Our project called Maximum Information Repost for Community Development, in fact, dealt with a repost only in the title. We did not repost someone’s messages; we searched and found ways of the journalists’ work to help some people find answers to important questions, and others to find solutions to problems that they had not been able to solve on their own for years. All thanks to the work of journalists and, of course, the Vpered publication. We are excited to share a recipe for how publications can bring value to their community.

Over the years, since the journalists and typographers of our rural area created a team, universal for the local level, they were forced to go through many difficulties. However, along the way, looking for solutions to overcome the issues, we did not lose our printed publication, dear to several generations of our compatriots—the Vpered newspaper.

This is because the newspaper has been and is the central goal in the activities of the staff of the PE Publishing House of the Vpered Newspaper. Why and how is it possible to combine the traditional print media for local communities with the lightning-fast spread of digital technologies in the information and communications sphere?

Implementing the Maximum Information Repost for Community Development project, in addition to solving problems on topics, we researched and searched for answers to the matter of the life stability of our 93-year-old newspaper Vpered, in a difficult, unexpected time of war.

The authority test

It is not difficult to find an issue that journalists should deal with because there are many of them (problems) today.
For our project, we chose a broad topic: the development of communities through the revival of the labor market under martial law. But when we worked out our tasks together with the coordinators from the Ukrainian Media Business Association—Oleksii Pohorielov, Olha Serhienko, and Kateryna Kostak (their help in reflections is invaluable), clear benchmarks were outlined.
Indeed, everything is simple: to help find someone for a jobseeker, an entrepreneur who is looking for an employee with the right specialty. To accomplish this, clear explanations to the population are necessary, including that official work is a source of personal and public benefits (because this is the foundation of the future pension and the current budget of the community), and, of course, to become a platform for communication between business and government.

When everything fell into place in the project proposal, and to the great joy of the editorial board, it was decided by the donor to provide a grant to implement the project, it became clear that from this moment on, the tests for the authority of our publication and ourselves, as journalists, began because we engaged official representatives of public authorities, who acted according to certain rules under martial law, to join us as partners. Will they be comfortable cooperating with us in a transparent manner? Will they dare to act openly?

All these questions were answered at the first roundtable in the editorial office. Let me emphasize: it took place with a 100% turnout of invited officials and specialists: from the Bashtanka branch of the Mykolaiv Regional Employment Center; the Southern Interregional Department of the State Labor Service; the Novyi Buh State Tax Inspectorate of the Main Directorate in Mykolaiv Oblast; Service Center No.10 of the Main Directorate of the Pension Fund of Ukraine in Mykolaiv Oblast; and the Department for Investment Projects and Socio-Economic Development of the Novyi Buh City Council.

Kick-off event: journalists invited representatives of the services—project partners—to the roundtable meeting.

As it turned out, these services had a clear priority: conveying a lot of useful information to citizens, reaching community and business leaders, and offering cooperation with the state. Therefore, in fact, together with partners, we had one goal—to activate the labor market and channel it into a civilized direction.

At the end of the meeting, journalists wrote down specific facts, addresses of experience, unresolved problems in their notebooks, and immediately began to write materials.

In the future, within the framework of the project, we gathered representatives of the city council and business for a meeting and held two more similar discussions in the field: at the Viktoria agricultural enterprise and at the large processing Lux Oil enterprise.

A meeting with the head, specialists, and mechanization experts of the Viktoria Private-Rental Enterprise. The topic of discussion was the search for and training of mechanization personnel in wartime.

Together with the Employment Service, we held a presentation of vacancies for internally displaced persons throughout Ukraine, where there were housing, food conditions, and decent wages.

Important moments from all meetings were recorded and covered in the newspaper and on the digital platform. In this way, useful information was conveyed to a much wider audience.

Feeling how much we, the journalists, are needed really inspires us to act bolder.

“Hopeless” vacancies? There is no such thing!

Our project was supposed to strengthen the digital platform of the print edition. It did happen. Maybe not as much as we were expected to, but we have made a start and have a desire to develop.

Helping the protagonists of our publications to find solutions to their problems, we searched for new forms of work: communication, ways of presenting materials in the printed edition and on social networks, learned how to announce newspaper publications effectively on our Facebook page, and watched online how it added to our popularity.

