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Effectiveness of investigative journalism reports in Ukraine

Analytic Report Prepared by NGO ‘Youth Democratic Initiatives’ in cooperation with NGO “ERA – European Research Association’ KY IV-2010


CONTENTS  Survey M ethodology  Frequency and subjects of investigative journalism

reports  I nvestigative journalism report with the biggest impact  Reaction of authorities  Access to information  Respondents database and geography of the survey  Conclusions


Survey Methodology


Survey Goal ď‚—To study the state of investigative journalism in

Ukraine and assess effectiveness of the investigative reports that were conducted between October 2009 and October 2010.


Survey Objectives 1. To study intensity and efficiency of investigative journalism reports 2. To obtain journalists’ opinion on the quantity and quality of investigative 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

journalism reports released in the country’ s media space Identify how the impact of publications is monitored and how active investigators are in following their stories up. Identify the types of impact (reactions of authorities) and their consequences Assess the level of access to information and interaction between journalists and authorities Assess the quality of information received by investigators upon their official inquiries. Describe the dynamics and development trends of investigative journalism


Project Passport  M ethod: half-structured telephone interview  Target audience: professional journalists (321 respondents), journalists from different media that

were segmented into three groups.  Quotas for segmentation of the respondents: 1. RPDI training participants; 2. investigators, among them winners and nominees of ACTION-MSI Investigative Journalism Contests of 2007 – 2009; journalists who received grants to conduct investigative journalists reports. 3. experienced and renowned investigators including journalists who received grants from ACTION-MSI and SCOOP.

Representatives of different media.  Project Geography: Ukraine  Project Duration: Nov 12 till Dec 5.  Questionnaire: contains 20 questions.


Frequency and Subjects of Investigative Journalism Reports


IN YOUR OPINION, HAS THE NUMBER OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM REPORTS CHANGED WITHIN THE 12 MONTHS?

N=321

 Slightly more than a quarter of respondents (34%) believe that number of reports increased. Almost equal number

of respondents share the two following opinions: “ investigative journalism reports decreased (27.4%)” and “ the numbers haven’ t changed” (28.3%).  10.3% of the respondents could not give a definite answer. Taking into consideration the breakdown of responses

(very little discrepancy %), it is obvious that the respondents do not have common opinion on the matter. A number of respondents who could not give the answer as well as the respondents who gave their answers referred to the following: ‘ one has to have special research conducted, and they themselves didn’ t monitor this subject and didn’ t follow up this situation themselves.’


2.IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT NUMBER OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM REPORTS PUBLISHED OR BROADCAST WITHIN THE LAST YEAR MEET THE STANDARDS OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM AND CAN BE CONSIDERED OF HIGH QUALITY?

N=321

 Overwhelming majority (74.4%) of respondents believe that high quality reports constitute less than a half of all the reports.  More than a quarter of respondents 28% feel that less than 20% of the published reports meet the standards of investigative

journalism;  A quarter of respondents (25.3%) consider that more than 50% of the published investigative journalism reports meet the

standards and are of high quality.


2. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT NUMBER OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM REPORTS PUBLISHED OR BROADCAST WITHIN THE LAST YEAR MEET THE STANDARDS OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM AND CAN BE CONSIDERED OF HIGH QUALITY?

Comment ď‚— When assessing the quality of the investigative journalism reports, a number of respondents suggested

that high quality reports are very few, because investigative reports are massively commissioned, and such reports have nothing to do with true investigative journalism.


3. HAVE YOU CONDUCTED INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM REPORT WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS?

N=321

ď‚— More than half of all the respondents (58.9%) have conducted investigative journalism reports within

the last 12 months.


4. PLEASE RECALL THE NUMBER OF INVESTIGATIONS YOU HAVE CONDUCTED WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS ( 190 respondents gave their answers)

 More than half of all the respondents conducted on average not more than three investigations within

the last 12 months.  Almost a quarter of the respondents – not more than 5,3% conducted from 11 to 20 investigations. Only 10.5 % of all the respondents conducted more than 21 investigations.


5. PLEASE RECALL THE NUMBER OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM REPORTS YOU HAVE HAD PUBLISHED OR AIRED WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS ?

N =190

 Only 0.5% of those who conducted investigations haven’ t had their reports published or aired. Therefore,

99.5% of the reports were released.  A slightly bigger number of published and aired reports (45.8%) compared to the conducted investigations (options 1-3) can be explained by the fact that some respondents counted several articles that were based on one investigation.


