The Convergence Newsletter
The Convergence Newsletter

From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. X No. 3 (May 2013)

Convergence in Ukraine: How print newspapers are beginning to adapt

By Chris Winker

The growth of the Internet in the United States led to a great paradigm shift in the public's consumption of news. Not only did it lead to a greater abundance of information available, it offered journalists more tools to convey their message. Offering breaking news and multimedia platforms, online news sites exploded onto the media scene and started to limit the necessity of the print newspaper.

But in this country, that shift has essentially finished. What we saw 10 years ago is just starting to take place in other countries around the world, such as Ukraine, as Dr. Robert Bergland examines in this issue. Conducted in 2009, Dr. Bergland's research was a baseline study to measure the current state of multimedia for Ukrainian newspapers. At the time, Ukraine was well behind the rest of the world in terms of high-speed Internet access, limiting a site's capabilities. But as time passes by, and more residents gain access, the shift hasn't been as pronounced as in other countries.

Respond to Dr. Bergland's article at The Convergence Newsletter blog and at the newsletter's Facebook or Google+ pages. View the full archive of newsletters at

There will not be a June issue of The Convergence Newsletter. In addition to the usual open month of July, there will not be another issue until August.


Quick Glance Calendar (Details)

June 17-19: International Symposium on Language and Communication, Izmir, Turkey

June 17-21: International Communication Association, London

Sept. 12-15: Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium, Phoenix

Sept. 26-28: American Journalism Historians Association National Convention, New Orleans

Oct. 24-26: Beyond Convergence: Mobile, Social, and Virtual Media, Las Vegas

Oct. 28-29: International Conference on Journalism and Mass Communications, Phuket, Thailand


Featured Article

Multimedia and Interactive Features of Ukrainian Newspaper Websites
Dr. Robert Bergland, Missouri Western State University
Veronica Nagorna, Luts'k Liberal Arts University

Since the World Wide Web began 20 years ago, newspapers around the world have struggled with how to utilize this new technology, especially in countries such as Ukraine. In countries that are more technology-poor, like Ukraine, the move to convergent journalism is difficult because the number of people with computers and Internet access remains low, although it is rapidly rising. But Ukraine also has a rich history of online-only newspapers. The Web has helped journalists avoid costly and tightly regulated printing operations, and thus avoid the censorship or heavy influence of governmental or oligarchical ownership with a political bias. In the U.S. in 2000, there were almost no influential online-only newspapers, but by 2000 in Ukraine such publications as Ukrayinska Pravda were having an important impact on political discussions – important enough to scare politicians and ultimately lead to the murder of its founder.

Our goal was to describe the state of convergence on Ukrainian print newspaper websites in 2009 and provide a baseline for future studies. In the process, we hoped to encourage discussion within the country about how both Ukrainian newspapers and journalism education could, or should, evolve to accommodate multimedia and interactive technologies.


To decide what newspapers to analyze, we looked at several Internet directories, but chose the most comprehensive list, the 4International Media and Newspapers website [1] that lists 7,300 newspapers in 200 countries. After omitting duplicate and nonfunctioning sites, we had total of 43 newspapers with websites to analyze. Beginning with a matrix from studies of U.S., British, and Canadian newspapers we conducted earlier, we broke down our analysis into three main categories: multimedia (video, audio, photo galleries, etc.), interactivity (polls, blogs, etc.) and distribution (RSS feeds, mobile alerts, archives, PDFs, etc.).



We found a good percentage had interactive features and different methods of distribution, but not many had multimedia features – indeed, only one newspaper during the period we studied had its own video on its website. Seven had video produced by another organization, such as a local TV station. Only one of the 43 newspapers had audio.


Almost half of the newspaper sites allowed reader comments on articles, and 40 percent had forums allowing readers to have separate discussions. One-third had a link for readers to send a letter to the editor, with about the same proportion having an interactive poll (37 percent) and a function that showed the most read/most popular or recommended articles (35 percent). A couple of newspapers had blogs. Only one had a link or posted reporters' e-mail addresses so a reader could respond directly.


Almost nine in 10 newspapers had some sort of archive through a searchable database of stories, pages in PDF format, or both. RSS feeds were very popular (58 percent), as were e-mail digests (28 percent). One newspaper had a paywall and one had mobile phone alerts. Nearly three-fourths had banner advertising.


One challenge Ukrainian newspapers face is accommodating for multiple languages. Newspapers using only Ukrainian or only Russian were split, 40 and 42 percent respectively, with the other 18 percent having a combination of languages.

Comparison with other countries

These figures differ from many of the other countries studied. For example, the 2 percent of video on the Ukrainian newspaper websites studied in 2009 is much lower than the 65 percent found in a similar study of U.S. papers' sites conducted two years earlier, and the 85 percent in papers in Great Britain.[2] Similarly, audio was found on only one Ukrainian newspaper website, while roughly half of the U.S. dailies had audio. Photo galleries, which often have less download time and aren't as complex to produce, were twice as common: 70 percent among U.S. dailies and 35 percent in Ukraine. The interactive features, also less complex and time consuming, were not as far off the U.S. marks, especially reader polls (59 percent in the U.S. vs. 37 percent in Ukraine), comments sections (63 to 47 percent) and links to submit a letter to the editor (51 to 33 percent). As far as distribution features, while PDFs weren't nearly as common in Ukraine (9 percent), the Ukrainian newspapers didn't lag too far in categories such as archives, e-mail digests, and RSS feeds.

