Медіатренер, медіаконсультант, кризовий медіаменеджер
Керівник Центру моніторингу та аналітики ГО «Детектор медіа»
15:45
Вівторок, 26 Лютого 2019

Methodology of television and radio programs monitoring by NGO "Detector Media" (news, final weekly newscasts, journalistic authorial programs, political talk shows, interviews)

Methodology of television and radio programs monitoring by NGO "Detector Media" (news, final weekly newscasts, journalistic authorial programs, political talk shows, interviews)
Methodology of television and radio programs monitoring by NGO "Detector Media" (news, final weekly newscasts, journalistic authorial programs, political talk shows, interviews)

Читати українською

Content:

1. Introduction

1.1. The purpose of monitoring

1.2. Objects and subject of a monitoring research

1.3. Forms of monitoring

1.4. Methods of assessment

1.5. Terminology of monitoring

2. Determination of compliance with the standards of news reporting in different kinds of media product

2.1. Television and radio news

2.2. Final information and analytical weekly newscasts

2.3. Journalistic authorial programs (in the genres of journalistic investigation, special reporting, etc.)

2.4. Social and political talk shows

2.5. Interview (as a separate program or as a guest studio within other programs or live blocks)

3. Identification of materials showing signs of order (censorship)

3.1. General approach

3.2. Formal signs of order (violation of standards)

3.3. Informal signs of order

4. Determination of tonality of materials with signs of order (censorship)

5. Determination of the hushing-up by the news of socially important topics

1. Introduction

1.1. The purpose of monitoring

By conducting monitoring, “Detector Media” sets forth four main tasks:

1. To inform the media audience about which materials are not trusted, and also which political forces, politicians and officials, institutions and organizations, companies and brands are likely to order hidden advertising or press on the media.

2. To increase the level of media literacy of the audience so that they develop skills of critical assessment of the media content.

3. To influence on the media and journalists to comply with professional standards, refuse hidden advertising as a source of income, resist pressure and external influences.

4. To record the level of compliance with professional standards by editors and journalists and the dynamics of change of this level to stimulate editors and journalists to raise the professional quality of their materials.

1.2. Objects and subject of monitoring research

The objects of research of various monitoring are different by audience and the direction of TV and radio companies broadcasting information programs:

all-Ukrainian and network, regional programs including regional branches of NPBCU,

"omnivorous" and niche news programs.

“Detector Media” monitors programs of different news genres:

the news,

final reporting and analytical weekly newscasts,

genre authorial programs

social and political talk shows

interviews.

The method of researching them is unique in all monitoring of “Detector Media”; although in various types of monitoring, different positions are recorded:

  1. general compliance with the news reporting standards;
  2. availability of materials showing signs of order (censorship);
  3. determination of the tonality of these materials (positive or negative towards a certain person);
  4. hushing-up by the news of socially important topics making the information picture of the day incomplete

1.3. Forms of monitoring

Monitoring may be presented as editorial materials, i.e. it records certain violations without assessments and conclusions.

Monitoring can be conducted in the form of journalistic authorial articles. Where the author-expert can make certain estimations or conclusions, confirming them with the actual material (i.e., with the examples from the researched materials).

1.4. Methods of assessment

Experts use two varieties of features to assess journalistic materials:

formal, that is, the nature of violations by a journalist of the standards of information broadcasting (section 2 of this document is devoted to it)

and informal (more details on it are in section 3).

1.5. Terminology of monitoring

A material with the violation of standards is the broadest concept that means that the creators of the material did not meet one or more of basic professional standards for news reporting for unknown reasons (see Section 2). It is used in monitoring with specific examples of violations of standards in a journalistic material.

A material showing signs of order (censorship) – the “Detector Media” monitoring experts can record such probable signs, but they can not claim that a specific material has been paid or created under pressure. The reason for this is that both customers (censors) and performers (editors, reporters) carefully conceal the facts of order or censorship in most cases. When the “Detector Media” experts determine the material itself showing the signs of order (censorship), they are based on complex standards violations in a material, which are typical for order, and on certain informal signs.

The following terms can only be used by experts in the authorized types of monitoring and are a subjective assessment of a particular expert justifying it by providing evidence - the same formal and informal signs.

A paid-for material - can be used in the monitoring of a specific journalistic material only in cases when an expert has an irrefutable confirmation that a material was made for illegal payment, or for benefit of owners or political patrons of a media, or under pressure from the authorities, or in the order of internal corporate promotion. In general authorial arguments of an expert, this term can be used arbitrarily.

“Jeansa” (paid journalism) – a media jargon word, which means a material with hidden advertising / adverse publicity or material paid illegally. Media professionals interpret this term freely (in particular, some distinguish between “jeansa” and “zakazukha” (something ordered), and so on.), furthermore it has a sharply negative connotation. The use of this jargon is possible only in authorial journalistic texts and only in general considerations, but not with regard to a specific journalistic material.

