Mediacenter in Terebovlyanska CC: What is So Unique About It?

In the process of decentralization reform in Ukraine, small communities increasingly felt they should be treated not as provinces of big cities, but as strong and capable communities one would like to live in, and develop their own talents and plans, as various spheres started to evolve. In addition, time came to concentrate attention on local members: their daily successes and needs. According to Ilona Kozar, mediacenter manager, “local community mediacenters should actively perform this role, to keep everyone informed about life in the community, allow active residents to convene, to make theme events and discuss business presentations. Moreover, local media people would have access to space premises to cooperate, to write, to make photos, to shoot videos, to share information about their own community, helping to form positive images and wider recognition.”

In Terebovlyanska community the mediacenter as the public information and online platform started operating seven years ago. Its team posted news updates on the local website and social media, but  content was limited to irregular reports and event live streaming that was not of good quality.

In 2017 Terebovlyanska consolidated community (CC) joined other CCs participating in the USAID “Decentralization Offering Better Results and Efficiency” (DOBRE) Program. Together with DOBRE specialists, they developed the Local Economic Development Program. In result of cooperation with the community, they implemented the project “Mediacenter Development and Co-working Space Establishment in Terebovlya town.” The project goals responded to the needs of the CC members: 1) to support local existing business, including the one in media sphere; 2) to stimulate entrepreneurship; 3) to improve communication among the civil society organization, local governance, business and CC residents.

In 2019, CC partners registered the civil society organization with the same name. With USAID DOBRE Program support, the mediacenter upgraded its premises with new furniture, studio photo equipment (laptop, plasma TV panel, mikes, professional video camera for live streaming and video shooting on the event spot). The created co-working space received new furniture too (link in UA).

Prior to the official mediacenter opening ceremony, its team participated in the study tour to Kyiv. They visited studios of Ukraine central TV channels, and learned from the experience of peer journalists, media managers, technical specialists. Those technical aspects related to live streaming specifics, and upon return to Terebovlya, they managed to implement in the actual work at the mediacenter.    

According to Taras Babiy, study tour participant: “It seems like in our small town we made something unreal and even more than we originally could. I refer to our “public televiewing in the online format.” We learn from every program aired and enjoy the results. We plan to improve more and share our experience with youth. I remember our tour while visiting central TV channels of Ukraine before the official opening of the Mediacenter. The inspiration for work was enormous and bigger was the realization of how to implement technically, what we had thought of. I am thankful to DOBRE Program for helping organize the tour.” (link).

Today, the mediacenter works in numerous dimensions:

According to Marta Smilnytska, the “Divochi Posydenky” project coordinator: “Similar training events, for a long time, I had visited in different cities in Ukraine. Then one day, I realized that it was worthwhile organizing the same activity in my home community. I am happy that in Terebovlya we have such well-equipped space, as I feel there I can create the same comfortable, well thought through image promoting activity; adding key ideas in the presentation, and coffee for ladies. To be honest, due  to the lack of an ideal place, my idea that helps engage community women could have never become a reality.”

  • Co-working: daily meetings with those interested in the media field, and local entrepreneurs who need tips and tricks in applying online tools. 

According to Bohdan Kulikovsky, a surgeon who leads healthcare programs: “I joined the mediacenter team with a vision of high importance to raise CC residents’ awareness on medical care and healthy lifestyle. Since I am an interning surgeon in a Rayon clinic, the role of the program moderator feels convenient and I would like to grow in this sphere too. It’s cool that this opportunity exists in my hometown.”

During the COVID-19 quarantine, the mediacenter team carried out work in the ways most helpful for the community. There were opportunities provided to perform live streaming for distance learning for high school students (click here for a lesson sample.) The mediacenter team also produced and conducted online tours for communal entity of Tourism and Information Center (click here for an online tour of  the local town hall.) The true support for local entrepreneurs was the Facebook group community: encouraging those who had never made any advertisements before posted theirs here. Business people took photos of the advertised goods (i.e. food products, clothing, seedling, and construction materials), made descriptions of those and responded to potential buyers’ questions, and organized safe delivery services.

The subscribers’ activity in the online group has tripled in quantity under the lockdown. Below are some of their thoughts shared:  

Natalia Pidperigora, entrepreneur – owner of the first beauty salon in Terebovlya: “I have been working for many years and got used to talking a lot about the results. This year I realized that the time has come to learn how to present myself with my own business, and share the services available. After very constructive consultation support at the mediacenter I started thinking about the quality of the content shared; I started learning programs of mobile post-production, and I agreed to professional photo shooting of the beauty salon premises. Also, I have starred in the program “In Search of Beauty” the Mediacenter team was shooting. I was impressed by the number of people who watched the interview and the increased interest to my business in the beauty care sphere.”

Liudmyla Zdyr, blogger: “I am a nurse and am currently on maternity leave. I have used the lockdown time to learn skills in the field of Instagram marketing. I have started my own blog. In the spring I met with the mediacenter team and agreed to become a hostess for the program showcasing beauty care business. At the stage of development there has been my project “Insta-brunch. This event will be at the mediacenter  for those who plan to seed plant their blog and business on Instagram.”

Moreover, mediacenter specialists shared with other communities their experience for creating and efficiently moderating such local platforms in Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Latvia during the international online conference “Reviving Local Economies,” supported by USAID DOBRE (link).

According to Ilona Kozar, project author and mediacenter manager. “We have found ourselves in that time when online sources have become the fastest and most successful mechanism for informing and engaging. It works out that our services anyone can receive, anyone who reads news, watches live streaming and promotional videos; those who read and publicize announcements in the online group that we moderate.”

In October 2020, the well-equipped mediacenter in Terebovlyanska CC will celebrate its first year. The project initiators are happy to state that they managed to apply every equipment tool available to perform a wide range of media activities. They formed the Center image as the public space: here local residents openly express their ideas and implement own small projects. Also, the mediacenter volunteer team is getting ready to shoot a new promotional video and professional photo session that would present their whole work. And they continue sharing their experience with Ternopil Oblast communities that either have created or plan to establish similar mediacenters. The team will introduce their new achievements soon.

This publication is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Global Communities and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

In the story, all links to the pages on social media, websites, newsfeed and promo-videos are in Ukrainian.