Monitors say ‘jeansa’ permeates new outlets
ly marked paid advertising, but accept $50,000 for a month of “regular mentioning of your politician,” Bidenko explained.
But sometimes journalists just do the government’s bidding for free.
Ligachova said pro-government politicians can order “jeansa” without paying for it. “We have authorities that may just force TV channels to give PR disguised as news stories,” she said. “We have a monopoly of those in power who have the means to pressure media owners.”
But politicians’ preference for “jeansa” can also backfire, since such stories are easily recognized by the audience, leading to a loss of credibility and trust.
Media expert Siumar explained the “jeansa” phenomenon by the absence of a developed media business in Ukraine. Consequently, media outlets – most of which are owned by one of five billionaires – serve merely as “instruments of influence and agreements for their owners.”
The PR specialist who spoke to the Kyiv Post on condition of anonymity said politicians often don’t believe journalists can be independent. “So when some critical story appears in the media about some politician, he would call directly to the media owner and ask: ‘ Why are you after me?’”
Meanwhile, there are always some journalists, like former STB journalist Sokolenko, who refuse to participate in paid-for stories for ethical reasons. Sokolenko is currently working on a project to bring Ukraine its first public TV channel.
Siumar said she worries the young generation of would-be journalists accept “jeansa” as the norm. “They see that it is everywhere and believe there’s nothing wrong with it,” she said.
(Editor’s Note: The Kyiv Post has a strict policy against “jeansa,” adheres to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics and works to clearly separate paid advertisements from editorially independent news and opinions.)