“Parquet” – a media jargon word, which means materials covering the activity of officials and politicians, both representatives of the authorities and representatives of the opposition, formally and one-sidedly, usually positively. Usually such materials are deprived of public importance or (even if the topic has a public importance) distort the reality for the audience by limiting to the pure description of an official event and unilaterally giving floor only to certain politicians or officials. Usually they include a description of the official's or politician's involvement in certain events (protocol materials), retelling or quoting their statements, often without the need for background and balance of opinions. At the same time, the presence of officials or politicians in journalistic materials is not an automatic indication of order. It is important that any statements by politicians or officials regard the essence of an event to be covered, are balanced by comments from other parties to the conflict and there would be presented all necessary backgrounds. A jargon word “parquet” is used in the authorized types of monitoring.

2. Determination of compliance with the standards of news reporting in different kinds of media product

In this part of the monitoring, each material is assessed for the compliance of journalists and editors with six classical standards of news reporting:

balance of opinions

quick delivery,

reliability

separating facts from opinions

accuracy

completeness of information.

Violation by journalists of one or more of these standards - unconscious or deliberate - leads at least to distorting the picture of reality for the audience, as well as at maximum becomes the subject of manipulation of the consciousness of the audience of news programs.

Another standard - information comprehensibility – is not assessed in the monitoring, since its violation does not affect the distortion of the content, and only complicates the perception of information by the audience.

2.1. Television and radio news

In the monitoring, they mainly research primary (evening) newscasts in prime time. They consider reports on major socio-political events that make up the information picture of the day, and original journalistic investigations. Every news stuff is rated as a whole (studio intro + story + outro).

2.1.1. Balance of opinions standard

Journalists should give the floor to the representatives of all parties to this conflict in order to give a high-level coverage of any conflict topic, in order to give the audience the opportunity to decide independently whose arguments are more convincing. Compliance with this standard is of paramount importance in cases where someone accuses someone of something or criticizes - journalists should give the accused a full opportunity to respond to charges or criticisms. In the "Detector Media" monitoring, they may record the cases where the floor is given to the accused party formally as a violation of the standard, - for example, the party in the material speaks out not on the essence of the conflict, but on minor circumstances. This is a simulation of balance and may be evidence of manipulation. If such accusations or criticisms are expressed in live stream (live interview from the place of event or a studio guest), a newscaster should voice the editorial intention to get a comment in response from the other party later. If a newscaster does not do this, then the monitoring records this as a violation of the standard of balance of opinions.

In any conflicting subject that affects the interests of large groups of people (this is called the collective side of the conflict), their position and arguments or assessments of actions or decisions of the authorities in the context of their own interests should be expressed by the typical representatives of a group. This moment has high risks of manipulation, since in censored materials, journalists can specifically pick up those representatives of the collective side of the conflict who are bribed in one way or another by the other side of the conflict and express arguments and assessments favorable for this side.

Within each individual material (or in the block of materials on a single topic during the newscast), clearly stated positions of all parties to a conflict should be presented. The position of the collective side of a conflict (that is, a large group of people) should be expressed by a typical representative. In case the motives of the positions of the parties are not obvious, the reasoning (explanation) of these positions by the parties is deemed necessary.

In cases where a particular party to the conflict refuses to comment on a subject, a journalistic material should clearly state this fact of refusal along with the mandatory indication of its reasons from the words of a particular person who refused to comment. Abstract or misplaced refusals like “the ministry does not comment” are not deemed complying with the standard, since they do not certainly reveal whether journalists actually requested such comment, and whom exactly they requested to comment.

In time-sensitive cases, the balance of opinions standard can only be achieved in time. For reasons of efficiency, the news can present information without having got the required comment of a particular party to the conflict. In the "Detector Media" monitoring, such cases will not be considered a violation of the standard of balance, but the following conditions are mandatory: from the event itself to the news broadcast, there was little time (2-3 hours from the event itself to the news broadcast when it is objectively difficult to have time to find a representative of a party to a conflict that was not present at the event); in a material (in the story itself or in intro / outro), it should be clearly stated that the editors have not yet been able to find the commentator, but continue to search for him to hear his opinion; in the next day's news broadcast, there should be a comment of this party to the conflict (or it should be clearly stated of a refusal to comment indicating a reason for refusal) with a proper background to the yesterday's information.

Let us assume an example when in hourly short news broadcasts on the radio (considering limited timing), the comment of one party to a conflict is voiced in one broadcast, and comment of the other party to a conflict is voiced in the next broadcasts. In such case, the studio text should say that the comment of the other party to the conflict will be presented in next broadcasts. And when presenting it, the comment of the other party to the conflict, which sounded in previous news broadcasts, should be mentioned in the background.

In complex subjects, especially in the genre of journalistic investigation, it is also necessary to assess the parties' arguments by an independent (that is, who is not a party to the conflict, has no interest in in this conflict) and competent expert to adhere to the comprehensive balance of opinions. At that, his competence in the subject should be confirmed by journalists for their audience in one way or another (an academic degree, work experience, corresponding to the subject, etc.).

