History behind the LMF media conference

Lviv, Ukraine, 2013. The team that coordinated the media support for the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, was looking for ways to convert the world's media attention to the city and Ukraine into sustainable cooperation. 

This is how the idea of an international conference in Lviv came about, allowing Ukrainian media professionals to share experiences and engage in dialogue with foreign colleagues. At the same time, guests from other countries would have a chance to discover Ukraine. The Ukrainian Catholic University School of Journalism team, headed by Ihor Balynskyi, became a partner in developing the conference programme. 

The conference was entitled Lviv Media Forum (LMF). 

The first conference, "Where are the world's media going and will Ukraine keep up?", was held at the modern stadium Arena Lviv, built for Euro 2012, on 29-31 May 2013. The event brought together 400 media professionals, including 45 speakers from six countries. 

"We started the Lviv Media Forum with the ambition to create an event that would not only be useful for the media community but would be appreciated for its authenticity. Without unnecessary pathos, artificial topics and only about the most important things. We imagined a participant who, upon completion of the forum, should receive a powerful charge of inspiration for new ideas, new acquaintances and a feeling that he belongs to a community with the right values," recalls Ostap Protsyk, the first head of the Lviv Media Forum.  

In 2014, Russia attacked Ukraine, seized Crimea and unleashed a war in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. So the second conference was postponed to November and shortened to two days.

The very first LMF was the largest international journalism conference in Ukraine; in the following years, the number of guests, speakers and countries represented grew. In a few years, the conference hosted up to a thousand guests and up to a hundred speakers from several countries, had several streams and additional locations. 

"First of all, we took into account the reputation in the profession, as well as the relevant, preferably unique experience that a person can share with the audience," says Igor Balynsky, who has played a key role in selecting LMF speakers since 2013. "Many of our speakers have received the most prestigious awards in the journalism world, most notably the Pulitzer Prize. And since 2014, another important criterion has emerged: the person we invite must understand the Ukrainian context and support our country in its struggle for integrity and independence." 

Since 2017, The Oleksandr Kryvenko Award for Progress in Journalism has been given at the conference. 

At that time, the conference organising team began to launch additional activities outside the forum: trainings, master classes, media camps and residencies for Ukrainian and foreign journalists, the online media publication MediaLab, manuals, research on media ownership in Ukraine, etc. The Lviv Media Forum NGO has gradually evolved into a media support organisation. Another important area - the publication of documentary and reportage literature - grew into the Choven Publishing House.

It has become a tradition for hundreds of Ukrainian media professionals to gather in Lviv at the end of May. They combined business with pleasure: learning about key trends in the media world, sharing experiences and impressions, establishing new professional connections, relaxing and gaining inspiration together. 

In 2020, the coronavirus epidemic interfered with the organisers' plans: so the conference had to be cancelled. It was crucial for us that the event take place offline and that speakers from abroad could attend - it was impossible during the quarantine. Instead, the team started supporting media affected by the economic crisis and quarantine restrictions and organised online meetings with media professionals from around the world as part of the #StayAtHome Media Stories project. 

The eighth LMF was postponed to the end of August 2021. The conference had the focus theme "Real journalism matters [still]", with four parallel streams, and gathered about a thousand guests. 

In eight years, LMF has become the largest media conference in Central and Eastern Europe and the second (after the International Journalism Festival in Perugia) in Europe. But Russian aggression interfered with our plans once again. 

The conference was not timely in the spring of 2022 when Ukraine was resisting a full-scale invasion by the Russian army. "Lviv Media Forum focused on helping Ukrainian media affected by the war.  

In 2023, the ninth LMF conference was held in a special format, addressed primarily to foreign audiences and aimed at strengthening the world's solidarity with Ukraine. While the main language of the previous conferences was Ukrainian, in 2023, English was spoken on stage. The focus topic was "After the war or before the war. How a civilisation can overcome chaos" reflected the challenge faced not only by Ukraine but by the entire civilised world. To ensure the safety of the guests, the conference was held in the underground shelter of the Lviv Tech City innovation centre. 

"One of the consequences of the war that Russia is waging against Ukraine is a sense of the importance of relationships. We felt the support of those with whom we had never worked before. We have survived thanks to the strength of the network and we want to develop it further," comments Olha Myrovych, head of the Lviv Media Forum. 

The tenth conference of the LMF will take place on 16-18 May 2024, with the focus theme "Common Language for Common Sense: Search For Meaning in Polarized World".