The plan, developed with representatives of the newspaper industry, was endorsed at a NUJU-organised conference of 200 editors and journalists held on 25 March. The demands, also supported by the International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ), will now be sent to the Government and Parliament in a bid to save the sector, protect media jobs and protect freedom of information in Ukraine.
Demands agreed by conference participants to protect media and jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic, included:
- The creation of a Media Support Fund following models in other European countries
- Tax exemptions for the media until the end of the lockdown
- Free access for journalists to all governmental activities and events during the pandemic
- Soft loans for media development
- Financial measures to save jobs
- The creation of two working groups at the Ukrainian Parliament to discuss solutions and tax stimulus programs for Ukrainian media
It was also announced that the national postal operator “Ukrposhta” will not increase its tariffs for the delivery of newspapers in the second half of 2021.
High level Ukrainian officials also participated in the conference, including Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy, Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation.
A critically-hit sector by the pandemic
Prior to the conference NUJU carried out a survey among Ukrainian journalists and editors which revealed the critical impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the country’s media sector. 192 journalists and editors from 24 regions of Ukraine and Kyiv took part in the survey, conducted between March 1st and 25th.
86% of the publishers said they have lost advertising, 50% of them had reduced workers’ salaries and 40% had reduced staff. Results showed that 28% of the editors cancelled assignments with freelancers while 5% switched from print to online. 5% of the respondents stopped their activity completely during the pandemic.
NUJU, with the support of the IFJ, conducted a similar survey In April 2020. The new survey will help assess journalists' current situation one year after the beginning of the pandemic.
President of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, Sergiy Tomilenko said: “This contact with Government is very important for our Union. We strive to be a powerful voice for Ukrainian journalists. We do not politicize the issues of freedom of speech, journalists' rights and safety, media business, or postal delivery. We are just discussing a corporate issue - the survival of the media and the right to a profession”.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “The Ukrainian government must hear NUJU’s and the media sector demands and take prompt action to save media, freedom of information and jobs in the country. Launching a financial support fund for journalists and investing in media development will be key for the strengthening of Ukrainian democracy.”