In the monitoring, commentators whose competence was not confirmed, will not be deemed experts. Commentators, whose background comprises of the work as political consultants for certain political forces being a party to the conflict or having a political or business interest in the subject, may not act as political experts (political analysts).

When covering mass protests, the number of participants in an action should not be assessed by journalists, but by the organizers of the action (or participants if the action arose spontaneously) and law enforcement officers who ensure the rule of law during the action. If the score is announced only by the organizers or only by law enforcement officers, then this is recorded as a violation of the standard of balance of opinions.

2.1.2. Quick delivery standard

Any news of the day must be presented in the final newscast of the same day, except those that happened after the news broadcast. Observance of this standard is also monitored only in comparison: what day did different channels present the news. And comparing to when this news appeared on the newsline of the UNIAN news agency.

The efficiency of information presentation ("on the same day") is evaluated in its pure form only in relation to reporting materials, i.e. reports on events. The efficiency from the point of view of binding to a particular day is not evaluated for news genres such as journalistic investigations (journalists search for non-obvious reasons or consequences of a particular event or trend), essay (story about a unique person, object, phenomenon, story from the past) and a special report (a story about the life of a low-reachable location, which is usually organized by editorial boards as a separate expedition). In all these genres, news for the audience is a fundamentally new information that journalists gained from working on the material of these genres.

2.1.3. Information reliability standard

Reliability means a clear indication of the sources of each presented fact and clear authorization of every opinion from a journalistic material. Obtaining a certain set of facts about an event by a journalist as an eyewitness of the event is usually sufficiently confirmed by the picture taken on the scene. Using borrowed pictures (for example, taken from news agencies or other mass media) should also be authorized (at least, by the caption on the picture itself).

As an exception, individual facts (but only facts!) can be presented with the link to an anonymous information source considering the security of this source. The competence of the source should be noted (for example, in what department this person works) as well as the fact that the source wished to remain anonymous. A reference to an anonymous source of information is not considered to be a violation of the reliability standard only in those cases where it is obvious that the same facts could not be obtained from other open sources the journalist could fully refer to.

Unlike the facts, any opinion is always presented exclusively with reference to a specific person - the author of this opinion. From this point of view, the "general" indistinct references are unreliable ("law enforcement officials assert", "experts believe", etc.).

Links to any online source are a violation of the reliability standard, since any page on the Internet (social networks, personal sites, Internet media, mass media sites, official pages of official institutions) is too vulnerable to human errors, technical failures and hacker attacks. The latter has become quite widespread in the conditions of hybrid war. So, news journalists must independently verify the authenticity of any information found on the Internet (regardless of the nature of the resource) in real sources and refer to these sources in their materials.

From this point of view, the television news should not present the picture from the Internet, as well as radio - audio messages, without the careful verification of the facts. The key thing here is confirmation of the authenticity of the picture or audio message by the person who made them, or by the direct participants of these events. A material must necessarily report about the verification done by the editorial board and the authorship of a picture or audio message.

2.1.4. Standard of separating facts from opinions (conclusions, estimations, assumptions, etc.)

Firstly, this standard means the clear indication of the beginning and the end of each subjective opinion (conclusion, commentary, estimation, forecast, accusation, assumption, etc.) mentioned in a journalistic material. So, the audience should have a clear idea of where each subjective opinion starts and where it ends.

Secondly, a clear indication of authorship in the presentation of any opinion (no opinion can be presented anonymously). The most reliable observance of these two positions is achieved by the presentation of any subjective opinions by sync (in the direct language recorded on the camera or recorder and broadcasted in the news). When newscasters quote or narrate the other's subjective opinion, particular attention should be paid to the clear indication of the quotation / narration (for example, "Poroshenko said: "the quote" end of the quote" or "according to Hroysman, "the narration" - said the prime minister", etc.). Because quite often the boundaries of the quotation may not be obvious to the audience.

Thirdly, in the news, given this standard, any journalist’s (presenter or reporter) conclusions and estimations are unacceptable.

It should be noted that apart from purely emotional subjective estimations ("good" - "bad", "cheerful" - "sad", etc.), journalists very often use the estimation of measured concepts ("far" - "close", "heavy" - "light", "a lot" - "little", etc.), instead of providing a fact (distance in meters or kilometers, weight in grams, kilograms or tons, or quantity of something, respectively). In these cases, along with the standard of separating facts from opinions, the "Detector Media" monitoring also records violations of the completeness of information standard. In cases where the estimation has replaced the key fact for the understanding of a topic, the monitoring also records this as a violation of the standard of accuracy. 

A separate layer of estimative vocabulary, which, in addition to the violation of the standard, often shows signs of possible order, is the representation of simple steps with grand style vocabulary: "stated", "emphasized", and so on (representing a single action "said"), "arrived with a visit" ("arrived"), "negotiated" ("talked"), etc. This vocabulary is often used precisely in the "parquet" materials about high-ranking officials of different levels.

