WAN-IFRA and the Association of Independent Regional Publishers of Ukraine (AIRPPU) have condemned attempts to pressure Texty.org.ua journalists and undermine their work, as reaction to a recent investigative report continues to build. 

The report, ‘Roller Coaster – From Trumpists to Communists. The forces in the U.S. impeding aid to Ukraine and how they do it’, published on 6th June, presented an analysis of the political, media, and expert environment in the United States that influences decision-making around support for Ukraine in the ongoing war with Russia.

The study analysed “several thousand pieces of content mentioning the war in Ukraine” between November 2023 and April 2024, including articles, social media posts, videos, and podcasts where Ukraine was mentioned. It identifies a wide range of groups opposing support for Ukraine, “from supporters of former President Donald Trump to Communists, and explores the ecosystem of mutual support among those who hold this position.”

The report’s authors listed 388 individuals and 76 organisations, ranging from politicians to political movements and groups, media and journalists, experts and think tanks, who have the potential to influence US policy towards Ukraine.

Some of those listed reacted angrily, falsely claiming the data represented a “list of enemies” of Ukraine – accusations that a Ukrainian government spokesperson was forced to categorically deny. Other US Republican figures named in the research called the report a “smear” and wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to provide answers on any State Department links to, and funding for, Texty.org.ua.

Following publication, Texty.org.ua journalists reportedly “faced pressure, manipulation, slander, demands to strip us of donor funding, and threats of physical violence.” Releasing a statement on 13th June detailing the attacks against it, the organisation also reiterated its data-gathering techniques and research methodology: 

“As part of the evidence base, the research includes a table listing organisations and individuals in the U.S. who oppose supporting Ukraine,” said the publication. “We analysed their arguments, compared them with common Russian disinformation narratives, and debunked these narratives with evidence and source references.

“We also investigated how the individuals and organisations mentioned in our research interact in the public sphere and how some interact with Russian media and state institutions. All published data regarding individuals and organisations are taken from the open, including official sources.”

Founded in 2010 by Anatoliy Bondarenko and Roman Kulchynsky, Texty.org.ua is an independent data journalism agency that creates data journalism projects and works “in traditional journalistic genres ranging from lengthy reportage to short messages,” all with a “Ukrainian view of the world.”

According to Texty.org.ua, the ‘Roller Coaster’ report was conducted independently with reader support.

WAN-IFRA and AIRPPU denounce attempts to discredit legitimate investigative reporting and in a statement called “for all threats of violence against Texty.org.ua journalists to cease.” 

“The two organisations remind critics of Texty.org.ua that freedom of the press and the work of independent media are a hallmark of a strong democratic state. Efforts to delegitimize journalistic content and deliberately misrepresent publicly sourced data are nothing more than an attempt to hide objective information from public scrutiny. Furthermore, threats to weaken the financial viability of a critical news source and manipulate its research to suit an outside political agenda are incredibly dangerous at a time when we need more independent journalism and greater accountability from elected officials.”

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