Comparison with Ukrainian online newspapers

Our list focused on print newspapers that had an online presence and excluded online-only news sites. The online-only sites, many of which have a national audience and focus, have recognized the need to add more features such as video to get more readers. For example, while only one print newspaper had its own self produced video, five of the online-only sites did:

Sport Express
Liga News


Clearly, while online-only sites are adding more video, the print newspaper websites in Ukraine lag many other Western newspapers, with the biggest difference coming in multimedia. These websites had not utilized the sound and video capabilities that the Web has to offer for three main reasons:

Broadband penetration

One of the biggest reasons the newspapers were not creating and publishing sound and video is the lack of high-speed Internet access in Ukraine. According to a 2008 study, Ukraine ranked last of the 52 European countries in Internet access, with 6.7 million people having access in their homes. That 14.6 percent penetration put Ukraine at the bottom, well below the 48.9 percent average in Europe.[3] Broadband stats are even more telling. While the U.S. had a 66 percent broadband penetration in 2008, the figure was 1.7 percent for Ukraine.[4] With little high-speed access, there was only a very small audience for audio and video packages the newspapers would produce and little motivation to expend time and money to produce them.


While the cost of audio and video hardware and software has decreased greatly in the past decade, many newspapers cannot afford the cameras, equipment, software, and computers needed to create multimedia. It is a large investment for reaching a small audience. And with the economy struggling and advertising revenues down, many newspapers have just been trying to survive. According to a Jan. 28, 2009, article in the Kyiv Post, media advertising faced a decline of 40 to 50 percent that year,[5] with predictions of many publications going out of business.


Many Ukrainian print newspapers do not have staffs trained in how to shoot, edit, and create interactive media packages. Just as there was a transition period for journalism in Ukraine after the collapse of the USSR, so too will there be a transition period with the new technological changes.

In the United States, university journalism programs are aiding that transition by producing graduates who have those skills. In Ukrainian universities, though:

1) Few journalism professors currently have multimedia skills.
2) The cost of audio-visual hardware and software is an obstacle not only for newspapers, but also for universities trying to add courses.
3) Universities in Ukraine, as in most of Europe, focus more on history and theory while giving students a broader education, rather than the "hands-on" approach.


Print newspapers around the world are struggling with the change to online journalism but perhaps this is no more evident than in Ukraine, which had to work through a transition to democracy in the past two decades in addition to economic struggles and technological obstacles. But since this study in 2009, Internet usage has dramatically increased, from the 14.6 percent penetration rate in 2008 to 34 percent in 2012, with a similar growth in home broadband penetration.[3] [6] As the number of people with Internet access grows, both the reasons for, and expectations of, having more multimedia has also no doubt grown. Another study of Ukrainian newspapers should be conducted in a few years, using this 2009 baseline study for comparison of how Internet journalism has changed.

[1] Newspaper in Ukraine by web ranking. (2012) Retrieved from (Return)

[2] Bergland, R. (2010). Multimedia and interactivity on newspaper websites. Retrieved from (Return)

[3] Internet users in Europe. (2012). Retrieved from (Return)

[4] Us drops to 19th in broadband penetration worldwide. (2008). Retrieved from (Return)

[5] Kyiv Post. (2009). Retrieved from (Return)

[6] Five trends in the Ukrainian telecom market in the crisis years. (2011). Retrieved from (Return)


Conferences, Training, and Calls for Papers (Return to top)

International Symposium on Language and Communication
Izmir, Turkey
June 17-19


International Communication Association
June 17-21


Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium
Sept. 12-15


American Journalism Historians Association 32nd National Convention
New Orleans
Sept. 26-28
Deadline to submit paper: May 15


Beyond Convergence: Mobile, Social, and Virtual Media
Las Vegas
Oct. 24-26
Deadline to submit paper: June 15


International Conference on Journalism and Mass Communications
Phuket, Thailand
Oct. 28-29


Job Listings

Penn State University: Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society
Send a letter describing qualifications, a resume outlining background and experience, and the names of three to five references to Marie Hardin at
Search continues until position is filled.

University of Missouri: Managing editor, Global Journalist
To apply, visit Interested applicants should attach a letter of interest, CV or resume, and three professional references.
Search continues until position is filled.


Publisher and Editorial Staff

The Convergence Newsletter is free and published by The College of Mass Communications and Information Studies at the University of South Carolina.

Executive Editor: Doug Fisher

Editor: Chris Winkler

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The Convergence Newsletter provides an editorially neutral forum for discussion of the theoretical and professional meaning of media convergence in all forms including technological, organizational, operational, psychological, and sociological. We welcome articles of all sorts and encourage those addressing the subject in new ways and with new perspectives. We also accept news briefs, book reviews, calls for papers and conference announcements. Our audience is both academic and professional; the publication style is AP for copy and APA for citations.

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