Another way of estimating what someone said is to represent it in words that estimate the modality or meaning of what is said: "expressed indignation", "expressed fears", "acknowledged", "assumed", and others like that.

Another major violation of the standard of separating facts from opinions (and automatically two other standards - the accuracy and reliability of information) is an unjustified generalization when the subjective opinion of one or several people is distributed to an indeterminately large number of people (all of whom journalists could not objectively question): "the protesters say", "the inhabitants of Odesa want", "experts believe", and so on.

2.1.5. The standard of accuracy of information

This standard implies the correspondence of each given fact with reality and the literal quotation (or retelling) of opinions. 

Accuracy in this case is determined by the presentation of this fact or opinion (in case of its quotation by indirect speech) by the UNIAN information agency. There are also cases where a single fact or a separate opinion is presented by most channels, and one channel presents it differently. In these cases, the monitoring reports that the journalists of this channel were wrong. If all the channels present the fact or opinion alike, and UNIAN otherwise, it is believed that the channels presented the fact or opinion correctly, and UNIAN was wrong.

The accuracy standard is also considered to be violated in the monitoring when journalists present a subjective opinion as a fact (for example, by calling the suspects criminals after the law enforcement officers).

The accuracy standard is considered to be violated when journalists substitute the measured fact with their own estimation, as well as in case of any unjustified generalization made by journalists (see section 2.1.4).

The accuracy standard is also considered to be violated in the case of the indistinct naming of the event's place or time of the event, if it is critical to the topic (see Section 2.1.6). 

2.1.6. The standard of completeness of information

In any event report (this is any form of a report: oral communication, short video forms, live, report story), there should be a clear answer to the classic report questions (what happened? where did it happen? when did it happen? how did it happen?).

At that, the geography of an event (the answer to the question where?) must be specific. Indistinct and generalized presentation ("in Kharkiv region", "in Lviv region", "in the center of Kyiv", etc.) is considered to be a violation of the standard of completeness of information.

The time of an event (the answer to the question when?) should also be specified specifically – at what time or how many hours before an event occurred. Generalized and indistinct presentation ("today", "in the morning", "in the afternoon") is not considered to be in compliance with the standard of completeness.

In some cases, when the specificity of the place or time of the event is most important, such indistinctness should also be recorded as a violation of the standard of accuracy of information.

The course of an event (where it began - what was continued - how it ended) should be told by a journalist clearly to the audience.

All key facts on the topic must be exhaustively presented in each material.

It is also mandatory to have qualitative backgrounds:

1) history, important for the clear understanding of an event, when it is the continuation or development of previous events,

2) an explanation of any complex concepts,

3) in certain topics, the third type of background may also be necessary - the context in which an event occurred (i.e., a reminder of interrelated events that may affect the event that is the subject of reporting).

Any violation of the balance of opinions standard (see section 2.1.1) automatically makes the material incomplete. Similarly, the material can not be considered complete when it violates the standard of reliability of information, that is, there are no specific references to the sources of actual information, and even more so on the authorship of subjective opinion (see section 2.1.3). The automatic violation of the standard of completeness of information is also the result of the conclusions or estimations of journalists, which conceal (not publicize) the facts which became the basis for these conclusions or estimations (see section 2.1.4).

2.1.7. Features of some standards application in the materials on the events on the frontline and temporarily occupied territories

When making news reports from the frontline or from frontline territories, journalists face objective restrictions that prevent from full compliance with the standards of accuracy, completeness and reliability of information. These restrictions are imposed with regard to the security concerns for military, civilians and journalists themselves. The “Detector Media” experts take into account that not all information is really accessible to journalists, and part of it has to be silenced by journalists in view of the real circumstances at the shooting location.

There are even more restrictions on the reporting on events in the temporarily occupied territories. Firstly, Ukrainian journalists do not have personal access there; therefore, they have to rely on information from residents of these territories or western mass media. In addition, in view of the security of their own informers from the occupied territories, in most cases, journalists are forced to hide them by referring to anonymous sources. In these cases, journalists can not detail the nature of their sources, because even the indication of where this person lives or what he/she is can be dangerous for the informant. The monitoring experts also take this moment into account.

With regard to the balance of opinions standard, journalists are not entitled (neither by law nor from the general considerations) to give the floor to the representatives of the aggressor-occupier or their sympathizers stating the ideas or calls to the violation of national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, propaganda of ideas of the country-occupant (ideas of the "Russian world", imperial and chauvinistic, discriminating against other countries and peoples), appeals to violence, etc.

None of these cases is recorded by the "Detector Media" monitoring as violation of standards, since war and occupation are the largest of all possible force majeure.

! Note for sections 2.2-2.5: All genre programs that contain journalistic or analytic elements should be clearly marked as authorial. "Detector Media" considers similar programs, where authorship is concealed, manipulative, since no subjectivity in journalism can be anonymous.

