BRIBERY SERIES: WHY CORRUPTION STORIES IN THE MEDIA DO NOT END

How does the media cover topics related to corruption and its overcoming? What types of corruption are most frequently mentioned? Which stories prevail - those that are about overcoming corruption, or, conversely, about the victory of the corrupt? Who is responsible for corruption, according to the media? The answers to these questions are provided by a comprehensive study "Corruption Through Media Filters", conducted by the Center for Content Analysis in partnership with USAID SACCI and the Ukraine Сrisis Media Center.

The study was conducted in order to identify trends in media coverage of corruption in various segments (institutional corruption, in business, in everyday life, in local authority bodies) and the attitude of the media to corruption in Ukraine.

Media sample: top 100 Internet media (sample of media with significant coverage, balanced by owner, audience and format), top 20 national print media and top 20 national television channels.

There were 39,334 reports mentioning the words "corruption", "bribery" and others, as well as the names of anti-corruption bodies, in Ukrainian and Russian.

Proportional sample: 1834 messages, or every twenty-first. The share of relevant messages in the array is 77.2%. That is, in the end, 1416 reports were selected that were relevant to the research objectives, ie, those related to corruption in Ukraine and containing meaningful judgments about it, ie, every 28th from the initial sample.

Next, a content analysis was performed according to the latent coding procedure, as well as coding according to the method of PR-message analysis.

PORTRAYAL OF CORRUPTION IN THE MEDIA
PORTRAYAL OF CORRUPTION IN THE MEDIA

Slightly more than half of the reports mentioned corruption in a generalized and impersonal way, either in analytical articles on development prospects or on other issues. At the same time, the list of the latter was very wide: corruption appeared in the context of domestic politics, international relations, higher education, economics, problems of utility tariffs, and so on.

At the same time, it is worth to note a certain decrease in the share of generalized views on corruption compared to 2018-2019: the media preferred specific cases. Among them, the absolute majority were law enforcement agencies' reports on the detention of bribe-takers, exposing corruption schemes, and so on. This led to a significant advantage of the narrative of "corruption in the process of overcoming."

Most of the stories about the detention and the announcement of suspicion were not continued in the media: very few cases came to a guilty verdict, and those that did not received too much attention. Officials and responsible institutions communicated the process of overcoming corruption, while investigative journalism more often pointed to impunity.

PORTRAYAL OF CORRUPTION IN DIFFERENT TYPES OF MEDIA
PORTRAYAL OF CORRUPTION IN DIFFERENT TYPES OF MEDIA

Internet media, which have a high frequency of publications, provided almost 90% of all mentions. However, the main part of the audience was attracted by mass television. In part, TV channels were interested in the most high-profile cases, in part, they "pulled" out of nowhere cases that were not widely distributed in other media. Most Internet outlets that mentioned corruption had very little coverage.

The "Big Five" of TV channels associated with different oligarchs demonstrated somewhat different approaches to the topic: TC Inter (Firtash) often spread general speculations about corruption, framing them with a message about the inability of the current government to deal with the problem or narratives of relations with the United States; 1+1 (Kolomoiskyi) paid great attention to specific cases of corruption, and for the most part maintained a positive tone, reporting on the successful struggle; STB and ICTV (Pinchuk) more often mentioned the topic of corruption in relation with other topics; TRK Ukraina (Akhmetov) mentioned both specific cases and corruption in general, while interspersing the optimistic tone with pessimism. It is also worth noting 1+1's close attention to the fate of bribe judge M. Chaus.

KEY MESSAGES ON CORRUPTION AND FIGHT AGAINST IT
KEY MESSAGES ON CORRUPTION AND FIGHT AGAINST IT

It seemed that Western partners, not Ukrainians themselves, needed to overcome corruption in Ukraine the most. The main recipe for overcoming was digitalization, not anti-corruption bodies.

The study was presented on August 27 at the Lviv Media Forum.

Read more about the research methodology, the attitude of the media to various segments of corruption (institutional, business, domestic, in local authorities) in the full presentation, which can be downloaded below.

Download the full version in pdf
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