Defended: Master’s thesis about the role of social media during the protests in Ukraine

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. 

defended

With Dr.Emmanuel Paraschos, Ph.D. and Prof. Melinda Robins, Ph.D., Graduate Program Director

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45 headlines of The New York Times featured Ukraine in last three months

While working on my research on agenda setting effects in Ukraine, I have collected The New York Times headlines featuring Ukraine during last three months. Through the analysis of The New York Times e-newsletter, sent to the readers on the daily basis, I have found that 45 headlines had appeared in Top News on the site of The New York Times. The period analyzed – January 25-April 24, 2014. The list includes the following headlines:

January 26 – Opposition Says No to Ukraine on Power Share

February 6 – Ukraine Chief Loses Support in Stronghold

February 7 – Russia Claims U.S. Meddling Over Ukraine

February 20 – Ukraine Leader Strains for Grip as Chaos Spreads

February 21 – Ukraine’s Forces Escalate Attacks Against Protesters

February 22 – Ukraine Has Deal, but Both Russia and Protesters Appear Wary

February 23 – Archrival Is Freed as Ukraine Leader Flees

February 24 – Ukraine Rushes to Shift Power and Mend Rifts

February 25 – Wary Stance From Obama on Ukraine

February 28 – Grab for Power in Crimea Raises Secession Threat

March 1 – With Military Moves Seen in Ukraine, Obama Warns Russia

March 2 – Kremlin Deploys Military in Ukraine, Prompting Protest by U.S.

March 2 – Making Russia Pay? It’s Not So Simple

March 5 – Putin, Flashing Disdain, Defends Action in Crimea

March 5 – No Easy Way Out of Ukraine Crisis

March 6 – U.S. Hopes Boom in Natural Gas Can Curb Putin

March 7 – Crimea Approves a Secession Vote as Tensions Rise

March 8 – For First Time, Kremlin Signals It Is Prepared to Annex Crimea

March 11 – Titans in Russia Fear New Front in Ukraine Crisis

March 14 – Russian Troops Mass at Border With Ukraine

March 15 – U.S.-Russia Talks on Ukraine Fail to Ease Tension

March 16 – Russia Seizes Gas Plant Near Crimea Border, Ukraine Says

March 17 – Obama’s Policy Is Put to the Test as Crises Challenge Caution

March 18 – Putin Recognizes Crimea Secession, Defying the West

March 19 – Putin Reclaims Crimea for Russia and Bitterly Denounces the West

March 19 – If Not a Cold War, a Return to a Chilly Rivalry

March 21 – Obama Steps Up Russia Sanctions in Ukraine Crisis

March 22 – Russia’s Shifting of Border Force Stirs U.S. Worry

March 22 – As Sanctions Start, Russia Feels a Sting

March 24 – 3 Presidents and a Riddle Named Putin

March 25 – Russia Is Ousted From Group of 8 by U.S. and Allies

March 27 – Obama Renewing U.S. Commitment to NATO Alliance

March 29 – Putin Calls Obama to Discuss Ukraine, White House Says

April 8 – In East Ukraine, Protesters Seek Russian Troops

April 14 – Ukraine Forces Storm a Town, Defying Russia

April 15 – Ukraine Falters in Drive to Curb Unrest in East

April 16 – Russia Is Quick to Bend Truth About Ukraine

April 16 – Ukraine Sends Force to Stem Unrest in East

April 17 – Russia Economy Worsens Even Before Sanctions Hit

April 18 – Deal is Reached to Ease Tension in East Ukraine

April 19 – Pro-Russian Insurgents Balk at Terms of Pact in Ukraine

April 20 – In Cold War Echo, Obama Strategy Writes Off Putin

April 21 – Photos Link Masked Men in East Ukraine to Russia

April 22 – Under Russia, Life in Crimea Grows Chaotic

April 22 – New Prowess for Russians

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Online discussions mocked Russian media and separatists in Ukraine

On Easter’s night, April 20,  a group of armed individuals attacked a barricade with separatists in Slovyansk, a  city in Donetsk region. One separatist was killed during arm fire, three – wounded. In the morning separatists announced that attackers were those who came from Kiev and Western regions of Ukraine. Separatists claimed they had found o $100 banknotes,  NATO fire guns and a business card of Dmytro Yarosh, a leader  of Pravyi Sector, organization, the name of which is the main argument for Russian media in their propaganda. One of the Russian TV stations reported with accusations for Pravyi Sector, demonstrating the business card. The accusations are one of the techniques of propaganda explored by Russian TV. BBC Russian analyzed those methods of manipulation.

Internet users in Ukraine have immediately reacted to the bias of Russian propaganda machine and started mocking separatists and Russian media publishing in social media messages with hashtag #ВизиткаЯроша. The messages ironized that  Yarosh’s business card caused the Titanic catastrophe, it was used during the Moon space mission or it was an attribute of many great painters.

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Users have started publishing business cards and disseminating them offline.  Data by Topsy shows (bellow), almost 50,000 tweets were published during two days. Articles about the situation were published across media in different countries, including Australia.