2.2. Final informational and analytical weeklies

2.2.1. Balance of opinions standard

It is assessed in the same way as in the news (section 2.1.2). That is, the balance of opinions must be sustained within each material or for each topic within the entire broadcast.

2.2.2. Quick delivery standard

In general, the coverage of any event that occurred during the reporting period for the broadcast of the program of the week is deemed efficient for the weekly. But it is quite permissible for the authors of the weekly to return to those events of the previous weeks if the editorial staff managed to find fundamentally new socially important information on these topics or if in a particular topic of previous weeks there was a comment from a party to a conflict that had previously refused to comment or was objectively inaccessible to journalists.

In weeklies broadcasted in the usual time of the final newscasts on the channel (that is, they are a substitute for the final newscasts on the day of broadcast), the monitoring of "Detector Media" considers the lack of the mentioning of those socially important events that occurred shortly before or at the time of the program broadcast to be the violation of the quick delivery standard.

2.2.3. Reliability standard

It is assessed in the same way as in the news (section 2.1.3). That is, the source of each fact, which is mentioned in a weekly, should be clearly indicated, and the authorship of each subjective opinion that is presented in it should be also clearly indicated.

2.2.4. Standard of separating facts from opinions

Unlike the news, a journalist-presenter, as a stated author of the weekly, and sometimes (if it is due to the declared format of the program) journalists, stated as authors of their reports in a weekly, have the right to express their own subjective opinions (conclusions, estimations, assumptions, etc.), and Detector Media monitoring does not record this as violation of the standard, provided journalists-authors adhere to the following rules:

  1. any subjective opinion of the author of a weekly or report should be based on a solid array of reliable facts, and not substitute certain facts. No known facts that do not confirm or deny the subjective opinion of the author should be silenced (such hushing-up is considered manipulation);
  2. the general balance of opinions must be complied with, including those which do not confirm or deny the author's opinion;
  3. the subjective opinion of the journalist-author should be clearly and unambiguously separated from the facts and opinions of other people, i.e. the bounds (beginning and end) of each journalist's subjective opinion should be obvious to the audience of the program;
  4. Each subjective opinion of the journalist-author should be clearly marked exactly as his personal opinion (due to the notation "in my opinion", "I believe", "I think", etc.). There is an option, when a certain subjective opinion is presented as the position of the editorial staff with the obligatory corresponding markings ("our editorial board believes" or "our channel calls", etc.).

2.2.5. Accuracy standard

It is assessed in the same way as in the news (section 2.1.5). That is, all reported facts must be accurate, all quotations of subjective opinions cited in a non-direct language must be literal and not taken out of context.

2.2.6. Completeness of information standard

It is assessed in the same way as in the news (section 2.1.6). Particular attention should be paid to the availability of all necessary backgrounds (for the search for which a weekly has much more time than daily news have).

2.3. Journalistic authorial programs (in the genres of journalistic investigation, special reporting, etc.) 

2.3.1. Balance of opinions standard

It is assessed in the same way as in the news (section 2.1.1). That is, within each topic, the floor must be given to representatives of all sides of the conflict, with the argumentation of each party.

An expert assessment of the arguments of the parties is an obligatory part of the journalistic investigation - its absence is considered a violation of the standard of balance of opinions. In this case, the competence of each expert should be explained to the audience. Experts can not be persons whose background causes the least doubts about them being unbiased.

2.3.2. Quick delivery standard

In general, it is not assessed. Authors of genre programs have the freedom to choose the topic, therefore, they may well address socially important topics even from a very remote past, if they consider (and substantiate it in their program) that the return to this topic is dictated by the fact that it has not lost its social weight over time, and the author managed to find fundamentally new facts or views on this topic.

2.3.3. Reliability standard

It is assessed in the same way as in the news (section 2.1.3). 

Genre programs are prepared less quickly than news, so the authors of these programs have enough time to check every single fact in reliable sources. The key “evidentiary” facts in a genre program must be verified from more than one source.

2.3.4. Standard of separating facts from opinions

It is assessed in the same way as in the final weeklies (section 2.2.4).

2.3.5. Accuracy standard

It is assessed in the same way as in the news (section 2.1.5). That is, all reported facts must be accurate, all quotations cited in non-direct language must be literal and not taken out from the context.

2.3.6. Completeness of information standard

It is assessed in the same way as in the news (section 2.1.6). The experts of "Detector Media" pay special attention to the presence of all necessary backgrounds.

2.4. Social and political talk shows

2.4.1. Balance of opinions standard

The balance of opinions in talk shows is ensured by the presence in the studio of representatives of all major parties to the discussed conflict. In case of refusal of any party to participate in a talk show, the host should clearly and correctly say about it at the beginning of the program (during the presentation of the participants) and remind at the end of the program. If the program is live, the host, announcing such refusal, has to offer to the refusing person to join the talk show during the program (in person or by telephone or video broadcast).

