Media freedom in Ukraine which is one of the fundamental basics of civil society development, guarantor of the up-to-date, verified and objective information in conditions of pandemic, infodemic and economical crisis with ecological catastrophe, came under influence of threats which are slowing the democratic development and are complicating the exit from quarantine.
Threats to media freedom during pandemic are existing at legislative, economical, financial and human rights defense levels. In conditions of quarantine, economic crisis, infodemic and ecological catastrophe journalists have no access to official events of power bodies, do not attend their sittings. This caused lowering the opportunity to control the transparence of the work of power authorities and other institutions.
Due to the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 quarantine a serious threat to media freedom in Ukraine appeared. Regional, city and district printed newspapers which are the closest to their readers by content have suffered on it.
Quarantine conditions made especially hard the results of ecological catastrophe in Western Ukraine due to raising the water level in mountaineous rivers up to 10 metres and following severe floods which destroyed roads, bridges, buildings and access to Internet communication.
Based on the situation analysis, threats to media freedom and rights of journalists have been differentiated, researches of violation of media freedom in Ukraine during period of quarantine (March-July 2020) by the Institute of Mass Information (IMI) and media materials about detaining Ukrainian journalists in Russian prisons during the war on Donbas were reviewed and summarized.
The following methods assisted to fulfillment the tasks of research: analysis of documents about regulation of media freedom of international organizations where Ukraine is a member – United Nations, the Council of Europe, OSCE, International Federation of Journalists, comparative analysis of data by international organization “Reporters without Frontiers”, statistical analysis of polls of chief editors of local newspapers by National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.
In order to support democratic development of Ukraine, defense of freedom of the local press, its journalists and other staff threats to freedom of Ukrainian regional, district an city newspapers and to journalists’ security had been identified and differentiated, the necessity to fasten in Ukrainian legislation the status of journalism as one of the key spheres of the country’s information security in fightning with pandemic and infodemic had been proved, legislative ways of counterfeiting threats to media freedom had been developed.
In particular, in order to reduce threats to media freedom in Ukraine it is necessary to amend Civil, Criminal, Labour codes and the Code of administrative violations by including there articles which proclaim the key status of journalists’ activity in conditions of COVID-19 quarantine. These changes are necessary in order to obtain:
- legislative guarrantees for obtaining social defense by journalists who suffered violations, to introduce the mandatory insurance of life and health for the costs of the owner of the media;
- mandatory insurance of journalists and editorial technics (video and photo cameras, notebooks, tablets, smartphones and other digital technics) for costs of media owners;
- to arrange up-to-date medical treatment, social and psychological support and medical-psychological rehabilitation to journalists who survived illnesses, physical and psychological injuries during their professional work for costs of guilty party and those who organized beatings, injuries and traumas against them.
The results of research have very important scientific and practical meaning for improving media freedom and journalists’ security because they widen media-theoretical, theoretical and law presentations about threats to media freedom in Ukraine in pandemic conditions, assist the opposition to infodemic, prove the legal support of journalists’ security and assist to readers’ rights for prompt information without disinformation.
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