LifeNews, a Russian tabloid, serving as one of the key propaganda news resources in Russian, utilizes social media to disseminate manipulations and fabrications covering Ukrainian events. The sophisticated work of the newsroom anticipates the active use of Twitter and YouTube.
On May 18, 2014, Ukrainian military seized in Donetsk region two Russians who claimed to be journalists of LifeNews. Ukrainian law enforcement agencies accused Russians of “cooperation with terrorists”, fighting against Ukrainian army near Sloviansk.
In response, LifeNews launched the campaign calling to “save our guys”. Only in Twitter up to 70,000 tweets have been published with hashtag #saveourguys. Russians also appealed to UN and OSCE demanding to free their “journalists.” Ukrainians published evidences of close cooperation between LifeNews representatives and terrorists.
Meanwhile LifeNews continues to manipulate – the recent false they circulated was the news about “killed child” during the anti-terrorist operation in Donetsk airport on May 27. The photo taken to illustrate the “cruelty” of Ukrainian army against civilians, in fact, was a photo from Syria.
Note: LifeNews.ru was launched in 2009 as a yellow news site and since then it became one of the main news source for the Russian audience. Since its launch, the site started paying fees for video footage from witnesses. In 2013, a news TV channels was set based on the Lifenews site. It has journalists in 20 Russian cities.
Alongside the work of professional journalists, the events in Ukraine showed a huge involvement of Internet users and media activists in reporting on the developments in the protests and the conflict with Russia. With the help of modern technologies, such as Twitter, Facebook, Ustream and YouTube, users provided evidence, shared impressions, helped in news gathering and distribution, coordinated efforts, and mobilized supporters for these causes. Social media became a hub for hundreds of grassroots initiatives that mobilized hundreds of thousands of active citizens across Ukraine and worldwide, interested in the Ukrainian events. The scale of such media activism could not be ignored by professional news organizations, and step-by-step they were accepting social media as a source in newsgathering.
The rise of social media use regarding the events in Ukraine showed remarkable numbers. Twitter, an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read short, 140-character text messages called “tweets”, was the fastest way to learn news about the recent events in Ukraine. In the period of February 10-March 12, 2014, 3,785,648 tweets with the hashtag #ukraine were written by users of Twitter. With the outbreak of the Crimean crisis, the interest in Ukraine on Twitter was comparable to the interest in the 86th Academy Awards ceremony. Continue reading
Anastasiya Dmytruk, a Ukrainian poet, wrote a poetry in which she emotionally explained why Ukrainians will never treat Russians as “brothers” after Crimea invasion. The notion of “Slavic brotherhood” has been of the strongest myths in among Russians who claimed the unity among Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
The original poetry was published in YouTube on March 19 and since then it received 1,712,000 views (as of May 20, 2014). Another version with a song performed by Lithuanian singers Virgis Pupšys,Jaronimas Milius,Kęstutis Nevulis,Gintautas Litinskas got 2,278 million views.
Russian users were outraged since the poetry affected their nationalistic feelings. Dozens of replies were published in YouTube, but none of them did not get more views as original one.
Anastasiya Dmytruk has recently published a book of poetries. Find her updates in Facebook – siadmytruk
On May 30, 2014, at Emerson College, Boston, I have defended my thesis titled Agenda setting in newsgathering during anti-government protests 2013-2014 in Ukraine. The impact of social media on news organizations. Chair – Prof. Melinda Robins, Ph.D., Graduate Program Director of Journalism Department at Emerson College.
I plan to publish it on this blog soon, now, please find the abstract:
Following the Orange revolution in 2004, popular protests of Ukrainian citizens in 2013-2014 for the second time in the last ten years altered the political regime in the country. In the battle against the corrupt government, protesters have demonstrated a sophisticated use of the Internet and social media tools in news dissemination and mobilization of activism. This study investigates another dimension of the protests – the media effects of social media on news organizations within the framework of agenda setting theory. How user-generated content influenced media coverage of the protests by professional news sites and which issues have been perceived as important for public awareness. Based on a case study of one of the leading news sites and a popular Facebook page initiative, I research the agenda setting on the mainstream media.
With Dr.Emmanuel Paraschos, Ph.D. and Prof. Melinda Robins, Ph.D., Graduate Program Director