A host of a talk show must correctly give the floor to each participant during the program to respond to a criticism or accusation against him from another participant or audience. Each participant must have the opportunity and sufficient time to fully articulate his arguments. This is especially important in the case of his answer to the accusations.

The "Detector Media" monitoring assess compliance with the balance of opinions in talk shows not only in a specific broadcast, but also in long-term retrospective (in particular, recording the excessive use by an editorial staff of too frequent appearances in the program of some newsmakers and constant neglect of others).

2.4.2. Quick delivery standard

Not rated

2.4.3. Reliability standard

It is assessed in the same way as in the news (section 2.1.3) in all texts of a host and in reports (if reports are envisaged by the program format).

In addition, a host must demand that participants in a talk show name the source of each fact or the authorship of a subjective opinion that they say without naming the source or authorship respectively. If a host does not do this than monitoring records this as a violation of the standard.

2.4.4. Standard of separating facts from opinions

A host must clearly authorize his own subjective opinions (his conclusions, estimations or assumptions).

Violation of the standard of separating facts from opinions is the use by a host of evaluative vocabulary, which makes the questions "complementary" or, conversely, disrespectful to a participant of a talk show or "programs" the positive or negative attitude of participants of a talk show and audience to someone / something.

A host must not express or otherwise show his personal attitude to various participants in a talk show.

2.4.5. The standard of accuracy

It is assessed in the same way as in the news (section 2.1.5) in all the texts of a host and in reports (if they are envisaged by the program format).

In addition, a host must correct the false facts or statements voiced by participants in the talk show.

2.4.6. The standard of completeness of information

If the talk show participants provide information that needs backgrounds, a host must present these backgrounds himself or ask the participants to do this. If the host does not do this, the monitoring records this as a violation of the standard of completeness of information.

2.5. Interview (as a separate program or as a guest studio in other programs or air blocks)

Note: Only the forms of the journalist communicating (in the studio or on the camera for recording for further editing) with one person are considered here. Two people and more mean a talk show, where the balance is achieved simply by inviting the opponents to communicate (see section 2.4).

2.5.1. Balance of opinions standard

Depending on the interview method (recording by a camera or studio on a live stream) and a format specified by the editors (a separate program or guest studio in other programs, what is the periodicity of the program and what is the choice of subjects), the balance of opinions is achieved in one of the following ways:

  1. The interviewer may voice (by quote or in sync) the previous opinions of the opponents of his hero on the subjects that the hero expressed (the questions of the host can be formed as a proposal to the hero to comment on the opinion of his opponent voiced earlier, or, conversely, the host presents the previously said by a hero’s opponent on the topic as a background before or after the hero’s speech at the interview).
  2. If an interview is recorded and the program format provides for such opportunity, it is supplemented by comments by the hero's opponents.
  3. If live interviews and the program format provide for such opportunity (for example, it is a guest studio on the information channel), the broadcast group communicates promptly with the hero's opponent by telephone or video broadcast and takes him to the studio to answer the hero of the interview.
  4. If this is not possible (technically or by format), the host must clearly announce the editors’ intention to receive a comment from the hero’s opponent and present it later (in subsequent guest studios or in the next broadcast of a program).

The task of the host (interviewer) is to find out, before an interview or during it, about the person whom the hero considers his opponent personally, or at least what structure, so that, based on this, to determine the rank of a supposed opponent.

The indicating of the opponent's position by any of these methods is obligatory in all cases when the hero:

  1. comments on any outstanding or even controversial issue;
  2. criticizes someone for certain actions or inaction;
  3. accuses someone of something;
  4. mocks or offends someone.

If none of these methods of balancing the statements of an interview hero is not used, than the monitoring records it as a violation of the standard of balance of opinions.

In guest studios of an information channel, the observance of the balance of opinions on each topic is assessed by monitoring and during the information day - whether the channel presented arguments of all sides of the conflict on each conflict topic in at least in some form.

Like in the news, it is quite possible that a certain party to the conflict refuses to comment on the topic. In such cases, the fact of the refusal must be correctly voiced by a host. If he does not do this, than the monitoring records this as a violation of the standard.

2.5.2. Quick delivery standard

In general, it is not assessed.

2.5.3. Reliability standard

It is assessed, firstly, whether all references to sources are given in the course of presenting facts by a host, or whether a host clearly indicates the authorship of all subjective opinions that he mentions or quotes during an interview.

Secondly, a host should require a guest to name the source of each important fact presented by a hero, or the authorship of a subjective opinion that he quotes or refers to during an interview. The hero of an interview can tell them or not (this is his choice), but if a host admits the situation that a guest voices important facts without naming their sources, or refers to anonymous authors of some subjective opinions, and a host does not ask a hero to specify the source or authorship - this is recorded by the monitoring as a violation of the standard of reliability of information.

2.5.4. The standard of separating facts from opinions

A host must clearly authorize his own subjective opinions (his conclusions, estimations, assumptions, etc.) and separate them from the facts and opinions of other people whom he quotes.

