Working towards quality legal journalism in Ukraine
Since the summer of 2020, CFI has been supporting the development of "SudReporter", the first Ukrainian media outlet specialising in court case reporting.
Judicial journalism as a separate, high-quality and complex genre, with a specific professional approach, is still in its infancy in Ukraine. There are no specialised courses in journalism schools. Media outlets are often reluctant to single out this topic, usually chasing only high-profile cases and scandalous decisions superficially, without reporting deeply on the trial process and reviewing the case in detail.
Because this approach takes time, energy and specific competences. Reporting in court rooms requires legal knowledge, attention and patience, as hearings may last long or sometimes be postponed. The conditions in the courts themselves are not adapted to the reporters’ work. Sometimes readers find the reporting unattractive, as it lacks "action". Maybe it's also explained by the fact that Ukrainian media still don't have developed a culture of Justice Journalism?
A pioneering media outlet
However, things are changing for the better!
Enthusiast newcomers try to develop this aspect of the media coverage. Late 2017, journalist Iryna Salii decided to create an online media, Sudovyi Reporter (Court Reporter): the first media outlet in Ukraine to cover exclusively lawsuits and cases. A pioneering media!
Irina relied on her own strength and enthusiasm, without sponsors and start-up capital. But soon, the information published by "SudReporter" gained visibility and were broadly used by other mainstream media for their own publications.
During the three years of its existence, "SudReporter" passed all the stages of a volunteer initiative, withstood difficult times, pressure and discrediting by a third party, obtained intellectual property rights to the trademark “Sudovyi Reporter” through the court, and gained recognition among other media organizations, lawyers and people connected to justice. For all these years, this unbiased media has been supported only by crowdfunding and donations from readers and concerned citizens.
Covering legal news across the country
In the summer of 2020, CFI as part of the Pravo-Justice project offered institutional support to "SudReporter" to bring this unique media to a higher level. At CFI, we share with the media a common goal: to improve the understanding of justice and judicial reform in the Ukrainian society, as well as the development of quality judicial journalism.
In September 2020, CFI has contracted "SudReporter" to produce 30 contents through a support to production scheme. This was an opportunity for the media outlet to create a network of regional journalists (correspondents) covering judicial news in all Ukrainian regions . Through this initiative, "SudReporter" can publish news, stories and multimedia articles about justice in the regions, not only in Kyiv. The project aims to widen audiences of "SudReporter" in the region and the popularity of court reporting.
Within just two months, the website of "SudReporter" has been enriched by a dozen articles, reports and twenty shorter news pieces from Odesa, Dnipro, Cherkasy, Sumy, Khmelnytskyy, Zaporizhzhya, Ternopil, Kropyvnytskyy, Poltava and Zhytomyr. Journalists who participate to the "SudReporter's Club" gain experience and useful practical advices in shaping quality publications and to diversify the content of topics, as well as to strengthen their financial capacity in the regions.
CFI wants to follow "SudReporter" on its journey from a volunteer initiative towards the recognition as a reference media in the field of justice.