accreditations. Because of this there are constant difficulties when passing checkpoints.

To respect the profession of journalism, it is necessary to adhere to the code of journalistic ethics. The current government is much better. Under Yanukovych just wanted to completely destroy the freedom of speech.

Odessa regional organization of the Union of Journalists is autonomous, and shows the composition of the local journalistic community. It would like more self-organization of journalists, their activity. Yet, at the same time, supports all initiatives of National Union of Journalists. Odessa organization is actively involved with veterans of profession, with students.

Union of Journalists of Ukraine – an open creative organization, there are no strict requirements for participants, there are only program requirements. And if a person is not against them, he may be a member of the union, even without working directly in the media.

But for the immediate professionals the union is now developing a national press card of journalist. It will be issued for 2 years, and only those, who are actively working, and require comprehensive assistance in obtaining information.

Key approach is to ensure the right of journalists and editors for protection, for information on their location. For example, as it was with the newspaper “Kramatorsk truth”. Security services came and took the chief editor of the publication for 5 days, not even saying who they are and where they brought the man. This is an unacceptable fact. After our declaration the journalist was released. If journalists write the truth they do not bring any harm. Forbid them to do it – a road to nowhere. It is as if a doctor-patriot will not treat a patient-separatist.

Ukrainian authorities failed to investigate and punish those responsible for the facts of beating of journalists. Explanations of Police are unacceptable. But as a public institution, we can only express an opinion on this report to the OSCE, the European Union of Journalists. The Union of Journalists is quite clear that if the organizers will be punished by beatings of journalists – is the best prevention to this having no place in the future. Captured by separatists in the East of the country in September were 8 journalists. 6 of them are free. For all cases of violence against journalists NUJU reacts by statements and information dissemination.

Sergey Tomilenko expressed sympathy to Odessa TV people, because there are a lot of TV channels. According to him, it is in trend among businessmen. If there are two or three dozen TV channels, so they have little advertising, and they are funded by grants founders. As a result, such channels are more sensitive to the owner, not the audience. Such media is a tool to achieve political and economic goals of their founders, rather than the interests of the audience.