The story of the editorial board “Pershyi Kryvorizkyi”

The Lviv Media Forum launched an Emergency Media Support Program on the first day of the full-scale invasion. During almost 6 months of project implementation (at the time of publication of the material), the organization supported over 150 requests from all over the country.

We’ve launched a series of interviews to tell about the media we’ve helped since February 24. Among them is “Pershyi Kryvorizkyi”, whose editor-in-chief is Sofia Skyba.

About the work of the media until February 24

We are, first and foremost, news media. The news department is necessary for us because we understand the local context well. We know from which side to approach whom, we know regional accents, etc. Our team has always focused on this. After all, people want to see themselves, know the heroes from their neighbouring yard, and share information about, supposedly, a fire in a city building. We highly value interaction with the audience in this format and always try to communicate with them, explain contexts, and use the news to encourage people to think analytically.

In the last three years, not least thanks to the Lviv Media Forum, we started making more caption videos and realized that our audience, especially on social media, likes them because one can read the subtitles instead of listening to them. This format also allows us to reach people who cannot hear but want to see a picture or emotions.

On February 24, we did not begin to do anything critically different. Of course, in the first month of the great war, there was a total lack of understanding of what to do next. We filmed almost nothing and took most of the data from open sources. But then everything went back to normal. We have just begun to write more about news all over Ukraine because the residents of Kryvyi Rih have moved around the world.

Currently, we have several projects. Together with the Lviv Media Forum, we are creating a series of special projects on the fight against disinformation; together with MDF, we tell the stories of immigrants. We are multimedia: we make texts, audio, and video.

Фото надала команда видання

The editorial policy of the publication emphasizes that we love our city. And any settlement is, first of all, about the people who live there. That is why we tell stories. After all, the witnesses of the war are not only those who were in the epicentre of hostilities. Witnesses of the war are a mother who lost her job because of it, a father whose two sons went to the front, and a farmer who saw a rocket flying in the morning and went to work in the field in the afternoon. This pleases us: the fact that we can communicate with people.

Фото надала команда видання

How the work was reformatted after February 24

On the morning of February 24, I called everyone. We like to communicate on Telegram, so something extraordinary had to happen (like a full-scale invasion 🙂 for me to make a call. When residents started writing in the chat about explosions in one of the parts of the city, I called the press officer of the 17th Tank Brigade — and she started yelling at me. I understood everything. In particular, the fact I needed to make two important decisions: for my family and the editorial office.

Софія Скиба, головна редакторка видання «Перший Криворізький»

Everyone had the right to choose. Those who wanted to go to the office could go to the central one, on the 95th block, and those who wanted to leave the city could move out. At the same time, we determined who and which equipment everyone has and which one is needed to be able to do everything from home.

At first, we worked non-stop. Nothing was clear, but we had two plans: in case of hostilities, we would stay, and in case of occupation, we would leave. For the first three or four days, we agreed to text each other every 15 minutes to be in touch. I also turned on the news feed, but later I realized that our irregular schedule was already unhealthy, and we divided the working hours.

Фото надала команда видання

For me, the interaction with our readers was indicative. In the first weeks, when everyone suspected even friends or neighbours of fire adjusters and enemies, we created a separate chat for our regular readers and gave them admin rights. They, on a volunteer basis, cleaned our comments from bots. I am incredibly grateful to them. At that moment, it was clear why we were here: because there were people in the city you could rely on and who could rely on you.

Most of our team, which remained in the city, also volunteered: people wove nets, cooked, and sorted the humanitarian aid.

One of the tools for communication has become a new bot in Telegram, which was previously unreachable. Literally, in the first days after the launch, people started sending their questions or news about what was happening in the city.

There were also some curious situations. For example, imagine you are sitting, typing the news, worrying, and suddenly you are receiving a notification in the bot saying “Thank you.” You send a question mark in response and get: “I mean for your work.”

I always remembered the Lviv Media Forum. When our boss went to war, we analyzed the situation, the organization’s team approached us, and we immediately agreed to cooperate.

Last week, for example, we visited the Zelenodol community, which is constantly under fire. I put on a heavy bulletproof vest given to us by the Lviv Media Forum and realized that the fact they helped us close security issues is sometimes even more warming than funding. We work with many partners and are sincerely grateful to each of them. But if we talk about values, then it is, first of all, about the Lviv Media Forum. They give quality feedback about the people who work there and help to develop further.

Фото надала команда видання

When we were offered to participate in a project to combat disinformation, I realized that this was our opportunity to not only publish news and stories but also to be useful. Approximately two months after that, residents began contacting us with their suggestions on countering disinformation. The prediction of the media forum that there would be such a demand in the market worked out.

Consultations with psychologists and a joint chat with other regional editorial boards throughout Ukraine were also very useful. It is interesting to learn that in any region of Ukraine – eastern or western, frontline or relatively safe – there are still common problems and common victories.

The Emergency Media Support Program is implemented in cooperation with International Renaissance Foundation, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Prague Civil Society Centre, USAID – US Agency for International Development, IMS (International Media Support), Deutsche Welle Akademie and n-ost.

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