Kyiv Post

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Kyiv Post Logo.jpg
Web address KyivPost.com
Slogan Independence. Community. Trust.
Commercial? Yes
Type of site News
Registration Not required
Available in English
Owner Mohammad Zahoor, operating as Public Media
Launched October 1, 1995; 18 years ago (1995-10-01)[1][2]
Alexa rank positive decrease 13,211 (April 2014)[3]
Current status News media

The Kyiv Post is Ukraine's English-language newspaper.[4]

History[edit]

The Kyiv Post weekly newspaper was founded in October 1995 by American Jed Sunden, who created KP Media.[5] The newspaper, which went online in 2002, serves Ukrainian and expatriate readers with a general interest mix of political, business and entertainment coverage. The staff is a team of Western and Ukrainian journalists, numbering 19 editorial team members as of July 2014, including 16 Ukrainians.

Historically, the editorial policy has supported democracy, Western integration and free markets for Ukraine. It has published numerous investigative stories, including coverage of the 2000 murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze, in which ex-Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma is a prime suspect; the 2004 Orange Revolution, in which a massive public uprising blocked Viktor Yanukovych from taking power as president after the rigged presidential election of Nov. 26, 2004; and political corruption.

Ownership[edit]

The Kyiv Post has only had two owners in its existence, Sunden and British citizen Mohammad Zahoor. Sunden's KP Media sold the newspaper to British citizen Zahoor on July 28, 2009.[6] Zahoor owns the ISTIL Group and is a native of Pakistan and a former steel mill owner in Donetsk.[7] Zahoor publishes the newspaper through his Public Media company. In an interview with the Kyiv Post published on Aug. 6, 2009, Zahoor pledged to revive the newspaper and adhere to its tradition of editorial independence.[8]

Sunden created the newspaper in the early years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, starting with $18,000 in capital and working from a small flat in Kyiv. He built the newspaper into a profitable enterprise, one that served the needs of the expatriate community that then regarded Ukraine as a potential hotspot for investment. During Sunden's tenure, he held to libertarian and anti-Communist views on the editorial and opinion pages, but established the business model of editorial independence on the news pages. He said the policy is good for business and news. Sunden also was controversial for allowing paid "massage" advertisements from women engaging in prostitution.

After Zahoor bought the newspaper, he retained the entire editorial team. One of his first acts as publisher, however, was to eliminate the paid "massage" advertisements, saying he didn't want to own a newspaper that promoted prostitution. Zahoor sustained the policy of editorial independence, with limited exceptions. After the newspaper's editors endorsed Yulia Tymoshenko over Viktor Yanukovych for president in the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election, the publisher issued a policy to forbid editorial endorsements of any political candidate or political party, saying the newspaper should remain non-partisan even on its opinion pages. Zahoor relaxed the policy during the May 25, 2014 presidential election, when he and his wife, singer-actress Kamaliya, came out publicly in strong support of billionaire Ukrainian businessman Petro Poroshenko's election as president. While the newspaper was free to endorse any candidate for the election, its editorial board made no endorsement in the contest that Poroshenko easily won.

Zahoor's purchase and significant investment improved a newspaper that had been badly battered by the global recession of 2008-2009, a sharp downturn that struck the Kyiv Post hard in October–November 2008. The Kyiv Post lost advertising and cut costs, ending the year in the black, the last profitable year of its existence. Under the last months under Sunden in 2009, the newspaper's editorial staff shrunk to 12 members, its page count to 16 and its print distribution to 11,000 copies.

Zahoor invested in journalists, increased distribution, improved newsprint and boosted the page count—to 32 pages through much of 2010-2011, dropping back to 24 pages again through much of 2012-2013 and then 16 pages in the first months of 2014. However, despite the investments, the Kyiv Post never regained consistent profitability, despite further cost cuts as print advertising continued to shrink, especially in the once all-important sector of employment advertising.

Chief editors and chief executive officers[edit]

The Kyiv Post has had at least 13 chief editors since its first edition on Oct. 18, 1995. The first editor was Andrea Faiad. She was followed by Igor Greenwald, Askold Krushelnycky, Tom Warner, Greg Bloom, Diana Elliott, Andrey Slivka, Roman Olearchyk, Scott Lewis, John Marone, Stepan Ladanaj and Jakub Parusinski.