Violation of the standard of separating facts from opinions is the use by a host of evaluative vocabulary, which makes the questions "complementary" or, conversely, disrespectful for a guest or "programs" the positive or negative attitude of a guest and audience to someone / something.

2.5.5. Accuracy standard

As regards the facts and quotes presented by a host, it is assessed in the same way as in the news (section 2.1.5).

In addition, an interviewer must correct the obviously false facts or allegations made during the interview by a guest.

2.5.6. The standard of completeness of information

If a guest voices information that needs backgrounds, then a host must present these backgrounds or ask the guest about it. If the host does not do this, this is considered a violation of the standard of completeness of information.

3. Identification of materials showing the signs of order (censorship)

3.1. General approach

This part of the monitoring is aimed at recording topics, facts and opinions presented by channels showing signs of order (censorship).

The “Detector Media” experts proceed from the premise that in terms of the quality of the information product received by the audience, the reasons and motives that caused this ordered material to be presented for somebody's benefit do not play any role. These reasons / motives can be very different:

external censorship when someone (for example, the president, prime minister, mayor, head of the regional state administration), having an influence on the television company, makes the news present or, on the contrary, suppress certain facts and opinions;

internal editorial censorship (dictated to the editorial board by the owner and the top manager, and introduced by the editors daily);

self-censorship of a journalist, the author of a material (mainly based on fear of the authorities, the owner or managers);

money or other "rewards" for a television company or particular director, editor or even reporter, given for the "correct" material;

the internal conviction of journalists in what is "correct", and what is "wrong", and the replacement of a true professional information officer's mission (to inform people) by the pseudo-mission ("influencing public opinion", "saving justice", etc.);

professional impropriety of journalists (ignorance of standards, inability to check facts, inability to negotiate on a comment, etc.).

Regardless of which of these reasons lies in the basis of a specific ordered material, the audience will in any case get distorted information.

The main difficulty of recording the ordered nature of certain materials in the media is that in most cases it is impossible to bring irrefutable evidence of the fact of the impact on the appearance of each specific material by external or internal censorship (pressure, threats, etc.) or money or "barter" payment. This can sometimes (but very rarely , in times of crisis) be publicly witnessed by the participants themselves (for example, managers or journalists). In most cases, all process participants (both censors and journalists) prefer not to recognize the fact of order (censorship).

With this in mind, conducting the monitoring designed to show the existence of this phenomenon, "Detector Media" is compelled to operate with certain assumptions. But these assumptions themselves are based on the monitoring of completely actual things. First, formal things – it is a major violation of one or more standards of informational journalism in a material, due to which information is distorted explicitly in favor of one of the parties to the conflict. These violations create a positive or, conversely, negative image of specific political forces or individual politicians, institutions or individual officials, business entities or individual business people. These distortions of information are achieved primarily by violations of such standards of information journalism as balance of opinions, separating facts from opinions, accuracy and reliability of information and completeness of information. Secondly, there are certain informal features that may increase the likelihood that one of the factors of order (censorship) has worked while preparing a particular material.

3.2. Formal signs of order (violation of standards)

Formal signs of order in the news are major violations of one or more standards of informational journalism, through which information is distorted in favor of one party to the conflict. These violations create a positive or, conversely, negative image of specific political forces or individual politicians, institutions or individual officials, business entities or individual business people. These distortions of information are achieved primarily by violations of such standards of information journalism as balance of opinions, separating facts from opinions, accuracy and reliability of information and completeness of information.

Typical materials with signs of order may be (but not necessarily):

positive materials about the activities of state institutions or individual officials when these materials violate the balance of opinions. In particular, the position of the collective side of the conflict, that is those people whose interests are directly affected by this activity, is absent or merely imitated (i.e., only carefully selected opinions "for" or only "against" are given). Or there is no position of political or business opponents of this activity or it is only imitated (i.e., comments are far from the purpose, on secondary circumstances, or they are not informative but purely emotional);

materials that cover the process of complex decision-making processes (for example, at parliamentary sessions or court sessions) without explaining the essence of the arguments and counterarguments of the opponents. Instead, such materials are based mainly on external emotional fragments of action;

"parquet" materials that consist of a message, an oral message (or an oral message with visuals on the television), and a sync / quote of a high-ranking official or a politician with mainly declarative statements; in which the "protocol" evaluative vocabulary of a solemn style is used ("declared", "emphasized", "arrived", "left", etc.), and which do not include the positions of political opponents and representatives of social groups directly related to this topic, experts' assessments and qualitative backgrounds;

reporting on the success of law enforcement agencies in exposing crimes, where there is no balance of opinions (in particular, the absence of the defense of suspects / the accused), the standard of accuracy is violated (in particular, the suspects are called "lawbreakers", "criminals", etc.);

materials covering business (brands, products, services) or charity of specific businessmen, businesses or charity funds established by them in an unbalanced way and with positive assessments. At the same time, let us remember that references to commercial companies and brands are not signs of advertising if they are motivated, and the hushing-up of specific names of companies and brands in the titles and text of a material is a violation of the standards of accuracy and completeness of information.

