X LMF Conference: what we have achieved

X LMF - the second conference held in a special format in the underground shelter of Lviv Tech City business centre. The program included 30 events, 67 speakers, and moderators. The focal topic was: “Common Language for Common Sense: Search For Meaning in Polarized World.” 

<i>X LMF opening ceremony</i>
X LMF opening ceremony

The problem of polarisation is a pressing issue for the world, but it has not been the focus of media conferences until now. As in 2023, the objectives were:  

  • Strengthen international solidarity with Ukraine;
  • Counter toxic narratives about Ukraine spreading in the global information space;
  • Reflect on the experience of media coverage of war and its place in Ukrainian and global media;
  • Ensure that the Ukrainian perspective is communicated to media audiences worldwide. 

The focal theme dictated another important goal: to find common ground and points of connection between people and organizations with different perspectives on key global trends and processes, including the war in Ukraine. As the keynote speaker, Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of the Center for Civil Liberties, put it, the task was to “explain the key concepts we use when talking about war and peace… so that words begin to match the context, and people living far from the war can understand this experience.” 

<i>Head of the Centre for Civil Liberties Oleksandra Matviichuk</i>
Head of the Centre for Civil Liberties Oleksandra Matviichuk

We managed to significantly enhance the international component of the conference without drastically increasing its scale. While LMF 2023 had 469 participants from Ukraine and 17 other countries, in 2024, over 650 people attended from Ukraine and 29 from different countries. 

The conference featured two threads running in parallel: Common Language (more philosophical) and Common Sense (more practical). For those interested in the conference, we organized an online broadcast of some events and published video recordings of all sessions (in the original language) on our YouTube channel.

<i>X LMF</i>
X LMF

We offered participants a cultural program, which included exhibitions and interactive installations at the conference location, as well as tours and performances at other venues. The program was developed by cultural manager and curator Yevhenia Nesterovych. According to Yevhenia, the program aimed to “explain as little as possible and provide as much experiential understanding as possible. Through art, we created communicative situations that allowed for shared experiences and the freedom to make each moment meaningful in the here and now.” 

We were heard.

Content about the conference reached 1.32 million people. Video recordings of conference events amassed a total of 26,000 views within a month.

We combined contexts.

LMF conference continued to establish itself as a platform for not only international but also interdisciplinary communication and understanding. 

Examples of communication that led to understanding, integration, and harmonization of different contexts included the keynote speech by American literary scholar Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and her discussion with the researcher of colonialism in literature Ewa Thompson (who were previously unacquainted); a public interview of Olga Rudnieva, head of the Superhumans veteran rehabilitation center, with British neurosurgeon and writer Henry Marsh; and speeches by American journalist and podcaster Terrell Starr on overcoming colonial legacies, among others. Meanwhile, the practical Common Sense thread provided the media community, which made up the majority of the audience, with discussions on professionally relevant and important topics, as well as an exchange of experiences and reflections.  

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s visit was a particularly notable event of the conference. Despite her advanced age and frail health, she insisted on traveling from America to Ukraine to deliver a speech in which she imagined Ukraine freed from the burden of colonialism. This was her first visit to Ukraine, with which she has a family connection.

<i>Gayathri Chakravorty Spivak at the X LMF </i>
Gayathri Chakravorty Spivak at the X LMF 

The head of the Superhumans centre, Olga Rudneva, writes that she never dreamed of being able to speak publicly with Henry Marsh: "During the public conversation, we talked about how life on the brink of death is similar to the state of Ukrainians now, I told stories of how the loss of limbs changed our superheroes, Henry kept calling our centre superheroes instead of superhumans, and I didn't even correct him."

Some foreign speakers and guests, having traveled to Ukraine, did not limit themselves to Lviv and X LMF participation but also visited Kyiv, Odesa, and other cities. Thus, the invitation to the LMF conference became a stimulus for new partnerships, acquaintances, and impressions far beyond Lviv.

<i>Henry Marsh and Olga Rudneva at the X LMF</i>
Henry Marsh and Olga Rudneva at the X LMF

We launched a discussion on the principles of media support in Ukraine.

