In our series on how people view and consume media, find out how Yulia in Ukraine trusts information from her friends more than the media and why she longs for better community news.
Yulia Melnyk is an eco-activist. An engineer by training, she now runs an NGO that provides energy saving consultation services. She has also worked as a professional photographer and believes her young daughter Mariyka is the best model. In the future, Yulia plans to get a master's degree in ecology. She was born in Rivne, in western Ukraine, but now lives in the mid-sized city of Poltava, about 350km southwest of the capital, Kiev. Most of Yulia's activities are connected to the city.
I think it is important to know what happens around me, in my city, my neighborhood. I browse all the local online news sites and read "Kolo", a regional news site. I don't buy any newspapers but my parents are "Kolo" subscribers so I read it when I visit them. Among the large national media, I read the "Life" section of "Ukrayinska Pravda", an online news site, but I've lost my trust in their news. Besides these, I listen to several radio stations and really enjoy them, especially when they broadcast feature stories.
My favorite website is National Geographic. I used to buy the magazine until they closed the Ukrainian office due to financial problems in 2014. I also read a bunch of blogs by famous photographers. Another important source for me is specialized sites for NGO activists that I check and also subscribe to their newsletters. I also read websites on ecology and I like to read about psychology and people's behavior.
I rarely open any websites in a direct way. I use my Facebook feed as a filter. When I see an interesting headline then I go to the website. Or when something is widely discussed on Facebook, I google the topic and try find more information on the subject.
I spend about four hours a day using media. You see, I am always online and scroll my Facebook feed from time to time. When I see something worth looking at, I just go straight to it. One day I can spend more time reading, another day, I'll spend less. For instance, I do not use any media when traveling and this is a part of my regular lifestyle these days. I use media in Russian, Ukrainian and English.
The media are very important to me. I have to understand what is most important in terms of energy saving as community support. That's is a big thing for my NGO but it's also important for my personal development.
I try to follow all the legal initiatives on ecological issues, community attitudes and worldwide events. But I have completely lost interest in political news. Politics as a show is not for me at all.
I trust people, not the media. When I read my Facebook feed and see some feedback from my friends or people I know on the events they were involved in, these are the things I trust. I also trust facts, and if I need to get them I just go to the biggest news agencies' websites and read when, where and what happened.
There is no state-sponsored censorship in Ukraine, but the majority of media outlets have private owners and publish or broadcast their individual positions. They may not lie directly about certain things but some topics are hushed up or presented in an unbalanced way.
I think what the media are lacking now is money and creative management. We really need deeper investigative stories and good analysis. But most media outlets have little money and not enough people working for them. Because of this, many journalists don't even check information because they have too many assignments. The world is complicated, and we need the media to help us understand what is happening. And this is rather costly.
But the media have to understand that they really are opinion-makers. They have a responsibility to society.
So the sustainability of good media, or, in our case, creating them and then sustaining them is the most challenging thing. And here is where community media can start playing a major part. Their challenge is to work in such a way so that people want to support them financially. I would do that.