“It’s better not to lie”

On Wednesday 13 March a group of prominent journalists held a press conference to announce the launching of a journalist initiative entitled “It’s better not to lie”.

The initiative involves running special training courses in institutes and faculties of journalism where leading Ukrainian journalists will teach students how to avoid becoming slaves to censorship or simply writing material “to order” when they come to work in the media.

The training courses are designed to prepare future journalists for confronting such censorship and ordered material, understanding what they can do to their career and learning to counter such demands on them.

The press conference was attended by Mykola Veresen, Yehor Sobolyev from Channel 5, Marichka Padalko from 1+1, Ilarion Pavlyuk from K1, Lidiya Taran from Channel 5, Nataliya Ligachova from “Telekritika” and Mykhailyna Skoryk, leader of the Kyiv Independent Trade Union.

Asked by journalists what the methods were for countering censorship and material to order Mykola Veresen replied that he does have such methods but hinted that he could already afford such methods, and that they might not be appropriate for young journalists. Nataliya Ligachova offered the simple recipe: “Hold to your stand whatever the cost!” Ilarion Pavlyuk pointed out that young journalists need first and foremost to build resistance through idealism, yet already in their institutes it can seem a good idea to do “synchron” for 500 dollars and they can’t even imagine any other journalism except that where you earn money for material on order. Therefore, Pavlyuk believes, you need to begin with people’s worldview and that is the aim of the whole project.

Here Mykola Veresen couldn’t resist a seditious note and did after all provide a recipe: he suggested demanding a million for such “synchron”.  He considers that in that way firstly journalists will really earn, and secondly there won’t be enough millions for all the “synchron” and there will be a chance to do something that hasn’t been commissioned.

Lidiya Taran expressed serious doubts about the chance of convincing young journalists not to cooperate with the system already existing in the country and unlikely to change in the near future. Here an argument developed between her and Mykola Veresen since he believes that the problem is not in the system, but in journalists themselves, those who don’t want to become professionals and do something interesting, but only want to earn cash.

With regard to this Yehor Sobolyev cited the example of the attitude as a journalist of Viacheslav Pikhovshek who first made his “Pyaty kut” [“Fifth corner”] and after that sold his name to who he wanted.

Yehor Sobolyev called on the new generation of journalists to first do something to create their own name, something of quality and interesting, and then decide whether to be independent or to simply produce material to order. However professionalism needs to take first place.
Yehor Sobolyev also commented that journalists will never be able to defend themselves and their position if they don’t have independently thinking readers, since after all on material to order you won’t bring up free thinkers who can make their own personal free choice. And this means that when the time comes for journalists to defend themselves, the readers will not support them or their publications. This also needs to be understood and remembered when carrying out professional duties.

The initiative “It’s better not to lie” has been organized by the civic organization “For professional journalism”, together with the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine, the Commission on Journalist Ethics, “Telekritika” and the National Association of Broadcasters.

“It’s better not to lie” is headed by six leading higher education institutes with faculties of journalism and will run over the next three months.

The courses will be run by several dozen of the best journalists in Ukraine.

Viktoria Onyshchenko


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