Daily Press, Va. Gazette host visiting journalists from Ukraine

By | 2018-10-18T16:14:28+00:00 October 18th, 2018|

 

Visiting journalists from the Ukraine stand with the staff of the Virginia Gazette. The group is the ninth to visit Virginia through the exchange program. Photo by Andi Petrini.

The Daily Press and the Virginia Gazette hosted visiting journalists from Ukraine this week as part of an exchange program intended to help Ukrainian media adapt to their evolving media landscape and to create a dialogue between Ukrainian journalists and U.S. journalists about the roles and practices of independent media.

The week-long visit was part of a partnership, established in 2010, between the Daily Press Media group and IREX, an international nonprofit group.

The four Ukrainian journalists that are currently visiting are from Bilopilshchynam, a weekly newspaper in northeastern Ukraine. Two interpreters also accompanied the group, which was the ninth to come to Virginia through the program. Reporters from Daily Press and the Virginia Gazette have visited Ukraine eight times through the program, seven for exchanges and once for a conference.

The Ukrainian journalists split their time between various cultural activities— visiting an archeological dig at Jamestown, touring Colonial Williamsburg and exploring the archives of old newspapers, going to Fort Monroe, visiting the Newseum in D.C.–and meeting and talking with reporters, editors, circulation specialists and advertising individuals at the Press and Gazette.

Wednesday, the group had the opportunity to meet and talk with Rep. Rob Wittman (R.-Va., 1st) at an event for veterans in Williamsburg.

The conversations between the visiting journalists and Daily Press and Virginia Gazette employees hit on a lot of different subjects—from best reporting practices, to improving open-record laws, to managing a for-profit newspaper, said Ryan Gilchrest, managing editor of the Daily Press and Virginian-Pilot and who has been involved in the program since 2013.

After the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, a law was passed that mandated that all remaining state-funded newspapers to become privatized, Gilchrest said.

After the law went into effect, the Ukrainian newspaper media had to figure out the best way to tackle being independent from state funding. That’s when the program, Gilchrest said, really began to emphasize how to help the journalists learn about practices that could help build and sustain their operations.

“While the United States is a lot younger country than the Ukraine, our media system is much more developed, and we have a lot more experience,” Gilchrest, who has been to Ukraine three times through the program, said. “There are a lot of things we can share with them about how to develop a long-term business, how to help expand some of the open records laws and, on top of that, share other business knowledge. It’s a pure information exchange.”

Svitlana Zholobaylo, senior program manager for the program and interpreter, said this trip offers her group the chance to see how U.S  newspapers function on multiple levels. One thing that the group is always interested in how American newspapers cover local government, wrote in an email.

“Everyone begins to understand how many things we have in common [as journalists],” Gilchrest said. “The environments in which we operate in are very different, but the challenges of the job and profession are very consistent. The jobs are so very similar even though they are half a world away.”

“It’s really interesting to see how these papers cover the work of local government and local authorities,” Zholobaylo said.

Zholobaylo, who has now been to Virginia five times through the program, also said the group of journalists is interested in how newspapers in the U.S. use social media. On Thursday and Friday, the group is spending time with the social media manager at the Daily Press to see what goes into managing various accounts for the paper, she said.

“It’s a versatile experience—sharing professional skills and knowledge and cultural experience,” Zholobaylo wrote. “They learn how to be multifunctional and efficient with less resources.”

The exchange helps remind both the visiting journalists and the ones at the Daily Press and Virginia Gazette that freedoms should not be taken for granted and that there is significant value in an independent and objective press, Zholobaylo said.

“Ukraine is still a young democracy (only 27 years since we gained our independence from the Soviet Union) though we have rich and ancient history,” Zholobaylo said. “Such exchange visits remind the U.S. reporters that you shouldn’t take your freedoms for granted. The Daily Press reporters set example how to use the freedom of speech right with their unbiased reporting and investigative work.”

Despite the differences between being a journalist in the U.S. and a journalist in Ukraine, Gilchrest said, the two groups realize during their time together that their jobs share more similiarities than differences.

“Everyone begins to understand how many things we have in common [as journalists],” Gilchrest said. “The environments in which we operate in are very different, but the challenges of the job and profession are very consistent. The jobs are so very similar even though they are half a world away.”