KYIV, UKRAINE – The USAID/Internews annual survey into media consumption habits in Ukraine reveals some major changes in Ukrainian citizens’ media consumption habits since Russia’s escalated invasion in February 2022. Face-to-face interviews and focus groups were carried out between July and September this year.
This year social media and online news sites were still the most popular ways for Ukrainians to get the news, but respondents reported that they are using more sources of information than before in order to get reliable and accurate information about the war. Internally displaced people (IDPs) had an even higher reliance on digital media because they primarily depend on their smartphones and have less access to television. Television use for news has dropped from 85% in 2015 when USAID/Internews first started carrying out this survey to just 36% in 2022. Now, 74% of Ukrainians get their news from social networks.
This year the survey carried out focus groups with Ukraine’s IDPs and people living in rural communities and interviewed people living in temporarily occupied parts of the country. People living in rural communities said that the reputation of the source was particularly important to them and that, for this reason, they prefer Ukraine’s public nationwide TV channel UA:Pershyi during the war. In general, UA:Pershyi TV doubled in terms of recognition by Ukrainian citizens this year – up to 8% compared to 4% last year.
The United News Telethon is viewed by 96% of Ukrainians who use TV to get their news and enjoyed a high level of trust amongst most respondents – 84% somewhat or fully trust it. Respondents who liked it said they found it emotionally pleasant to watch and less toxic than other sources. However, an exception was the group represented by IDPs, who found it excessively optimistic and not sufficiently representative of their experience. Inhabitants of temporarily occupied territories said that even if they were able to watch Ukrainian TV, they tended not to watch it because it was too dangerous to do so, as citizens are targeted by occupiers for consumption of Ukrainian news.
This year also saw a marked increase in the popularity of regional media: regional online news sites were up from 27% last year to 55% this year, local television use nearly doubled from 27% in 2021 to 44% in 2022, and local radio and newspapers also saw a significant increase in use. IDPs said they still like to consume local news from the community where they are from.
Telegram saw a massive increase in usership: last year 20% of Ukrainians said they used it to read the news compared to 60% this year.
Citizens say they trust media more this year, with increased trust shown for online media and television at the national and local level. Respondents expressed high trust in friends (81%) and family (86%) as sources of information, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine/Ministry of Defense (79%), and the Office of the President (73%). Only 40% of respondents said they trusted information from the church.
“It’s natural in a time of war that citizens would depend more on their trusted sources of information, and it’s good to see an increased reliance on Suspilne, as well as local media this year. Media are providing lifesaving information and working in incredibly difficult conditions,” Internews Country Director Gillian McCormack said during the presentation of the findings.
As last year, 83% of Ukrainians are aware about the existence of disinformation. Internews worked with media watchdogs and media literacy partners, the Institute of Mass Information, Detector Media, and Internews Ukraine to devise a short test examining respondents’ ability to tell true stories from false ones. Citizens showed good test results – 14% of respondents correctly identified all three texts, 72% correctly identified one or more (63% in 2021 and 48% in 2020). A large majority of respondents (76%) recognized the first test story as disinformation.
This year, there was also a significant improvement in people’s assessment of prevalent disinformation narratives as false. In particular the credibility of anti-Ukrainian disinformation narratives has declined in the eyes of Ukrainians, who are much less likely than in previous years to believe statements that reduce Ukraine’s authority and agency in deciding its own fate. For example, in 2021 56% of respondents believed the false narrative they had heard that the United States is using Ukraine as a tool in its own conflict with Russia. In 2022, the number of people believing a similar trope had reduced to 20%.
Finally, good news for media outlets launching membership and subscription services – despite the war, 23% of respondents said they are ready to pay for access to their favorite digital media, up from 20% last year.
The 2022 USAID/Internews Media Consumption Survey was conducted by InMind at the request of Internews, an international media development organization that is implementing the Media Program in Ukraine with financial support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The survey’s main objectives are to define Ukrainians’ media habits and measure their trust in media, media literacy, and awareness of Ukraine’s reforms process. InMind representatives interviewed 4,000 people across 12 regions between July and September 2022. The sampling error is no greater than 2.5 percent.
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About Internews in Ukraine
Internews is an international non-profit media development organization with administrative centers in California, Washington D.C., Paris, and London. Our mission is to empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, the ability to connect, and the means to make their voices heard.
Since 1993, Internews has worked in Ukraine with journalists, civil society activists, public officials and citizens to improve the quality and impact of a vibrant, independent news media. Internews is committed to helping develop skills and leadership in Ukrainian media through technical assistance backed by financial support from international donor organizations.
This survey is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of Internews and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.