Ukrainian journalists visit USA

December 14, 2014

Palatine welcomes Open World Journalism delegates: December 5-13, 2014.

What is happening in Ukraine? That’s a complicated question with many layers of answers. In a country torn by war and coalitions and the media injected with political propaganda, it is hard to tell who is telling the truth. Even the journalists whose job description includes seeking and reporting the truth can’t always separate exaggeration and facts, public relations campaigns and personal biases. After all we are all human and emotional beings and this skill takes practice.

It is refreshing to see the U.S. government allocating grants for educational programs. They sponsor educational and professional exchange programs for professionals from many parts of the world to come to USA and meet with their colleagues. This time the U.S. Library of Congress through Open World selected the program for journalists  created and managed by ICEA, a small non-profit in Palatine. The program included 5 journalists from Ukraine who hold leadership positions in the Ukrainian journalism world.

The Open World delegates were:

Kristina Berdynskykh, Reporter, “Novoye Vremya (New Time) Magazine

Oleksandr Akymenko, Head of the Board, Platform of Ideas

Tetyana Kozak, Journalist, “New Time of the Country”

Oleksandr Ryabtsev, Private Entrepreneur

Oleksandr Pavlenko, Head of Organization, NGO “Shag Vpered” (Step Forward)

Nominated by the U.S. Embassy in Kiev to participate in this program, they came from Kiev but are originally from different parts of Ukraine. They migrated to the Capitol during the events on Maidan. Kristina Berdynskyh published a historical book about people who fought and died on Maidan. Oleksandr Akymenko  unveiled original documents showing corruption and greed by the former president. Tatyana Kozak is from Crimea but now lives and works in Kiev writing for an online publication “New Time of the Country”.  They stayed in a small Chicago land town Palatine for one week and had a completely booked schedule with daily meetings and tours.

The journalists had meetings with representatives of many local media organizations including The Associated Press, where the importance of fact checking was clearly emphasized. The group also met with their colleagues at the Daily Herald. The newspaper published an article about their visit. Alexander Akymenko, director of project, talked about his work of recovering documents from the former Ukrainian president and reinventing Ukraine with new ideas, philanthropy and honesty.

“What they found was proof of “extreme corruption” and Yanukovych’s lavish living, Akymenko said. The find, of course, inspired stories, but also a public archive — — where the journalists posted the scanned documents online for anybody to read.”

“Robert Y. Paddock Jr., the Daily Herald Media Group’s vice chairman and executive vice president, and the newspaper’s editors talked about the role of community journalism with the 20- and 30-somethings, many of whom work for independent outlets that provide an alternative to state-run media.”

Kristina Berdynskykh, Reporter, “Novoye Vremya (New Time) Magazine and author of the book “Ye ludy” (There are people), shared with the Daily Herald that people in Ukraine don’t trust the media because they are owned by oligarchs, but they do trust journalists who write the truth.

All agreed that reporting the truth is vital.

Here is their visit in pictures.

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