Founded in November 2013, Hromadske.tv remains an important example of a civil initiative in countering Russian propaganda.
The television station gained popularity during the Maidan protest and is now the most watched 24/7 broadcasting YouTube channel in the world. Gumenyuk spoke about the three major challenges Ukraine, as she sees it, is facing: tackling corruption in government, the threat of Putin and Russia’s foreign policy, and how to reunify the country.
The nature of war in a democratic country, she argued, means that different opinions (disseminated through the media) are allowed and even encouraged and this is not a sign of weakness. Independent journalism, she continued, is in the public interest- and this makes challenging Russian-owned television, as well as Ukrainian channels owned by the oligarchs, crucial. Gumenyuk spoke of the necessity of transparency in journalism; Hromadske.tv is very open about its funding sources, which she believes is part of how they have gained the trust of Ukrainians.
Hromadske.tv’s strategy for the future includes plans to expand to the Baltic States and other countries whose primary news source is currently Russian television. Gumenyuk concluded that online video reporting is currently the most useful means of disseminating information at this time.
Gumenyuk sees the role of the media in Ukraine to keep the reforming institutions honest. “Responsible journalism, like other civil initiatives, requires loyalty to the state rather than a specific political party”, she said. Populism in Ukraine, especially in the East, is rife, Gumenyuk acknowledged. To overcome this, she concluded the politicians and institutions in Ukraine need to carry out their own reforms in order to gain their population’s trust, as well as lead the strategy for the war in eastern Ukraine.
The discussion was hosted by Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow to the Transitions Forum, Legatum Institute.