Unfortunately, with the onset of a full-scale invasion by Russia, many industries in Ukraine find themselves having to survive in the conditions of war. This can also be said about local media, which are in a rather difficult situation. Only thanks to donors and grants do we manage to stay afloat and continue our work. The “Nashe Misto” newspaper and the Starkon.city website are no exceptions. We continuously seek opportunities to engage in various projects, aiming not only to secure financial support during these challenging times but also to receive professional assistance, acquire new knowledge, and expand our reach. Our goal is to increase active readership, broaden the list of advertisers, and establish meaningful feedback with our regular readers.

The offer from the Ukrainian Media Business Association appeared in our mailbox more timely than ever. We understood that we needed new ideas and interesting projects, but we did not dare to do anything new. The project titled “”Starkon.city Media Portal: Location of Honest News and Help” encouraged us to act to help ourselves and others. We have previously tried to be useful to our community and our readers, and tried to raise topical issues and problems of the territorial community. But we didn’t always have feedback. As we began working on the project, we decided to concentrate on current topics relevant to our community, including employment and providing information about military realities. We managed to create unique materials for the website and newspapers and videos about displaced persons and help them solve the problem of employment in our community. Having secured the first successes, together with our partners – the Starokostiantyniv Department of the Khmelnytskyi branch of the Khmelnytskyi regional employment center, we created a weekly column on our website. This section started appearing on the Starkon.city since June 20, and as part of the project, 15 materials about vacancies have been published. We are currently expanding that section, attracting more readers and followers to our social media. Through a selection of available vacancies, Starokostiantyniv residents and IDPs can secure employment in our region. Above all, we are delighted that, through these collections, three displaced persons in our community have found employment and express gratitude for their work on every occasion.

We publish ads from employers within the project for free, and, naturally, this section assists the editorial staff in attracting new advertisers. In addition, we had a conversation with Lesia Fesun, the head of the Starokostiantyniv Employment Service, to understand the employment process for displaced persons within the Starokostiantyniv community.
Starokostiantyniv is a military city, making it vulnerable to enemy attacks involving missiles and Shahed-type UAVs. There were similar attacks during the project implementation. Therefore, before the implementation of the project, Starokostiantyniv residents experienced an information vacuum concerning military realities. As part of the project, we produced three publications on the website and in the newspaper, along with two video stories highlighting the unique experiences of servicemen from the 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade named after P. Franko. Additionally, we conducted a detailed interview with Brigade Commander Yevhen Bulatskyi. Furthermore, with the support of the donor, journalists were able to continue a series of materials about the deceased pilots of the brigade, all united under the theme of ‘Indestructible Crews.’ Thus, together with the project partners – the 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade named after P. Franko – we perpetuate the memory of the heroes of Ukraine.

We interviewed and created a video story about the work of the chairman of the board of condominiums. She shared her own experience of how to change (modernize) an old high-rise building during the war and make it comfortable (even in case of power outages,which is especially relevant for residents of our community. Now, residents of other apartment buildings in the city are adopting its experience, and the process of creating new associations of co-owners has already commenced.

Thanks to popular community topics and UMBA mentors who taught us how to conduct feedback effectively – using surveys, infographics, and managing comments – we successfully improved the effectiveness of our work and increased audience engagement. The average monthly audience of the website was 43,000 before the project was implemented; today, it is 74,500. The number of followers on the Starkon.city Facebook page was 5,400 before the project implementation and has increased to 5,846 today. The number of followers on the Starkon.city Telegram channel increased from 2,688 before the project implementation to 4,160 today. The number of Instagram followers was 3,165 before the project implementation and has since increased to 3,285. The circulation of the newspaper (published once a week) increased from 2,500 copies before the project implementation to the current 2,680.

It is also crucial for us that the donor has assisted our media in sustaining our activities during the war, even under fire and in shelters. Now, we have the opportunity to update the website and social media, thanks to the support of the donor and the assistance of UMBA. We’ve acquired two new laptops and a new photo lens. Journalists can now capture high-quality photos by going directly to the scenes. We express our gratitude to the donor and the assistance provided by UMBA and its team for helping us believe in ourselves and move forward.

This publication was created with the support of the European Union. The content is the sole responsibility of the Ukrainian Media Business Association and does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Union, whose financial support made the project possible.