This type of monitoring assesses violations of standards taken together, that is, when violations of different standards give a single effect.

3.3. Informal signs of order

In addition to recording a set of specific violations of the standards of information journalism in a particular material, the "Detector Media" monitoring also takes into account some other factors that may indicate the nonrandom appearance of these violations in the material that are beneficial to a particular person:

Is the topic of a material of public importance and relevant to the time of its publication?

The social importance of the topic is determined by the following factors: the topic directly or indirectly relates to large social groups. Publicizing this topic in the media may have a very pragmatic value for these groups of people for their daily decisions (any issues related to daily revenues, savings and expenses of families, personal safety of citizens, housing and communal services; health, social services, education, leisure, etc.). It may have an electoral value (informing about the actual actions of various political forces or their individual representatives on government positions - at the same time, the selection of these forces based on reliable sociological research is important). It is non-pragmatic but of great public interest and is important for a full-fledged awareness of society (culture, sport).

Who owns the media? (If it is documented publicly or at least by public statements on this topic by the owners themselves.)

What political force or politician / official / businessman has influence on him? (If there are facts, available publicly, that confirm this influence, or such influence is reported by authoritative newsmakers or experts.)

Is self-promotion or distortion of information in this way beneficial to a person or political force that has an impact on the media? Is it profitable for a politician, a government official, or a businessman who appears in the material, or his competitors to encourage journalists to violate standards precisely in this way?

If the material is "parquet" or praises politicians or businessmen: is this format typical for this media?

Is there a tendency in this media to distort information in this way (in this combination and with this kind of violations of specific standards)?

Is the coverage of this politician / official in this format a trend (based on the reporting period and the monitoring of previous periods)?

Is there a tendency not to give the floor to a particular party to the conflict or a particular person on this channel (based on the reporting period and the monitoring of previous periods)?

Did materials of identical or similar content come out in other media? (Especially in the media of the media group to which this media belongs.)

Is it profitable for the company or brand that appears in a material to pay for this message as hidden advertising (or for competitors - as anti-advertising)?

Is the author of the message named, is the material anonymous? Is this a real person's name, or a pseudonym? If this is the television or radio news, is the text voiced by the author, or by another person?

If one or more of the standards of information journalism is violated in the material and the answer to one or more of the questions specified in this section indicates that the material may be ordered, the “Detector Media” experts consider it appropriate to call this material as that showing signs of order (censorship).

4. Determination of the tonality of materials showing signs of order (censorship)

These monitoring reports determine in respect of whom / what the material with signs of order (censorship) is positive or negative. And it can be:

a political force (party, movement)

a government agency,

the power in general of different levels,

the opposition in general

a politician or official

a non-governmental organization or a specific representative of the public,

a non-state institution, firm, company, etc.,

a businessman,

a certain action (e.g., economic blockade of ORDLO), idea (for example, Ukraine's accession to NATO), intention or plan. Each such action, idea, intention or plan necessarily have its supporters and opponents, its arguments for and against; something of this full set may not be in a journalistic material.

In order to minimize the subjectivity of assessments by the “Detector Media” experts, the grounds for determining tonality are the nature and mode of violations of the basic standards of information journalism in a material.

Balance of opinions standard: when the floor in a material is given only to a particular party to the conflict - accordingly, such a violation is positive for this side of the conflict, and in case it accuses the other party to the conflict, it is negative to the party not expressing the answer in the material.

The standard of separating facts from opinions: is determined by the use of journalistic estimations of a positive or negative nature in relation to someone / something.

The standard of accuracy of information: when a material contains distorted, false facts, distortion which is advantageous to a particular party to the conflict (because it confirms its arguments) or unfavorable to another (because it refutes its arguments). Similarly, it is inaccurate quoting of someone's subjective opinion (incomplete, taken out of context, etc.).

The reliability standard: indistinct, generalized references to the sources of important facts, and even more so to the authorship of subjective opinions.

Standard of completeness of information: the hushing-up of important facts or backgrounds that can confirm or refute certain statements of the heroes of a material.

5. Determination of the hushing-up by the news of socially important topics

These monitoring reports record how much complete the information picture of the day presented to its audience by each final newscast is. They record the hushing-up by the TV and radio news of those topics, separate facts or opinions, which constitute an unconditional information value for a thorough awareness of the audience about the socio-political processes that take place every day in Ukraine. Of those topics, facts or opinions that can directly affect the interests of large social groups, both pragmatically, and electorally. These topics are determined, firstly, by comparing the topics presented by all TV channels whose news is being researched in a specific monitoring (one channel has presented, others have not). Secondly, by comparing to the topics covered by UNIAN news agency on the same day.

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Andrey U. Chulkov
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