After 10 Years, Ukraine Media Program Leaves Lasting Legacy
When Lucy Himstedt watches news broadcasts of Ukraine's TV Chernivitsi from her home in the United States, she remembers it wasn't that long ago the station didn't even have a website. Today, it boasts a state-of-the-art news set and a sophisticated Internet operation.
The former general manager of WFIE in Indiana was just one of 100 U.S. media professionals who, over the last 10 years, worked with Ukrainian journalists and news outlets to develop the country’s media sector. IREX played a major role in recruiting key experts, providing training and resources, and facilitating a total of 28 similar partnerships under the Ukraine Media Partnership Program (UMPP). As a result, media outlets across the country are using more digital technology and generating sustainable revenues.
At a time when Ukraine’s press freedom is under increasing pressure, the program and the connections made are more important than ever, according to the U.S. Embassy Kyiv Deputy Chief of Mission Eric Schultz.
“This network [among the participants] is a valuable tool to spread best practices and new ideas between media companies in our two countries,” he said. “The benefits continue long after the partners have returned home from their exchange visits.”
Outlets are using more digital technology
Six outlets developed their own multimedia newsrooms with advice from U.S. counterparts and increased delivery of content through mobile and online platforms. Several others are in the process of setting up convergent newsrooms.
Ukrainians at one outlet launched kolorama.poltava.ua, an entertainment website that helps local citizens and tourists learn interesting things about the city and see places worth visiting.
Outlets are more business-minded
Corporation RIA used U.S. business management recommendations to increase its revenue by 30% within a few years. They purchased a press, launched publications in four other cities and became one of the strongest media corporations in Ukraine.
A leading newspaper in the Poltava region, KOLO, widened its business to three print and five online products, each with its own target audience and unique content and development strategy. They now enjoy increased audience and ad revenue.