The most indicative for us was the search for candidates for hopeless vacancies. For example, there was a lack of chemists.
As soon as the first publications regarding employment were out, Svitlana Lohinova, the head of the laboratory of the Novyi Buh district of the regional office of water resources in Mykolaiv Oblast, called the editorial office and timidly said, “Maybe you could really help us find scarce personnel if you write in the newspaper…”

“Let’s try!” We said.

We carefully prepared a concise and clear notice in the newspaper and decided to post it on Facebook as well. It was like a small information campaign… to reach the masses. We were looking for two narrow specialists with higher education for the positions of engineers: a chemist and a bacteriologist.

So, what was the result? A few days later, the laboratory called, and a cheerful voice said:
We have found a chemical engineer! We were looking for this person for more than a year! The specialist is already working!

Representatives of small businesses of the Novyi Buh hromada visiting the editorial office.

Meanwhile, we were hoping to find a chemistry teacher for the Vilne Zaporizhzhia Lyceum. The hopes were not in vain. In September, Larysa Dudiuk, the principal, was pleased to report:

“Finally! The chemistry and physics teacher is already giving lessons. Thank you!”

We remembered that the principal asked to mention that a teacher would be provided with a modular house to live in, but Vilne Zaporizhzhia village head Oleksandr Latii called the editorial office and anxiously asked:

“A modular house? For a teacher? Have you even seen the kind of temporary housing this is? We’ll find the teacher a better place to stay!”

But we look back this reproach with warm heart.

A quality description and good communication with the community are two components of how we help the community solve difficult problems.

When the time came to report on the results of activities under our project, we decided to compare our employment figures with the reports of the Employment Center.

“Will there be an interview in the newspaper?” Tetiana Babych, the head of the Novyi Buh department, asked immediately.
We didn’t want to disappoint her, so we said yes. We didn’t regret it.

And on September 7, an interview was published on the first page with the title Staffing of the Declared Vacancies by 100 Percent Is Real.

Of course, we thanked our partners for their cooperation, and they thanked us for our help and our joint positive result.

A business conversation between journalists and Anastasiia Bezrodna, Head of the Personnel Department of Lux Oil PE.
Building a bridge between the community and the authorities is not an easy task

To complete the topic of the overall results of the implemented project, let us mention the main digital data, such as:

– with their activities, journalists contributed to eight people receiving state vouchers for retraining and employment in a new profession;
– we helped to officially employ more than 60 people;
– more than 100 citizens were engaged in socially useful work under martial law;
– more than 30 citizens concluded contracts for community service.

According to local experts, this is a good result.

But what was the hardest? What haven’t we fulfilled?

The editorial board set itself a task, which it wrote down as follows: “Time requires joint actions of the authorities, business, and the community.” Both during meetings and during individual interviews, everyone agreed that it was necessary for business to create a center—a council or other formation, so that through it, there was a constant connection with local self-government bodies.

Anna Lutsenko, the Head of the Department for Investment Projects and Socio-Economic Development of the Novyi Buh community, is answering the questions of journalists.

Everyone agreed with this, but immediately added the phrase: “…after the end of the war, now is not the time…” However, the public is mostly of a different opinion and says that “it is high time.”

There are many problems in the community, and the majority should be solved now, not after the war. Therefore, we will study, investigate, create conditions for communication in our media, and help the community continue solving important issues to people, coping with their problems.

This was confirmed by dramatic discussions on social networks regarding the comfort of living, for example, the lack of an equipped public toilet in the city center, differences in assessments of the authorities’ actions on laying pedestrian paths during the war and lighting city streets, putting the landfill area in order, and much more.

During the project, we took only initial steps in these matters. But we did take them. We will study, investigate, create conditions for communication in our media, and help the community continue solving important issues to people, coping with their problems.
Undoubtedly, our micro-project called Maximum Information Repost for Novyi Buh Communities Development would be almost impossible to implement, but for the grant of foreign donors and the solidarity support of the Ukrainian Media Business Association. This is because the war cut off almost all sources of income for the local print media. Most editorial offices in Mykolaiv Oblast have ceased to operate for a reason. Ours survived because it took advantage of the opportunities provided by international support. It’s an honest self-assessment.


Yevhenii LOHINOV, director and head of the editorial board of the Vpered newspaper.
Liudmyla ZUBOVA-KULCHYTSKA, journalist and head of the Maximum Information Repost for Novyi Buh Communities Development project.

The publication was prepared with the financial support of the European Union. Its content is the sole responsibility of the Ukrainian  Media Business Association and does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Union.