The longest-serving chief editor is Brian Bonner, an American citizen who became the editor in the summer of 1999 and returned on June 9, 2008. He continues to serve as chief editor today. Bonner is a veteran American journalist who spent most of his professional life with the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota, where he covered international, national and local news during a nearly 24-year career in which he was a staff writer and an assigning editor. He substituted several times in the former Knight Ridder newspaper chain in the Moscow bureau from 2000-2006. For American newspapers, he has reported from abroad in Russia, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Laos. Bonner left the St. Paul newspaper in 2007 to become the associate director of international communications at the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington, D.C. He also worked as a member of the core teams with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe during six election observation missions in Ukraine, Belarus, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan from 1999 to 2013.

Bonner's tenure was interrupted briefly twice. The first came on April 15, 2011, when publisher Mohammad Zahoor fired him for publishing an interview with then-Agriculture Minister Mykola Prysazhnyuk, who is currently on Ukraine's wanted list on suspicion of massive corruption. The 2011 interview with Prysazhnyuk included the agricultural minister's contradictory explanations about who is behind KlibInvestBud, a mystery company which sought to monopolize Ukrainian grain exports. The front-page story was headlined "On The Hot Seat" and published on April 15, 2011. Bonner's firing lasted only five days, after the entire staff went on strike in support of his decision to publish the article. On April 18 in Kyiv, a group of visiting U.S. senators—including Jon Kyl, Jeff Sessions, Mike Crapo and Ron Johnson—met with Bonner and the Kyiv Post staff and issued a statement of support: "The delegation also met with the senior editorial staff of the Kyiv Post and were briefed on recent developments that led to the firing of chief editor Brian Bonner and the subsequent strike by most of the Kyiv Post staff. They have expressed their serious concern to the government that Bonner’s firing undercuts the freedom of the press. A vibrant, unfettered press is critical to the success of democracy." Zahoor changed his mind and reinstated Bonner as senior editor on April 20, 2011, elevating him to chief editor again later in the year. The incident garnered international attention as a barometer of the state of freedom of the press in Ukraine. One example of the news coverage included a story from The New York Times on April 24, 2011 headlined: "English-language press flexing its muscles in Eastern Europe."

Zahoor also fired Bonner as chief editor a second time on April 30, 2014, as the newspaper underwent deep budget cuts, but reinstated him on Sept. 1, 2014. He remains chief editor.

Parusinski, hired by Bonner as a business reporter in 2011 and later promoted to lifestyle editor, served as chief editor for four months during Bonner's absence from May 1, 2014, to Sept. 1, 2014. Zahoor promoted Parusinski to chief executive officer on Sept. 1, 2013, replacing J. Michael Willard, who had held the post since July 2011. During founder Sunden's ownership of the Kyiv Post from 1995 to 2009, Sunden effectively served as chief executive officer in addition to publisher.

After Zahoor's purchase on July 28, 2009, he has had four chief executive officers, including American James Phillipoff (July 2009-July 2011), Willard (July 2011-August 2013) and Parusinski (September 2013-August 2014). Nataliya Bugayova, the former chief of staff to Economy Minister Pavel Sheremeta, was named chief executive officer starting on Aug. 1, 2014. She becomes the first Ukrainian and first woman to be chief executive officer of the Kyiv Post. She holds a master's in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and previously worked in Ukraine as program manager at the Foundation for Effective Governance, where she started the Impact Media training program for journalism professionals.

EuroMaidan Revolution and Russia's war against Ukraine[edit]

In the last year, the Kyiv Post was one of the first newspapers on the scene to cover what became known as the EuroMaidan Revolution, which began on Nov. 21, triggered by then-President Viktor Yanukovych's backtracking on promises to sign a political and economic association agreement with the European Union. The newspaper provided on-the-scene coverage of the revolution's key moments, including the violent police crackdown on Independence Square on Nov. 30, 2013, the first three shooting victims by police against demonstrators in January 2014 and the mass murder of more than 100 demonstrators on Feb. 18, 2014 and Feb. 20, 2014. Kyiv Post journalists were among the first on the scene at Yanukovych's billion-dollar Mezhyhirya estate after he fled power on Feb. 21, 2014. The Kyiv Post, in the following week, covered the installment of an interim government led by Oleksandr Turchynov as president and speaker of the Ukrainian parliament and Arseniy Yatsenyuk as prime minister. The Kyiv Post also was among the first newspapers on the scene for the Russian invasion of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula on Feb. 27, 2014, and subsequent annexation, including the March 16, 2014, bogus referendum, with on-the-scene reports. When Russia-backed separatist violence in Ukraine's eastern oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk, where 15 percent of Ukraine lives, the Kyiv Post correspondents filed more than 200 stories and were on the scene also in Moldova, Kherson Oblast, Odesa Oblast, Kharkiv Oblast and Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.

