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: 19-09-2002
Journalism Ethics Committee: STATEMENT

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The Committee cannot but to establish a fact of grave violation of journalism ethics standards by mass media and by the central television channels in the first place while providing information on political events in Ukraine, the events that preceded protests of September 16, 2002 and in the course of informing on the actual actions.

Among the violations registered by the Committee were the following:

- hashing up oppositions activities, failure to give the opposition an opportunity to explain their demands, undisguised blockade of the parties and blocs leaders statements that has been continuing starting from the very first press-conference of the opposition. This pertains both to commercial channels and to the national channel financed at the expense of the Ukraine taxpayers money, among them of those, supporting the opposition. It is worth mentioning that the political forces that took part in the protests received more than 55% of the votes in March of 2002. The fact that the seven most popular TV-channels aired identical footage on the executive powers position as to manifestations is unprecedented in the history of the independent Ukraines journalism;

- reducing the number of participants in manifestations in Kyiv by both giving wrong numbers to the audience and by using a specially tailored footage. Some of the television channels nevertheless provided coverage that gave the viewers true impression of the number of participants and others gave the footage filmed at the European Square before the bulk of the demonstrators arrived or frames demonstrating but a single sector of the demonstration without giving its full view;

- lifted out of context fragments of the actions leaders speeches did not provide the viewers with a single idea of true intentions of the actions participants, of their aims and means to attain those objectives;

- biased nature of giving information on political composition of the manifestation, underscoring the left whereas apart from Alexandr Moroz and Piotr Simonenko Victor Yuschenko and Yulia Timoshenko also participated in the events;

- almost complete absence of interviews with rank-and-file demonstrators. This seems even more biased on the background of the newsreels on the eve of the events brimming with flash-interviews with kyivers who were against the protests. An impression is formed that the channels try to convince a viewer that a man in the street just doesnt have an attitude toward political events once they are antipresidential;

- giving statements of the power departments heads on the manifestations and expected consequences without an attempt to verify the statements made or to give position of the manifestations leaders to balance the above. Stress was made on professional style of the law enforcements operations during the manifestation while there was no information whatsoever on how the same law enforcement organs prevented protesters to reach Kyiv from other regions of Ukraine;

The Journalism Ethics Committee is of the opinion that the above was is violation of the following provisions of the Ethics Code of Ukraine journalist:

- respect for the publics right to receive full and unbiased information on the facts and events is the foremost duty of a journalist (item 5);

- editing of materials including pictures, texts, headings, compliance of the video footage with sound tracks, etc. must not falsify the contents (item 7).

The Committee is to reiterate that the above facts may testify to pressure on journalists, which contradicts item 15 of the Ethics Code A journalist may not be made to write or to do anything else through official orders once such work is at variance with his/her personal convictions or principles. The Committee calls upon heads of Ukraine television channels to correct the situation. If distrust to mass media progresses, and the fact of such distrust was embodied in the 2002 parliamentary elections results, it may lead to professional death of Ukraines journalism, to its turning into an instrument of a single viewpoint.

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