6. DO YOU FOLLOW THE STORY ONCE IT HAS BEEN PUBLISHED OR AIRED?

N =189

 Overwhelming majority of 87.3% state that follow the story once the reports have been published or

aired. It should be noted – and it was mentioned as a commentary during the interviews with both young and experienced journalists - that ‘ they can do this within the limits of the possible; in most cases exclusively on the request of the aggrieved party’ . In general, ‘ all the necessary information on the case becomes available and public all by itself’ and does not require any follow-up activity on behalf of the journalist.


7. IN WHAT WAY YOU MONITOR WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOUR MATERIALS HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED (AIRED)?

N =189

 Monitoring of publications in press and direct contact with the main characters of their report are the

most popular tools to follow up the reactions on the report. However, it should be noted that both tools often do not require any activity on behalf of the journalist. Often the respondents who chose these options also mentioned that ‘ sufferers call them themselves, come for a visit, etc.’


7. IN WHAT WAY YOU MONITOR WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOUR MATERIALS HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED (AIRED)? Comment  Journalist’ s personal actions on following the story after its publication is connected in most cases with sending out official information

inquiries, following the story with other material, further investigations and actions of protest, etc. On average such activities constitute about 20% and together less than half of all the responses (44%).  The responses in the group ‘ Other’ (6%) contain in most cases such answers: ‘ despite the fact that they follow the story up, it does not

require any effort on their behalf’ . Such answer was also given in cases when respondents emphasized that they personally put no effort into following the story, never contacted the sufferers, neither addressed authorities and bodies in charge of the situation.  Therefore, the real situation with following the stories and the consequences of their publications is slightly different from the stated (let

us remind that the majority (87%) of respondents confirm that they do follow-ups. It can be concluded that only about one half of all respondents that claim their follow-up activities, in fact conduct such activities and put their personal effort into this and make certain result-oriented steps (official inquiries, follow-up materials, actions of protect, etc.)


Most impactful investigative journalism report


8. LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR MOST SUCCESSFUL (IMPACTFUL) INVESTIGATION JOURNALISM REPORT WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS. WHAT WAS ITS TOPIC?

N =189

The leaders out of the announced topics were:  option “Other” (23.2%) that was mostly filled with the topic “corruption and high-handedness of the authorities”,  as well as “land property issues” and “activities of law-enforcement authorities” (16.4% and 14.3% respectively). The topic

of land property was most often mentioned in connection with the subject of illegal privatization of enterprises, and “activities of law-enforcement authorities” was connected to the issues of human rights.


8. LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR MOST SUCCESSFUL (IMPACTFUL) INVESTIGATION JOURNALISM REPORT WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS. WHAT WAS ITS TOPIC?

Comments  Option “ Other” except the prevailing issue of “ corruption and activities of law-

enforcement authorities” also includes such issues as “ problems of housing and communal services” , “ Euro 2012” , “ social problems: benefits, adoption issues” , “ cultural issues and preservation of national relics (hardships of museums), etc. Most of these topics are solitary cases.  The respondents often mentioned that there was more than one successful

investigative journalism report and they had difficulties in choosing just one. The report they chose to answer this question was in most cases successful in terms of its further consequences: reaction on the publication from wide public or official bodies, or the number of other articles that followed this investigation.


Reaction of Authorities


9. WHAT WAS THE REACTION OF THE AUTHORITIES INVOLVED IN THE ISSUE ON THE INVESTIGATION?

N =189

 99.5% of the respondents are aware of the authorities’ reaction upon their report. 0.5% of the respondents that

have no information on this matter explain this by recent releases of their investigations.  Every fifth investigative journalism report went unnoticed by the authorities. In more than one third of the cases

(37.3%) the reaction of the authorities was positive. Yet in another third of the cases this response was negative (34.3%) (including formal responses which is a tool to break away from the issue).