Awards and recognition[edit]

The Kyiv Post's longtime motto on its masthead is "Independence.Community. Trust," meant to underscore its commitment to high journalistic standards and ethical practices, in contrast to many Ukrainian news outlets where publishers and owners dictate editorial policy and advertising is disguised as news stories through the purchase of space known as "jeansa."

In 2014, the Kyiv Post journalistic staff won the University of Missouri Journalism School's prestigious Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism. The award will be given to chief editor Brian Bonner and deputy chief editor Katya Gorchinskaya at a ceremony at the journalism school in Columbia, Missouri, on Oct. 28, 2014.[9]

Also in 2014, Moscow-based AGT Communications Company released the findings of its survey from Nov. 21, 2013 to May 21, 2014, that found the Kyiv Post is the most-quoted Ukrainian source of news by American and European news organizations and the second-most quoted in Ukraine and Russia, after Russia's Kommersant. The findings were based on citations in Factiva, the Dow Jones research database.[10]

The Kyiv Post has also informally adopted two other mottos in recent years -- "The World's Window on Ukraine" and "Ukraine's Global Voice."

Website, paywall and social media[edit]

The Kyiv Post launched its website in 2002 under Sunden. In the first 10 years, the newspaper never got more than 11 million page views, which took place in 2010 under Zahoor's ownership. All of that changed in 2014, when website traffic increased substantially as an international audience sought news of the EuroMaidan Revolution, Russia's invasion and subsequent annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, and Kremlin-backed separatist violence throughout the southeast of Ukraine. Consequently, the Kyiv Post has averaged more than 5.5 million page views each month in 2014, for nearly 40 million page views in 2014 through July 27. Most online readership is from abroad. Readers from the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany are among the top visitors outside of Ukraine. The readership statistics can be found on Bigmir. Currently, the website is updated seven days a week, approximately 16 hours a day, and includes Kyiv Post exclusive content, news and photos from wire services and aggregated articles from other news sources about Ukraine.

The Kyiv Post launched an online paywall in March 2013 and currently has nearly 2,000 subscribers who pay $50 a year for an online subscription. The erection of the paywall became financially necessary because of the decline in print advertising in the newspaper industry generally, including at the Kyiv Post.[11] During times of intense national crisis, such as the EuroMaidan Revolution and Russia's current war against Ukraine, the Kyiv Post has relaxed its paywall and made its coverage available freely for a limited amount of time. The website currently provides many categories of stories for free, including its aggregated content, its opinions and editorials and its multimedia offerings, including video, cartoons and photo galleries.

The Kyiv Post's Twitter following has grown to more than 44,000 in 2014, while it operates two Facebook pages, including kyivpost.com with more than 14,000 fans and the Kyiv Post group with more than 7, 000 members.

Print circulation, distribution[edit]

The Kyiv Post's print circulation is currently 11,000 copies, down from a peak of 25,000 copies as recently as 2008. The Kyiv Post began selling corporate print subscriptions for delivery in 2011 as it seeks to replace its free delivery policy with paid subscriptions. Nonetheless, free copies of the printed newspaper - published on Fridays—are available in hundreds of locations mainly in central Kyiv, including hotels, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and business centers.

Ukrainian-Russian language website[edit]

The Kyiv Post launched a Ukrainian-Russian-language version of the paper in July 2010 to reach a mass audience, but discontinued the project in May 2012. During this period, the editorial staff reached a record high of 30 members.

Special projects and advertising management[edit]

Kyiv Post special projects cover four different areas of operation: Kyiv Post Events, Kyiv Post Supplements, Kyiv Post Employment Fair, and Kyiv Post Marketing Services.

Kyiv Post Events, the conference sub-unit of Kyiv Post Projects, organizes thought-provoking events, translating the qualities of editorial coverage into debates. They give senior executives insights into strategic issues. Kyiv Post conferences define important issues and recommend actionable policy initiatives. The events bring senior executives together with influential policymakers and experts to discuss opportunities and challenges for the business community in conferences. They also provide a setting for interactive discussions and debates. Among others, the Kyiv Post has held two annual Tiger Conferences as signature events. The first one, in 2012, featured then-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and current Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko as keynote speakers. The second event, in December 2013, focused on Ukraine’s prospects after the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on Nov. 28-29, and how the country will be affected by the decision to sign or not to sign the association agreement with the European Union. The Kyiv Post also staged a spring Food Safety Conference, a roundtable focused on challenges regarding Intellectual Property Rights and more recently, in early 2014, a conference co-sponsored by Lavrynovych & Partners law firm on Ukraine's economic future.

