Kyiv Post owner Adnan Kivan sat down to set the record straight about his decision to take the newspaper in a new strategic direction.
Kyiv Post: There’s been plenty of speculation as to what led to your decision to make what appeared to be sudden changes at the Kyiv Post – everything from rumors of political pressure to office politics, to wanting to re-launch as a multilingual news organization. In your own words, can you tell us what really happened?
Adnan Kivan: “I informed our former Chief Editor, Brian Bonner, that it was time to finally make the Kyiv Post bigger and better, and that we could no longer delay this business decision. One of the key strategic growth plans was to expand our reach to other languages such as Ukrainian, Russian, German, French, and Arabic. We discussed how we would implement this growth, and I gave my assurance that it would be funded properly in order to meet our expansion goals.
I suggested a candidate who I respected very much and who had the same principles [as the Kyiv Post], someone who worked at Channel 7 when it was launched during the Revolution of Dignity. She had what I considered to be great experience as well as video broadcasting knowledge, which we had made a key priority for delivering more video content from our newly built Kyiv Post TV studio under our digital expansion plans.
Brian Bonner informed me this would work and that he was on board with the plan. He returned weeks later to my office in Odesa for a status meeting and to meet with our candidate [Olena Rotari, former Editor of Odesa Channel 7 News]. Within minutes of meeting her, Brian informed her directly that she was not needed, and this left me not only surprised that she was not given a proper chance, but even more so feeling that my or anyone else’s opinion did not seem to even be considered.”
Kyiv Post: Some former staff have framed the move as an attack on their editorial integrity. How would you respond to that allegation?
Adnan Kivan: “Justice and democracy” – these are the main principles to which I live by. Also, “Silence is absolutely not golden”. My words were twisted to serve other people’s agendas and it was not what I meant at all. Coverage must be fair, balanced, and must give the readers the facts so they can make their own decision as to what they wish to take away from the information they have received from the story. We cannot sensationalise a story and mix personal opinions with news reporting. Stories must be written based on evidence and free of personal opinions or attacks. If you have an opinion, then please go ahead and write an Op-Ed… but please don’t mix the two together and call it journalism. That said, the Kyiv Post always has been – and will continue to be – able to write on exposing injustice in Ukraine no matter who the person or organisations are. Even if that means the President of Ukraine. No one is above the law!
I’ve owned the Kyiv Post now for 4 years and as Brian Bonner stated himself in his last interview with the CJR [Columbia Journalism Review],
Channel 7 employs more than 120 journalists that are against corruption, dictators, totalitarians. The Odesa mafia has shot at Channel 7 reporters and threatened many people for their reporting. I’ve had dozens of family members killed fighting for democracy in Syria. I don’t need to be lectured on democracy and free speech – I’m ready to die at this moment for my principles.
This is my duty under God – to support the freedom of speech. This is why I am helping to finance [Kyiv Post] – because we are Ukraine’s Global Voice and this means reporting for justice.”
Kyiv Post: What is your vision for the Kyiv Post? How would you like to see the newspaper move forward?
Adnan Kivan: “I want the Kyiv Post to become much bigger in terms of coverage and to reach its full potential. I want us to stand for justice and democracy and to truly mean it when we deliver news, insights, and opinions to people within Ukraine and around the world.
If we are to be Ukraine’s Global Voice, reporting on justice and truth, then why should we only publish in the English language? We need to reach as many people as possible and deliver news, insights, and opinions in their native languages as well! Remember that 75% of Kyiv Post’s readers are outside of Ukraine (Washington, New York, Toronto, London and across Europe).
While our audience is smaller than Ukrayinska Pravda, for example, I believe that we can grow and expand our news to more people by adding languages such as Ukrainian, Russian, French, Arabic, German, etc.
I believe strongly that I must spend part of my wealth to support freedom of speech and to support Ukraine.”
Kyiv Post: Is the restructuring process going as planned?
Adnan Kivan: “I’m very happy with what I am seeing, despite all the challenges. I see that all will be okay as the support for the Kyiv Post is simply inspiring!
I told Luc [Chenier, CEO of Kyiv Post] that he has the autonomy to hire the best professionals from all over the world and within Ukraine, of course! This means finding and appointing a high-quality Editor-in-Chief to lead the newsroom. I made it clear that he is the CEO and he will decide what is best for Kyiv Post’s growth plans. I trust him very much and respect his vision for the future growth and protection of journalistic standards that Kyiv Post must live by. As a Canadian who has lived in Ukraine for more than 20 years, he understands the importance of seeing to the Kyiv Post’s success and to continue its rich tradition of solid journalism for a very bright future.
Justice, democracy, freedom of speech, and supporting the voice of truth – these remain the values of Kyiv Post. Media resources around the world need support right now more than ever – especially with the situation we find ourselves in with Russia. Ukrainian news channels need to be protected at all costs and most importantly remain independent!
Everything depends on us to continue in the right direction and I plan to do my part to help create a better future.
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