9. WHAT WAS THE REACTION OF THE AUTHORITIES INVOLVED IN THE ISSUE ON THE INVESTIGATION?

Comments  Into the category “ Other” , we included in most cases such responses as ‘ the

authorities pretended they were taking some actions but in reality did nothing’ , ‘ the reaction of the authorities was negative but it wasn’ t made public’ , ‘ the authorities did react, however, on a matter different from the topic of the investigation’ , etc. The main point of these responses (except ‘ the reaction of the authorities was negative but it wasn’ t made public’ ) is similar, and makes it possible to unite them in a separate nomination that can not be united with any other of the existing nominations.  It is interesting that according to journalists such authorities whose representatives

were directly involved in the matter most often reacted negatively (both in public and secretly, including the pressure on the journalist), and the higher authority in charge of this issue would react differently (often positively) and tried to make it up, find a solution or at least promised to do so. Sometimes their actions were really active, this however did not always bring the results (this was rather made for effect).


9. Comparative analysis of the responses WHAT WAS THE REACTION OF THE AUTHORITIES INVOLVED IN THE ISSUE ON THE INVESTIGATION?

  In Septembers of 2008 and 2009 the options suggested to the respondents were somewhat different therefore

we can compare the responses only by generalizing these options. Most often a positive reaction from the authorities (might not always be a constructive reaction) occurred in 2008, while in 2009 the authorities in more than half of the cases demonstrated total indifference.  In 2010 we should note close percentages of positive feedback from the authorities as well as no feedback on

investigative journalism reports.


10. HAS YOUR STORY BECOME A GROUND FOR INVESTIGATION BY LAW-ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES?

N =189

 In almost 61% of the cases publication or broadcasting of the report did not become a ground for

opening a case. In slightly more than a quarter of all cases (28%) the materials of journalists’ investigations were of interest to law-enforcement bodies.  A certain percentage (8.5%) of investigations was held in cooperation with law-enforcement bodies. Around 3% of journalists are uninformed.


WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME OF THE INVESTIGATION HELD BY LAW-ENFORCEMENT BODIES?

N=69

ď‚— Every fifth case opened on the ground of the investigative journalism report is now in the court. A

constructive settlement (a positive resolution) was granted less than a half of all the cases (44.7%)


11. WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME OF THE INVESTIGATION HELD BY LAW-ENFORCEMENT BODIES?

COM M ENTS  18.5% of the cases were not resolved, because they were either suspended or

closed.  13.1% of the cases fell into ‘ Other’ nomination where it was often mentioned that

the law-enforcement bodies were still holding their investigations, ‘ the case was often returned on a revision, new cases were opened, new committees and investigating groups were created’ , etc.  It should be noted that a certain number of investigative journalism reports were

published quite recently, therefore the cases opened on their ground are new.


12. HAS THERE BEEN PRESSURE PUT ON YOU/ CHARACTERS OF YOUR INVESTIGATION, HAVE YOU OR THE PEOPLE INVOLVED WERE PERSECUTED BY THE AUTHORITIES AFTER YOUR REPORTS HAS BEING PUBLISHED (AIRED)?

N =189

 Almost half of the respondents did not feel any pressure (48.2%). A quarter of the

respondents testify that they felt pressure in an open form (26.2%), yet another quarter mention a concealed form of pressure.  A certain number of respondents note in their comments that this is ‘ a normal way of things, it is also another way to see that their work gave results’ .


12. Comparative analysis of the responses HAS THERE BEEN PRESSURE PUT ON YOU/ CHARACTERS OF YOUR INVESTIGATION, HAVE YOU OR THE PEOPLE INVOLVED WERE PERSECUTED BY THE AUTHORITIES AFTER YOUR REPORTS HAS BEING PUBLISHED (AIRED)?

 As one can see from the dynamics, the outburst of the concealed pressure was in October 2009, right during the

election campaign. Until now although this pressure hasn’ t disappeared or decreased, it has become open much more often. This segmentation means that new authorities do not hurry to change the format of their interactions with journalists, and as before they use all possible ways of pressure.


13. IF EDITORIAL STAFF WAS TAKEN TO COURT AFTER THE PUBLICATION OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM REPORT, WHO WON THE CASE?

N =189

 In most cases nobody was sued. Only less than a quarter of all the cases were taken to court.

The overwhelming majority of most court cases were in favor of the editorial staff, less than a quarter of the cases – in favor of the authorities.


Information inquiries


14. HAVE YOU MADE OFFICIAL INQUIRIES TO AUTHORITIES WITHIN THE LAST 12?

N=321

Most of the respondents made official information inquiries to the authorities during this period (74.5%).