Kyiv Post Supplements focuses on special editions and other editorial projects by the Kyiv Post newsroom. Past projects include a Lifestyle Elite edition and a Special Euro 2012 edition. Current projects include an annual Wedding Supplement and a quarterly publication, Kyiv Post Legal Quarterly, which tackles the most salient issues for business from a legal perspective.

Kyiv Post Marketing Services offer support services to advertisers and other companies looking to maximize the efficiency and reach of the marketing budgets. These support services include copywriting, editing specialized texts, translations and design services.

Kyiv Post Employment Fair connects workers, mostly students, with employers who need their talent by organizing employment fairs twice a year, in June and September (in June 2014 the fair is cancelled due to unrest in Eastern Ukraine).

The Kyiv Post's sales team was led by Ukrainians Yuriy Timonin from 2007-2011, Yevgenia Baranska from 2011-2013 and by Alyona Nevmerzytska since February 2014.

Threats to its existence[edit]

The Kyiv Post has withstood numerous threats to its existence periodically since 1995. According to the audiotapes released by Mykola Melnychenko, bodyguard to ex-President Leonid Kuchma, then-tax inspector Mykola Azarov talked about conducting tax audits of the newspaper and other news outlets that criticized the administration. Azarov went on to become prime minister under President Viktor Yanukovych. He has since fled abroad and is now on Ukraine's wanted list on suspicion of massive corruption.

During the Yanukovych administration, the Kyiv Post faced and overcame three political threats to its survival during the administration of President Viktor Yanukovcyh (Feb. 27, 2010 - Feb. 22, 2014).

The first came when Ukrainian billionaire oligarch Dmytro Firtash filed a libel lawsuit against the Kyiv Post in the United Kingdom over a July 2, 2010 story about corruption in the gas trade industry.[12] One Dec. 14, 2010, the Kyiv Post began blocking all internet traffic from the United Kingdom (UK) as a protest against English defamation law.[13] Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtash had started a libel lawsuit against Kyiv Post in the United Kingdom at the time. The case was dismissed on Feb. 24, 2011 because the United Kingdom court believed Firtash had no major connection with the country.[14] and [15] The U.K. block was dropped later that year.

The second threat came in the form of sustained, but indirect, pressure on the Kyiv Post to soften its news coverage of Yanukovych. The threat came to a head on April 15, 2011, when Zahoor fired Bonner for publishing an interview with a government minister despite the owner’s request to drop it, allegedly under pressure from government officials Journalists on the paper went on strike in protest. Zahoor reinstated Bonner as an editor on April 20, 2011, ending the strike. The weekly newspaper never missed a print issue during the work stoppage and Bonner, who has served as chief editor since June 2008, remained on the job until April 30, 2013.[16] However there was controversy after Bonner's reinstatement, when two journalists who did not sign the petition in support of him left the newspaper. Bonner did not provide a reason for their departures, with sources indicating it was due to the two withholding their endorsement of him.[17]

The third threat came in the form of at least two offers to buy the newspaper from businessmen close to Yanukovych. Zahoor refused both offers, citing his desire to keep the newspaper editorially independent.

However, the biggest threat may be economic, not political. Many Central and Eastern European English-language newspapers, including the Prague Post and Sofia Echo, have ceased their print publications in light of falling advertising demand and changing readership patterns online. America media analyst Ken Doctor chronicled the Kyiv Post's challenges in an April 17, 2014, article headlined: "The Newsonomics of the Kyiv Post's Embattled Work"

Investigative journalism and non-profit Media Development Foundation[edit]

The Kyiv Post is also a center for investigative journalism. Bonner, besides serving as chief editor, is also regional coordinator of the Objective investigative journalism program funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Stories are published at mymedia.org.ua and other news outlets. Kyiv Post staff writer Vlad Lavrov, meanwhile, is the regional coordinator for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, whose donors including the U.S. Agency for International Development.

A group of Kyiv Post journalists in 2014 launched the Media Development Foundation, a nongovernmental organization formed to support the journalism profession in three ways that are typically not commercially viable. Those include: 1. investigative journalism; 2. student journalism internship exchanges; and 3. training programs for experienced professionals.

References[edit]

External links[edit]