25 Ukrainian newsrooms publish their JTI transparency reports and get rated by NewsGuard to enhance prospects for philanthropic and advertising support

Twenty-five Ukrainian news outlets have published their JTI transparency reports. This is the first batch of beneficiaries of Reporters Without Borders’ Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) Emergency Protocol, deployed in Ukraine for the first time ever in partnership with NewsGuard, which also rated these sites for their trustworthiness. Even in times of war, these assessments prove that the best journalism standards can be upheld.

Hromadske, Tvoemisto.tv, Poltava Wave, Detector Media, The Village Ukraine, Kyiv Post and Ukraine’s public broadcaster Suspilne are among the first beneficiaries of this crisis response mechanism. The primary goal is to help accelerate the alignment of media outlets in at-risk markets, starting with Ukraine, with the excellence criteria of the JTIan international standard for news publishers launched in 2021 at the initiative of the Paris-based non-profit Reporters Without Borders (RSF) – and to quickly get their NewsGuard rating. This allows global advertisers, funders and tech companies to support endangered journalism in Ukraine from news outlets with high trust scores based on NewsGuard’s nine criteria relating to credibility and transparency.

RSF will distribute grants for participants among the initial 25 newsrooms with a published transparency report that aspire to be awarded a JTI Certification. A select group will receive free audits from an external, independent certifier to verify what is declared in their transparency report and obtain the certification.

“The JTI Emergency Protocol has proved to be efficient in bringing light to trustworthy sources in the Ukrainian media landscape,” said Thibaut Bruttin, assistant director general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF). “RSF and NewsGuard invite media executives in Ukraine to get in touch to be included in the next round of beneficiaries, as our two organisations will let additional Ukrainian newsrooms participate in the programme in weeks to come.”

“These initial ratings prove the resilience of Ukrainian media,” said Chine Labbé, Vice-President of Partnerships and Managing Editor for Europe at NewsGuard, who oversaw the emergency protocol for NewsGuard. “Many Ukrainian outlets, from local news websites to national media, have demonstrated high journalism standards, despite terrible circumstances, both in terms of shrinking revenue and operational difficulties. This proves that it is possible to maintain the highest standards even in the most dire times, and that standards matter.”

Filling their JTI transparency reports and getting rated by NewsGuard also helped the participating media to identify gaps and areas of improvement in their journalistic practices.

Six media outlets have already improved their practices after engaging with NewsGuard’s analysts as part of the programme, joining a group of more than 2,100 news outlets around the world that have improved their journalistic practices to earn higher NewsGuard trust scores. Encouragingly, several more Ukrainian outlets have said that they would continue tweaking their transparency practices to improve their score over time. Some are even working on new, strengthened editorial guidelines, as a result of the programme.

"We at Tvoe Misto (Your City) have always tried to be as responsible and transparent in our work as possible. That's why we differentiate news from opinions… That's why we tell our audience about our mistakes. That's why we strive to maintain the highest standards of journalism every day,” said Taras Yatsenko, founder and executive director of Tvoemisto.tv, a Lviv-based local news website and online TV station. “But our participation in the project of RSF and NewsGuard taught us that there are still some things we can improve. We do hope that creating a new online platform for our content will help us become even more transparent, get the highest score and thus confirm our motto : ‘Media You Can Trust’."

Yaroslav Druziuk, editor-in-chief of The Village Ukraine, said: "The evaluation process was a welcome opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to quality journalism, both editorially and in internal and external accountability."

Since the Russian invasion started, in February 2022, more than 200 Ukrainian media outlets shut down, either temporarily or permanently, for reasons ranging from seizures, destroyed premises and/or equipment, occupation or economic challenges – most notably, the collapse of the local advertising market, the heavy reliance on grants, donations or paid subscriptions. There are also human challenges such as internal displacement of journalists, mobilisation, or psychological pressure/burnout of journalists who became war reporters overnight. The JTI Emergency Protocol fits within RSF’s proposals to strengthen journalism and the news publishing landscape.

Ukrainian media outlets have also faced issues related to content moderation, monetisation or discoverability. This results from major tech groups, ad tech companies or marketers lacking appropriate information about media outlets and publishers that thoroughly demonstrate their level of trustworthiness. With the JTI emergency protocol powered by NewsGuard, the hope is that all the above actors, as well as grant-making organisations, and other funders can reward ethical and professional journalism and facilitate the access to the information they provide to communities in critical contexts.

Ukrainian news websites with high trust scores will be featured in NewsGuard’s “Inclusion Lists” for digital advertising, which are used to place programmatic advertising on websites as well as for broadcast and podcast advertising. Advertisers, ad agencies and ad-tech companies will therefore have an easy tool for including these high-quality Ukrainian publishers in their programmatic and other ad placements to help offset the collapse of the advertising market in Ukraine, and to show their support to Ukrainian media and democracy.

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