 It’ s interesting that out of those who didn’ t make any inquiries a substantial number is constituted by experienced

journalists – experts in their fields. In their opinion ‘ it is often a stupid waste of time’ and they obtain all the necessary information ‘ via personal contacts with informers, sufferers, in private conversations with the circles close to authorities’ .  A certain number of those who didn’ t make any inquiries are journalists who have recently changed their field and

have not been involved in investigative journalism during the last year (work as editors, in the news, etc.)


15. WHAT KIND OF RESPONSES YOU RECEIVED UPON YOUR OFFICIAL INFORMATION INQUIRIES TO THE AUTHORITIES WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS?

N=239

 The overwhelming majority received responses upon their inquiries (93.8%). Almost half of them

did not receive responses in full. And one third did not receive the information they were inquiring. Respondents who are satisfied with the responses are very few – 14.8%.


15. Comparative analysis: WHAT KIND OF

RESPONSES YOU RECEIVED UPON YOUR OFFICIAL INFORMATION INQUIRIES TO THE AUTHORITIES WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS? ?

 When comparing results with the surveys of 2008 and 2009 we should note a positive trend: during the last year a

number of journalists who did not receive responses upon their inquiries decreased in two times (6.2% vs. 16.7% in 2009). The number of those who received full responses decreased by 2% compared with the previous year.  The number of those who received incomplete responses increased from 48.1% vs. 38.9% which is statistically

significant. Almost stable is the ratio of those who received responses not to the point (27.9% vs. 27.8% in 2009).  Therefore we can conclude that although authorities started responding more often they haven’ t taught themselves to do

it with high quality.


16. PLEASE RATE ACCORDING TO 5-POINT SCALE APPREHENSIBILITY AND QUALITY OF WRITTEN INFORMATION THAT WAS PROVIDED TO YOU AS A JOURNALIST BY THE AUTHORITIES (1 – LOWEST GRADE, 5- HIGHEST GRADE)

N=229

In general respondents rate apprehensibility and quality of information according to the above mentioned criteria as average and give grades from 3 to 1. Most positive graded are awarded to such criteria as trustworthiness, however it should be noted that almost all the respondents mention that the information provided although is trustworthy yet often is incomplete, or not to the point, and therefore of little use.

 Yet the worst rated by the respondents is timeliness of the information provided. During the time (up to 30 days)

when journalist is awaiting for the response, the issue in question often loses its edge.


16. Comparative analysis: PLEASE RATE ACCORDING TO 5-POINT SCALE APPREHENSIBILITY AND QUALITY OF WRITTEN INFORMATION THAT WAS PROVIDED TO YOU AS A JOURNALIST BY THE AUTHORITIES (1 – LOWEST GRADE, 5- HIGHEST GRADE)

 The following distribution indicates rather a negative dynamics, for the percentage of positively rated responses

decreased significantly (a number of respondents who rated apprehensibility of information with 4 grades decreased by 12% compared with 2009). Percentage of average grades increased, and slightly increased in number the most negative grade.


16. Comparative analysis: PLEASE RATE ACCORDING TO 5-POINT SCALE APPREHENSIBILITY AND QUALITY OF WRITTEN INFORMATION THAT WAS PROVIDED TO YOU AS A JOURNALIST BY THE AUTHORITIES (1 – LOWEST GRADE, 5- HIGHEST GRADE)

TIMELINESS

 The dynamics in the category ‘ timeliness of information’ somewhat shifted. It is still rated as average

or worse, yet insignificant changes are present. In particular, the number of those who rated timeliness of information with grade 3 increased.


16. Comparative analysis: PLEASE RATE ACCORDING TO 5-POINT SCALE APPREHENSIBILITY AND QUALITY OF WRITTEN INFORMATION THAT WAS PROVIDED TO YOU AS A JOURNALIST BY THE AUTHORITIES (1 – LOWEST GRADE, 5- HIGHEST GRADE)

THOROUGHNESS

 The situation with thoroughness of the provided information improved although insignificantly.

Comparison with the previous years demonstrates weak yet positive dynamics, however in comparison with 2008 it loses significantly by grade 4. The present dynamics therefore is not a situational one, and appears consistent based on the previous segmentations.


