In episode four of the IBC’s Changemaker series of Podcasts, Actors and Changemakers, Victoria Murovana, Head of Digital, UA: PBC SUSPILNE speaks to Nadira Tudor about the practicalities of living and working in broadcast media, in her home country that has become a warzone.
Murovana began by setting the conversation in context - not just in terms of her own safety, as she explained that the conversation may be interrupted by air-raid sirens - but in the wider context of telling the story of Ukraine today.
“You know what? It’s this way - so the Russian [aggression] is an injustice, it’s full of war crimes. If we speak as a media company, as a public broadcasting company, a public service, we all recognise what [the role of] public service media is now during this war, and if we can tell the world about what is going on in Ukraine or we can create content that can support people, we will do it. We recognise all these responsibilities.”
She also touched on the real-world challenges of being a parent in the midst of a conflict, as well as the personal anguish of losing friends and colleagues to the war. She then discussed how current events have thrown broad media concerns - such as knowing the technology and most importantly, knowing your audience - into even sharper relief.
But you know, our agenda, we should think and act very fast. Because we have now gained enough fans and followers to create something huge, in terms of long-term projects. We [must] think about very attractive, competitive content on the platforms where the audience are, in the format that they prefer.
We are not operating in a vacuum. We are competing with very aggressive, manipulative and deliberate false news [propaganda]. For example, on YouTube, we know that we have a lot of Russian manipulators operating public channels full of false news [designed to drown our voice]. We have to really fight to show our content.”
“An information war is going on, and it’s very aggressive. We have many public telegram channels, we have many people working on the frontline. We have many watchers in every city closer to the frontline, and they are researching and checking information [for accuracy], so that when something happens, people can immediately go to the public media channels [for reliable information].
“According to the last research, we have a trust rating of 87%, which is incredible for us, and [trust] is the most important thing.”
She touched on some emerging trends that are helping spread the word and combat misinformation.
“Working with big tech [platform providers] can be very challenging for any public broadcaster because you’re working not on your own platforms. So moving towards our own VOD platform is our big focus this year and we will try to make it a real safe place in the digital world, our niche, and it would be our repository for all kinds of content, audio visual, everything. In terms of performance, we see that the algorithms of Facebook are changing and personalised video [is on the rise], so we are trying to build up fast and to create [more content to suit] - we are trying to make Reels and reuse content.
“Short form content for youngsters is performing extremely well and we are not going to even take into consideration threats [about blocking] TikTok, we are there because our audience are totally there. Even older audiences, we’ve noticed that we are creating content for youngsters but there are many people 55 plus 65 plus who are watching TikTok and they were sharing it. So we would like to [create content that also speaks] to them in TikTok.
For example, Instagram - [that demographic] is using Instagram actively as it’s a very visual platform and they are sharing Instagram, using Instagram [quite widely]. So we would like to create something like an easy [to digest] format, more visual, maybe in a format of explainers. So that’s how we work, and we are also trying to build cross functional and cross platform teams [to tackle these challenges].”
Murovana explained that media innovation is more important than ever before for Ukraine, citing just one example: “We are working now on a TikTok incubator, an educational one for teenagers. Our responsibility is to fight for our cultural identity. To create content and offer the widest range of products for every audience.
“It’s very important to create something that people can really believe in and feel a part of, to feel the part of this very strong country.”
See all Changemakers Podcast Episodes, including upcoming Episode 5:
Episode 5 Collaboration and the power of a cup of coffee - Friday 8 September