In 2024, the research team at the Lviv Media Forum conducted a study titled “The Donor Landscape of Media Support in Ukraine: Current State, Opportunities, Needs, Problems, and Future Prospects” (full text available). The X LMF conference was an occasion to bring together stakeholders - representatives of donor organisations, media support organisations and media researchers, as well as representatives of editorial offices of various types of Ukrainian media - not only to present the findings of the study, but also to invite them to discuss it. The main message of the study - "first and foremost, we should support capable media" - was received positively, though not unconditionally, and encouraged the community to engage in deeper discussions.

<i>Presentation of the research " />
Presentation of the research "Donor landscape of media support in Ukraine"

Ukraine has become closer and more understandable for guests.

We anticipate that a closer acquaintance with Ukraine, an enriched cultural/excursion program, exchange of ideas, and the establishment of new connections, along with the opportunity to witness the realities of wartime firsthand (starting from the conference venue hit by a missile strike and ending with a rehabilitation center for wounded soldiers), will make a strong impression on foreign guests and ultimately encourage them to enhance their support and solidarity with Ukraine. At the same time, Ukrainian participants, besides the practical networking opportunities, will expand their informational horizons. Thanks to the feedback, we know that our expectations have been met. 

Many discoveries were brought to the audience by the conversation between Tetyana Troshchynska and Valeria Subotina, dedicated to reconciling the contexts of the military and civilians in Ukraine. For some, it was an opportunity to consider for the first time the future role of veterans in Ukrainian society.

We helped to establish contacts. Judging by the feedback from conference participants — both Ukrainian and foreign — the most important gain over the three days of X LMF was new acquaintances. Most respondents — both Ukrainians and foreigners — highly appreciated the productivity of networking.

The responses of the surveyed foreign guests listed the following gains from the conference: 

  • Contacts for collaboration and joint travel;
  • Acquaintances with local journalists;
  • Potential closer contacts with local organizations;
  • New plans and projects;
  • Better understanding of Ukraine’s needs, etc. 

What people said about the conference.

Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, Chairman of the Committee on Freedom of Speech of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, summed up the event in detail: "a sea of ideas, task plans, scheduled meetings, a sense of responsibility". According to Yaroslav, the work at the forum resulted in three concrete outcomes: he will prepare draft laws to simplify access to the frontline zone for journalists during the war, create a working group with the participation of war correspondents under the committee, and work to strengthen media participation in self-regulation.

Marie-Doha Besancenot, NATO Assistant Secretary General: “Impressed by X LMF. Proud of NATO’s continued support in those tough times. For the opportunity to meet so many extraordinary actors from Ukraine’s vibrant independent media. Your job covering the war is more important than ever.”

Anastasia Rudenko, head of Rubryka, Eastern Variant, and Recovery Window: “Thank you for the warm meetings, mutual support, and shared dedication.”

Artem Bidenko, head of the Institute of Information Security: “X LMF is perfectly organized, with a high-quality program and an incredible vibe. Among the many positive reviews, I can add a purely professional one — the Forum team implemented a complex project (both logistically and programmatically) so smoothly and comfortably for all participants, as I have not seen in a long time.” 

Zarina Zabriskie, American journalist: “It is so inspiring to meet colleagues before going back to the frontlines. The strength is in community and it includes every single one of you.”

Almost all event participants who filled out the questionnaire indicated that they intend to visit the next LMF conference and will recommend it to friends, acquaintances, and colleagues.

Wu Min-Hsuan (Ttcat), Taiwanese cybersecurity expert, CEO of Doublethink Lab: “It has been a wonderful event, and we’ve learned a lot. I felt honored to attend and bring solidarity from Taiwan.”

We are not stopping.

Explaining Ukraine to the world, seeking understanding, and finding common ground are tasks that remain with us even after the conference ends. So we are implementing a special project that will collect cases and advice from representatives of various fields (diplomats, scientists, media, political scientists, athletes, artists, businessmen, etc.) who often represent Ukraine abroad or in communication with foreigners and can summarise their experience of promoting or defending Ukraine's position in an unfriendly environment. Expect it in autumn. 

X LMF team
X LMF team