16. Comparative analysis: PLEASE RATE ACCORDING TO 5-POINT SCALE APPREHENSIBILITY AND QUALITY OF WRITTEN INFORMATION THAT WAS PROVIDED TO YOU AS A JOURNALIST BY THE AUTHORITIES (1 – LOWEST GRADE, 5- HIGHEST GRADE)

TRUSTWORTHINESS

 The situation with ‘ trustworthiness’ dynamics appears very unexpected. Despite the fact that among other criteria this is the

criterion with the highest rating, yet the dynamics based on the previous surveys is very negative.  It is connected firstly with such a fact that a number of respondents rated all criteria in sum as average and gave similar ratings to

‘ thoroughness’ based on the fact that the responses were not to the point, the information provided was skillfully distorted in the way that would benefit the authorities, the authorities kept to themselves real facts and figures, provided formal replies, etc.


17. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW THE SITUATION WITH JOURNALISTS’ ACCESS TO INFORMATION CHANGED WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS?

N=239

 Half of the respondents consider that the situation with journalists’ access to information hasn’ t

changed within the last 12 months. Four out of ten respondents believe that situation changed for worse (38.7%).  An insignificant fraction of respondents are optimistic and claim that the situation is improving (9.1%). Such disposition of estimates indicates that the respondent in general do not notice significant change for the worse, however certain negative trends mentioned by a third of the respondents can stimulate such change in the nearest future.


Comparative analysis: IN YOUR OPINION, HOW THE SITUATION WITH JOURNALISTS’ ACCESS TO INFORMATION CHANGED WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS?

 If in 2009 overwhelming majority (62%) considered that the situation changed for worse, this year

respondents believe that the situation rather stayed as it was (52%). Optimist are as always very few, and this year their number hasn’t increased significantly. Neither have the numbers of pessimists increased, therefore we can conclude that certain stability is present.


Demographics of Respondents and Geography of the Project


18. FOR HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED IN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM?

N=282

ď‚— Only a quarter of the respondents have been conducting investigative journalism reports for more than 6

years (23.6%). In general, more than half of the respondents have been working in the investigative field less than 6 years (68.5%), and more than one third of the respondents conduct investigative journalism reports from 1 to 3 years (37.3%).


18. FOR HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED IN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM?

COM M ENTS ď‚— The current segmentation does not correlate with the number of respondents who did not conduct

investigations this year. And this does not seem strange, because experienced investigators also answered this question, yet for the lack of time, other journalist work or by coincidence did not conduct any investigations during the last 12 months. A part of them changed their profile and devoted themselves mostly to news, editor’ s work, etc. Another part of them complains of pressure, lack of interest towards investigative journalism on behalf of their editors, ungrounded risks, lack of time and finance, lack of access to extremely important information.


19. YOU ARE STAFF JOURNALIST OF WHAT MEDIA ORGANIZATION? (20 responses) TYPE OF MASS MEDIUM THAT YOU WORK FOR?

N=321

ď‚— More than half of the respondents work for press. Quite significantly, increased a number of

journalists from internet publications. Radio is underrepresented. Respondents identified themselves as free-lance journalists even if they did not work full-time yet cooperated with various mass media. It is interesting to not that the biggest number of free-lancers is in the capital. ď‚— The overwhelming majority of the respondents are representatives of private-owned, regional media organizations. National as well as communal media is being presented in small segments.


21. SEX

More than half of the respondents are females (56.7%), however compared with the previous surveys the number of males has increased (mainly owing to the respondents from the category ‘ experienced’ ).

22. AGE N=321

Overwhelming majority is not older than 45 (82.2%). About one half of the respondents are middle-aged journalists (from 30 to 45 ). More than one third of the respondents are young people under 30 yrs. Almost all respondents from this group have up to 3 years experience in investigative journalism.


Survey Geography

30.4% 33.5% 19.3%

16.8%

ď‚— Geography of this project is very irregular. The best represented were the participants from central and western regions

of Ukraine (33.5 % and 30.4% respectively). Respondents from Southern Ukraine and Crimea were less almost by half (16.8 %). Respondents from the eastern regions (19.3%) were less by one third compared to respondents from the West.


Effectiveness of investigative journalism reports in Ukraine ANALYTI C REPORT

Prepared by NGO ‘Youth Democratic Initiatives’ in cooperation with NGO ‘ERA – European Research Association” Implemented by K. Nastoyascha Data Analysis – І.Lans’ka Head of the project – S. Gorna


Survey result