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Framing protests in Ukraine – viral video “I am Ukrainian”

Yulia Marushevska, a student from Kyiv, who participated in anti-governmental protests in Ukraine, became famous in the West due to the one video, posted in YouTube. Marushevka appeals to the world, explaining why Ukrainians were fighting against government. The video came viral – it got 7,990,000 views as far as April 5, 2014. Now Yulia is on tour in Canada and the States. She was invited by TV channels, city councils, think tanks and universities to talk about Ukraine and the protests. On April 8, Yulia gives a presentation at Stanford University. On April 13-15 she is visiting Boston.

The effects of viral video “I am Ukrainian” appeals ideally to the Western audience since it demonstrates personalization of the protests in Ukraine.  Yulia stands as an ideal hero – she is a protester, she is young and passionate, she speaks simply and sincerely and  the language she talks is English. She is a direct victim of the drama, also her family members participated in protests. She symbolizes a new generation of Ukrainians – she is English-speaking, devoted to the civic values and is in the list of young professionals.

At the same time, some authors mention the controversy of the video.. Yulia as a hero is too perfect to be real. Her message shows the developments in Ukraine in black and white, silencing the violence from protesters.

A discussion at Stanford University

A discussion at Stanford University

Another video, filmed by Ben Moses, posted by a user “Yulia Marushevska”, dated Dec 06, 2013, explains more about the protests in Ukraine. The caption states:

Finding myself in the epicenter of the protests – often referred to here as a revolution – I decided to interview some of the people in the streets. There is one factual error: the heavy outpouring of people into the streets occurred over several days after the beatings, not immediately the next day.

Discussions on viral video with Yulia Marushevska:

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-26272546

http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/i-am-a-ukrainian-video-goes-viral-in-bid-to-shine-light-on-protests-1.1695425

http://video.dailyheraldtribune.com/search/all/source/calgary-sun/i-am-ukrainian-star-yulia-marushevska-on-sun-news/3414241159001

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Russian propaganda targets Russian-speaking population of Ukraine

Russian informational agency ITAR-TASS, one of the oldest in the world, has turned to be a propaganda machine of the Russian government. During the Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, ITAR-TASS disseminates false news, in particular, the one, that Ukrainian government ordered to delete Russian-language pages of official sites in Ukraine. Those so called news are absurd and are not proved by any sources.

Recently, Ukrainian journalists have launched at least two sites that analyze fake news and false from Russian media – stopfake.org and fakecontrol.org. Nevertheless, Russian media continue to lead informational war against Ukraine by means of all government-controlled media by disseminating false and propaganda. It worths to admit, there are many balanced news from independent Russian Internet sites, in particular: www.novayagazeta.ruwww.vedomosti.ruwww.themoscowtimes.comwww.gazeta.ru

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Ukraine and Venezuela – United by Human Rights

A joint rally by Ukrainian and Venezuelan communities living in Boston was organized on March 2nd. 2014. The protesters called Russia to withdraw their military from Crimea and stop Venezuelan government to attack citizens demanding freedom and human rights in Venezuela.

About 80 participants came on Sunday in front of  the monument of Samuel Adams, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. In their speeches Ukrainians and Venezuelans supported the people of two countries by encouraging them to fight for their independence and human rights.

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Russian aggression against Ukraine. Ukrainians ready to fight

On March 1, 2014 Russia has started a military operation against Ukraine by sending troops to Crimea. Seen as an act of aggression of Russia against independent Ukraine, the international community reacted immediately – Western governments urged Russia to withdraw its troops from the peninsula. On the eve of the conflict Obama warned Russia to avoid military conflict but Putin ignored the White House.

The diplomatic pressure on Russia has been exercised by dozens of governments – the UK called his ambassador back from Moscow, the United Stated and EU called for economical sanctions against Russia. Also all G-7 states cancelled the Group of Eight meeting to be held in Sochi, they also plan to expel Russia from the G-8.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian government chose a tactic of peace – not to provoke the development of force scenario and requested an assistance within international community. Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea were confronted by Russian military who used power to seize military bases.

Ukrainian soldiers (top) defend their military unit being confronted by Russian armed soldiers (bottom)

Ukrainian soldiers (top) defend their military unit being confronted by Russian armed soldiers (bottom) in Crimea. March 2, 2014

The US diplomats admit that Ukrainians are ready to fight and defend their country. The Ambassador Taylor wrote in the Washington Post:

The Ukrainians will fight. For the past few days, the Russian military has attempted to provoke the Ukrainians into making the mistake the Georgians made in 2008: shooting first. First, Russia sent unmarked troops off their base in Sevastopol; the Ukrainians did not take the bait. Next, the Russians sent armored units up the road to Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, but still the Ukrainians did not respond with violence. Then these unmarked troops took over airfields and administration buildings around Crimea, effectively occupying the peninsula. The Ukrainians put their military forces on high alert and called up their military reserves — but have not attacked. This restraint is wise but agonizing. If the Russians attack Ukrainian forces in Crimea or eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian military will respond, and the war would be terrible.

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