Is it possible to write about the EU and other complex international issues articulately and simply? This was the key question addressed at the European Neighbourhood BBC News Reporter Training that brought together nearly 20 Ukrainian journalists on Nov. 14 and 15 in Kyiv.
Organized through the EU-funded Media Neighbourhood programme, the training’s goal is, “to create content that is watchable, listenable and readable for ordinary people,” says Russell Peasgood, BBC media trainer. “Whenever you make a story on complicated issues, especially involving EU, you have to explain how it is relevant to individual person. If you don’t do it, there is no point in broadcasting the story,” he adds.
Peasgood’s Ukrainian colleagues agree with this idea, saying they are keen to show the advantages the EU is bringing to ordinary citizens. “We try to make stories about European experience, to illustrate positive changes,“ explains Nadiya Dermanska, special Brussels correspondent for INTER TV.
“For example, travelling is easier for people in Europe; with the Euro it is easier to compare prices, and common legislation improves the quality of products,” states Andriy Hetman, Head of ICTV’s international department.
Information from EU institutions is readily available but journalists working with it sometimes get bogged down in the bureaucracy, the trainers warned. Jillian Hocking, Media Course Coordinator at Swinburne University of Technology (Australia), called on journalists to be brave and critical, “to take the story and read between the lines, to see beyond the press-release or interviews.”
Audiences’ interest in the news is only one part of the issue; accuracy and knowledge is the other. David Stulik, EU Delegation Press and Information Officer, describes that more and more information about EU initiatives has been appearing in the Ukrainian media. However, the content of these stories is often too schematic and trivial and according to Stulik, many journalists do not look deeper to investigate the issues. Among the great number of Ukrainian journalists who write about the EU, there are indeed few who are EU integration experts.
The training helped Ukrainian journalists respond to these challenges and improve their knowledge and skills. Talking to international media experts and EU representatives helped them recognize the practical benefits to Ukraine of EU integration. “As Ukraine is moving towards the EU, we have to meet certain standards of life … and this is why we want to show what practical benefits Ukrainians can get from the EU,” Hetman concludes.
The three year Media Neighbourhood Programme will train over 1200 journalists across 17 EU neighbouring countries and territories (including Ukraine). BBC Media Action is leading several international media organizations to run the € 4.5 million project.
See below pictures of the event.
ENPI media training, a set on Flickr.