Tom Bell: UATV Is a Powerful Informational Resource About Ukraine

Photo from UATV

UATV is a powerful resource within the framework of a wider communication strategy that enables people around the world to learn more about the true situation in Ukraine, said UATV journalist, Tom Bell.

“The real purpose of Russian state propaganda targeting international audiences is not just to disseminate lies or disinformation, but also to divide opinion and sow fear and doubt into Western society. UATV strives for quality journalism, and only by backing up the facts and ensuring integrity, we can fight the Kremlin’s hybrid warfare. After all, a prosperous Ukraine is a failure for Russia.”

Bell, who is from Britain, first discovered Ukraine in 2009 as a university student in Kyiv. In his spare time, he loves to float on a kayak on the Dnipro, visit city cafes and sometimes cook borsch.

“After several years of studying economics, I decided that journalism is much more interesting.”

His interaction with Ukrainian news organizations began after the Revolution of Dignity.

“Prior to the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution, Ukraine’s presence and influence on the international stage was minimal. The mass anti-government protests in February that year, followed by Russia’s invasion of Crimea and Donbas in March and April, garnered global attention. Yet during this period, many reputable media brands merely repeated or rephrased the Kremlin’s narrative on Ukraine. A media outlet targeting the overseas market was urgently needed, not only to debunk outright lies or disinformation from Russian state-controlled media outlets, but to promote Ukraine itself, including the culture, history, technology and science and thriving startup environment.”

“Then in August 2014, I was part of the team which launched Ukraine Today (part of 1+1 group), the country’s first international news network. The project was hugely successful, but eventually ceased satellite broadcasting in April 2016. Several months later, I was lucky to be invited to help launch UATV’s English-language service. Since then, we’ve built a great, experienced team and built up a significant social media following, allowing us to help build ‘Brand Ukraine’ around the world.”

Bell remarks that one of the main tasks of UATV is the further production of high-quality content and the constant expansion of its audience.

“This multi-pronged approach includes expanding our audience online, reaching out to leaders and opinion makers, getting involved in event partnerships, taking on correspondents around the world. In particular, the Chinese market has huge potential, although it might be a while before my Mandarin is any good!”

Bell believes that media coverage on Ukraine has improved significantly since 2014, when armed Russian troops without insignia in Crimea caught Western journalists off guard.

“Terminology including ‘civil war’ and ‘Ukraine crisis’ are still occasionally used in the international press, although their appearances are becoming fewer and fewer. I think there is still a lack of overall coverage of contemporary Ukraine: the booming IT and agricultural sectors of the economy, the chic fashion industry, the picturesque places to visit, etc. UATV plays an important role in highlighting these highlights.  The real challenge lies in reaching a much bigger, broader audience with engaging, shareable, high-quality content: this is the only way to fight the Kremlin’s mammoth disinformation campaign in Europe.”

When asked about his thoughts on the general impression foreigners have when they visit Ukraine for the first time, Bell says that ” they are always pleasantly surprised.”

“Most arrive knowing very little about the country, but leave with a positive impression of Ukraine and people’s hospitality, and of course, they promise to watch UATV to keep up with the latest news!”