From June to October 2023, the editorial team of the regional media, Volodymyretskyi Visnyk LLC, actively collaborated with the communities of the Varash district to address and report on the issues affecting community life. What was interesting and what was achieved within the framework of the grant project “Regional Media Volodymyrets.City – a platform for communication with communities in the Varash district?”

Volodymyretskyi Visnyk LLC is a regional media outlet with its editorial office located in Volodymyrets, Varash district, Rivne region. The media has a printed newspaper “Volodymyretskyi Visnyk,” which will be 80 years old on November 3, 2023, and digital platforms on the internet.
The media was denationalized in 2016, becoming independent, with a printed regional newspaper circulating within 2 thousand copies through subscriptions and retail sales.

We have been implementing it for four months as part of a regular grant project. The editorial idea of the project “Regional Media Volodymyrets.City – a platform for communication with communities in the Varash district” was implemented from June to October 2023, with the financial support of the European Union.

The full-scale war has put everyone in a crisis situation, but the editorial staff is looking for a way out

Since last February, when Ukraine and its people were compelled to learn how to save, prepare for defense, support the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and even join the troops due to the invasion by Russian occupiers – navigating both physical and economic survival – the editorial board of Volodymyretskyi Visnyk LLC has also become a hostage to the full-scale invasion.
However, the editorial team, composed of women, incidentally, proved to be resilient to unforeseen circumstances, and there has not been a single disruption in the publication of “Volodymyretskyi Visnyk” newspaper. Maybe that’s why our readers and subscribers trust us and are still with us, despite the difficulties of delivery.
Back in March last year, the idea arose to start writing grant applications. In March 2022, we secured our first successful MDF project, and the funds received, totaling a thousand euros, allowed us to navigate through the financial challenges of that difficult time. Since then, the entire activity is supported with European funds.
In 2023, the editorial staff was looking for development opportunities and alternatives to the already established, but insufficient productivity. If we aim to develop, we need to secure funding and learn to rely not only on subscriptions. Again, we came to the conclusion that without a grant, our plans will not succeed.

The grant from the European Union and for the second time – from the UMBA significantly strengthened the regional editorial board

Volodymyretskyi Visnyk LLC and the UKRAINIAN MEDIA BUSINESS ASSOCIATION launched the project “Effective Local Media: Digital Development to Involve Communities” with financial support from the European Union. The project, titled “Regional Media Volodymyrets.City”: the digital development of the media resource – a platform for communication with the communities of the Varash district (hereinafter referred to as the Project) commenced on June 1, 2023.

For four months, we organized various events, including offline meetings, discussions, and interviews. We also created a series of materials for the newspaper, incorporating video and audio recordings of the events. These efforts were aimed at addressing and solving recently updated problems faced by communities and residents of the Varash district.
All materials were published on a dedicated website section. Please follow the link to read.
We also created an editorial video recording studio called“PROslukhai.City“.
By the way, folklorists from Svaryn have already recorded in the studio. The video from the event received approval from 1.1 thousand users on our Facebook page, and almost 50 thousand have already viewed it!
And all materials related to the events held are posted on our digital platforms.

Printscreen of Volodymyrets.City website by Volodymyrets.City

This project is a continuation and extension of the current E-CONTACT project
Request help or file a complaint? We have a request form. Please follow the link and fill it out by answering the questions.

Our online resources and their popularity

Media Volodymyretskyi Visnyk LLC is a regional media outlet with digital platforms called Volodymyrets.City:
 Volodymyrets.City website (according to GA for July, 29.5K clicks (web pages) 710k visits (web pages), 194 pages with new visitors (approx.)
♦ YouTube – as of October 01, 2023, 2.13 thousand users have subscribed and subscriptions are growing daily (in June it was only 1.3 thousand),
♦ Facebook (page 4,4 thousand likes) readers: 10 thousand + group of ads and advertisements – Public group of 14.8 thousand participants ,
♦ Instagram – 1,380 posts Followers: 2,767. Following: 1,857
♦ Twitter – 1 701 posts
♦ Telegram – 476 subscribers for a week of existence (channel +group).

Printscreen of Volodymyrets.City website by Volodymyrets.City

It is worth noting that during the project’s activity, all figures have increased significantly. Digital media platforms have gained popularity, thanks to up-to-date materials and robust technical support.
In general, the monthly reach of the print newspaper “Volodymyretskyi Visnyk” is substantial, encompassing 6-9 thousand people from the Varash District of different ages and social statuses, including IDPs, as well as subscribers from the Sarny area and Rivne region.

