Having lived and worked in Ukraine for over 23 years, I’ve seen my fair share of aggressive competition tactics in the media business. Some were incredibly smart, fun, and most importantly had a clear objective to push the other side to get better and move the industry and economy forward.
But when healthy competition turns to outright vicious black PR smear campaigns that are meant to divide us in a time that we should be putting our differences aside and be united for the good of Ukraine, we have to call it for what it is – disinformation and Cyberbullying!
I was made aware a few weeks ago that a certain group was preparing to unleash a coordinated campaign to discredit Kyiv Post and all the hard work that we have put in during this last year. A campaign not aimed directly at specific people, but the Kyiv Post brand by employing third party agitators to convince the public that Kyiv Post is somehow censoring journalists, misinforming readers, and worst of all implicitly that we are somehow Russian agents! This could not be further from the truth and is downright hurtful even to be considered in this way - especially if you know my history, support and love for Ukraine.
Kyiv Post has worked incredibly hard to rebuild trust with its readers following a change in management and editorial team which was well documented at the end of 2021. We have consciously refrained from engaging in recriminations and polemics with our detractors, even though we would have plenty to say to set the record straight, providing chapter and verse. Instead, we have preferred to get on with our work and mission and to let our readers judge for themselves what we stand for.
What’s water under the bridge should not be the force that moves us forward
During the last year we have rebuilt and revamped Kyiv Post, bringing in a dynamic new team and authoritative contributors, broadened our scope and refined our focus and tone. We are confident that we represent Ukraine’s best interests as its global voice, adding quality, depth, insight, context and balance to coverage of Ukraine-related issues at a critical time when the country needs most to be known, understood and supported.
Moreover, our new look includes an additional new Ukrainian version of Kyiv Post to better engage the Ukrainian population within Ukraine, those who have been forced to move abroad, as well as speaking to the global Diaspora. We are proud of this offer and its potential, and we will continue to innovate with new offerings to be released in 2023.
In addition, we have introduced a daily Arabic language version in order to counter the aggressive and well-funded Russian propaganda in the Middle East. This added language has been welcomed in a region where Ukraine has previously not had a true voice.
The war with Russia has pushed our talented and brave journalists to report from the front lines and across Ukraine. They have continued to work despite non-stop, bombings, power outages, death threats and repeated cyberattacks to our site and servers. The list goes on but Kyiv Post moves forward with more determination than ever!
There has been speculation that this smear campaign might be Russian-instigated to discredit us and our ground-breaking work, which is valued by our readers (more that 85 percent of whom are outside Ukraine). Who else would want to prevent us from delivering exclusive content from world leaders, opinion makers, respected journalists, and now also strengthened by a newly added investigative team?
Why do we suspect a Russian trail?
To put it simply, the unsophisticated English grammar, accusations levelled at our ‘American journalists from America’ (we have one journalist from the U.S. in a team of 40 people who most comprise of talented and dedicated Ukrainians at Kyiv Post), and the cowardly use of hiding behind fake accounts rather than facing us directly and engaging in a constructive and facts-based conversation.
It’s interesting to point out that its modus operandi is suspicious as it resembles very much what was used in the U.S. during the past two elections or in Great Britain during Brexit to sow division, anger, and confusion to the general public so we would turn on ourselves.
I have news for you. This will not happen! Why? Because Kyiv Post readers, Ukrainians, and the world are far too sophisticated to fall for such juvenile and obviously fabricated content meant to divide us.
This is a very sensitive time during which, irrespective of our differences-"Tearing each other down is exactly what our enemies would love to see happen".To divide and conquer, but at what cost to us?
For Ukrainians to turn against one another in these hard times to win some rather meaningless rivalry or grudge is beyond me – preferring this rather than supporting Ukraine as a whole and burying some imaginary hatchet. Or, at the very least respecting one other and understanding that, by doing this, we are effectively doing more harm to the image and rebuilding of Ukraine.
"Now is the time to focus on reporting and doing the best work of our lives! "It’s a time to put our collective ‘foot on the pedal’ in order to get as much information and awareness out there to help Ukraine cross the finish line.
Words are nice, but actions always speak louder.
Firstly, I have ordered a special team to investigate exactly where these reputational attacks are truly coming from and to expose who the perpetrators are.
Secondly, we are here to help and not to divide. I will therefore soon be announcing the launch of a special fund to help promising freelance journalists who have little to no financial support and who might need a workspace in order to get their articles out whether they choose to publish in Kyiv Post or in a competing publication. I hope that you will help me in supporting such journalists. I will kick this fundraiser off by making an initial donation of $5,000.
Please join me and Kyiv Post in raising the support and help needed (donating) for talented journalists to develop professionally and for them to be better able to report about what is happening in Ukraine to the world.
I thank you all as readers and supporters of Kyiv Post and as well to the supporters of other Ukrainian media outlets in helping us to stand up and not fall victim to such obvious divisive tactics. We are better than this, we are greater than this.
United we stand. Divided we fall.
Slava Ukraini! Heroyam Slava!
And a very happy “Old” New Year to those celebrating traditionally around the world in accordance with the Julian Calendar!