Which topics were the most successful?

Even without monitoring, we can say that in every Ukrainian city and community there is a problem of homeless animals. Well, this doesn’t reflect the European mentality yet. We express regret about sterilizing our cats and dogs, but we consider throwing them away to be more humane, giving them a chance to survive. In fact, this is a mistake.

It was this problem that the editorial staff started addressing in March 2023, when they observed a dozen dogs on the street almost biting a man. He managed to escape, and we wrote an article about the incident, questioning the Volodymyrets village council on how to address similar situations.

Later, that topic developed into one of the project events: Stray animals: Who is to blame and what should the community do? On July 19, the editorial board of Volodymyretskyi Visnyk LLC convened eleven experts and representatives from the communities of the Varash district on Zoom to discuss the issue of homeless animals on the streets. What is the result?

The event was broadcast on Facebook. and it was immediately watched by more than four thousand viewers! That means that the topic is urgent. A week later, the situation with animals on the streets repeated, and we wrote about it because our readers sent a video – we responded.

It is nice to mention that Halyna Khlestun and Viktoriia Morochenets, zoo activists from ZOONADIIA NGO, Varash, as well as Oleksandr Petruk from the State Consumer Service of Varash District actively engaged in solving the problem.

Later, the Volodymyrets Village Council entered into a contract for the capture of animals and implemented it several times. However, they pointed out that the procedure is too expensive – they had to allocate 1,800 hryvnias from the budget for capturing and maintaining just one animal.

Do we see any results after an event, a published video, a newspaper article, and free ads promoting the opportunity to adopt a cat or dog from a shelter or the street?

In Volodymyrets, the queue for sterilization is already booked every Saturday until spring. The result speaks for itself.

Yes, we have – there is an increased interest in animal sterilization. Sterilization has become normal.

In Antonivka, activist and volunteer Liudmyla Motsyk opened a sterilization point for animals in her hair salon, which is currently not operational due to the war. She invites a doctor from Rivne every week!

In the comments on this video, the zoo activist Victoriia Morochenets emphasized that the problem is still entirely unresolved, so everyone together still has something to work on for the future.

“Before we raised this topic, in fact, we have been working for 3 years on organizing animal sterilization since 2020. Zoonadiia NGO caught and took our local animals to Kostopil for sterilization. The local authorities don’t want to see or hear anything! Homeless animals are sterilized and treated at our own expense, caring people are thrown off, unfortunately, the same ones… don’t the local authorities think that we need our sterilization point? Affordable for all. We work without a salary, spend our time, effort, money, look for a room, we need help. Shoot another story in the village council, ask who did all this all this time? What do they plan to do to change the situation in the community, to convey the laws of Ukraine to the villagers? When the Lutsk volunteers arrived to catch and sterilize animals, they said in the village council that we do not have volunteers! This is outrageous! Animals do not fall from the sky, people through newborn animals out! And when the animals run in packs around the village, people blame zoo activists. This is nonsense! If anyone believes that we are doing this for profit, we invite everyone to join our team; we have numerous vacancies – so why are there no applicants!? Become at least one day a volunteer from morning to night, and “earn” our money. Last weekend, we sterilized 5 stray local dogs, paid almost UAH 2500. No one wants to ask who pays for it?.”

We recorded violations of Ukrposhta and protected the interests of pensioners

June was somewhat extreme for journalists and the entire project team – we heard hundreds of complaints about the work of Ukrposhta and complaints about violations of periodicals delivery schedules due to reforms in the postal industry. This topic was the actual beginning of the project. First of all, we must protect the interests of our readers and subscribers and our fellow countrymen.
A whole series of materials and videos were created on the issues of improper activity of mailers. We launched our hotline and joined the collection of facts together with the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine. Every day, we received calls or even visits from pensioners at the editorial office.

They wrote us collective appeals, and asked for help in restoring the activities of post offices and returning postmen. The problem is all-Ukrainian.

We have redirected that correspondence to appropriate structures that might affect the process. Did you manage to change anything? Yes. In Antonivka, where the journalists of Volodymyrets.City visited on June 16, the post office resumed operations on August 1! People thank us for that.

Internet security. Experts gave advice at meetings with journalists

Every day, the National Police gives sad statistics of fraud on the internet. People trust and fall for sophisticated schemes of scammers. How can we teach media hygiene and media security to our users and readers? This problem is the one we aimed to solve, at least partially, within the framework of the project “Regional Media Volodymyrets.City – a platform for communication with communities in the Varash district.

In August, we discussed the topic “Introduction to financial security or how not to get hooked by scammers or propaganda?” with Cyber Police experts and psychologists from Polytska Penitentiary-76. We discussed the statistics of cybercrime, phishing, and other fraudulent schemes in the Rivne region, and in general, we covered the most popular and recent fraud schemes on the internet. Also, the expert from the penitentiary described the socio-psychological portraits of scammers and victims, as well as cause-and-effect relationships in such crimes. These videos are freely available and we hope that the information will become preventive and useful to someone.
The editorial staff organized and held two events on these topics. The second online meeting was devoted to the topic “Introduction to informational and media hygiene: fact-checking and resistance to enemy propaganda.”

What is PSYOP, fake, fact-checking, what are fakes and why do we respond to false messages on the internet, who needs it, how not to become a victim of PSYOP? This was discussed in an August conversation with experts/specialists of the Cyber Police and Polytska Penitentiary-76.
It is worth noting that since then, partnerships and cooperation have been established with the Cyber Police, and on several occasions, we have successfully prevented phishing and hacking attempts by scammers targeting the personal pages of our users on Facebook.

The editorial office of the media in Volodymyrets became the organizer and location for meetings and communications

War is a painful topic. Loss of relatives, faith and trust. And also, PTSD and despair. In the Varash district, up to thirty families have been searching for their relatives, military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, since March 2022. They are considered missing. The editorial team keeps in touch with families and keeps them informed.
On partnership terms, the editorial staff, when organizing a meeting with representatives of the Coordination Center for Missing Persons and Olena Khotenko, managed to invite these grieving women in September.

Later, we met in the editorial studio of PROslukhai.City. It was a sincere conversation about the realization that, in the ninth year of the war with the Russians, society has not yet learned how to properly communicate with the families of combatants who have experienced losses. The barrier does exist, acknowledged the participants of the meeting titled “Dialog of Faith or Faith in Dialogue.”

After the event, we asked questions to Olha Yakovlieva, the representative of Veteran Space of Rivne Regional Council. Furthermore, the editorial team is working on a meeting plan in the newly created editorial co-working space “Prostir.City” with these families and specialists, expanding and addressing the problem of communication barriers caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
And also – our coworking space “Prostir.City” welcomes guests. It is worth noting that the idea of creating such a free and communicative space came about recently – thanks to the funds received through a grant from the European Union and the Ukrainian Media Business Association, making it possible.
At our own expense and with the support of philanthropist Viktor Mialyk, we renovated a spacious editorial room that had been unused until then.

It was here that Volodymyretskiy Visnyk LLC celebrated the anniversary of its printed publication – a newspaper that originally, in 1943, had the appearance of a partisan postcard and was called “Karmeliuk.” Then it was “Vilne Zhyttia”, “Leninska Zoria”, and now it’s “Volodymyretskyi Visnyk”.

In the coworking space, we also set up a retro-style photo zone, allowing each visitor to have a professional photoshoot using the editorial photo and lighting equipment purchased as part of the project.
In the near future, we are already considering the possibility of launching a “weekend movie” for adults and children. We even had a survey in our newly created Telegram channel.

Eighteen of our subscribers expressed a desire to come to the cinema hall “Prostir.City”

The idea and the need to create a Telegram channel for communication were suggested by our mentor from the project, Oleksii Pohorielov. He even organized an online meeting with an expert on these issues.

Grants are an important support for regional media, as proven in practice by the European Union

The regional editorial office of Volodymyretskyi Visnyk LLC is now recognized by the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine as one of the leading editorial offices in Ukraine. Serhii Tomilenko mentioned in his speech at the newspaper’s anniversary:

Our readers and subscribers trust us and seek our help. This is the most important thing for regional media.
The editorial team will continue to monitor financial opportunities from the European Union, UMBA, and all grant providers. This is progress and development in a European way.

The material was prepared with the financial support of the European Union. The content is the sole responsibility of Volodymyretskyi Visnyk LLC and does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Union.