The KyivPost Paywall announcement
Russia is widely regarded as the world’s best country that does Information Warfare.
I won’t even guess who is #2, it certainly is not the United States.
It certainly is not Ukraine, either, and let me tell you why I believe such a statement is true. This clearly flies in the face of a very large effort by a large number of people in Ukraine and supporters around the world.
KyivPost.com is behind a paywall.
Shortly after then-President Yanukovych quit and fled to Russia, at the end of February, Kyivpost.com put up a paywall on many of the articles dealing with Russia and Ukraine.
I recently corresponded with Brian Bonner, Kyiv Post Chief Editor. He said:
Regrettably, much of the Kremlin media are state funded. We don’t have such vast resources. We are a private newspaper with an affiliated nongovernmental organization.
To survive, we need to sell advertising and subscriptions — simple as that — and those include online subscriptions, like many other newspapers.
This makes sense, plain and simple. The KyivPost has to pay reporters, editors, webpage gurus – everything and everybody that is needed to run a newspaper as well as online content.
Except this is the central source for news for Ukraine, who happens to have been in the first real information war (plus now a conventional war) in the world. Here we had a war of words, where the reality on the ground was not the reality in the Russian media. We had Russia attempting to manipulate Ukraine in the Maidan using GRU and Spetsnaz and a corrupt government. We had “polite green men” in Crimea, we had the occupation of Crimea by what turned out to be Russian Naval Infantry. We had Russia protecting the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine. We had Russian “volunteers” occupying governmental buildings in East Ukraine, to protect ethnic Russians. We have Ukrainians labeled punishers, Neo-Nazis, fascists. Ukrainians are accused of horrendous violations of human rights, atrocities, war crimes and even shooting down a passenger jet – by the Russian media. Every bit of Russian news about Ukraine seems to be saturated, just dripping, with very strongly biased anti-Ukraine pieces. …and KyivPost.com puts up a paywall.
Truth be told, another quote from Brian Bonner: “a good share of our content remains free — opinions, special-projects stories, multimedia, etc.”
So why didn’t the government of Ukraine think about subsidizing the KyivPost.com? Ukraine’s number one newspaper, the place where the world is going to look for information first, and the world is barred from reading the truth?
If that is not bad enough, why isn’t the US government helping the KyivPost? It’s a pittance, compared with what is spent fighting ISIS, the war in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.
So, now I ask, why is it the same for the Washington Post and The New York Times? At those two newspapers, online, we can get 10 free articles, but anyone tracking the situation in Ukraine is going to read at least one article every day in the Washington Post, so at least 15 articles are not going to be read by the average user after they reach that 10 article limit. That is a failure on the part of the US government to encourage an information flow to interested readers. That is, in part, why the US is losing the information war. Please don’t forget that information is one of the four elements of national power, as taught at every senior service school in the US.
President Obama, why don’t you donate the cost of one vacation to Ukraine and ensure KyivPost.com is available to everyone? Cut out one F-35 and you can subsidize the KyivPost for a decade, maybe two. Cut out the farmer’s subsidy for hemp production and you can pay for the KyivPost for even longer.
And while you’re at it, let’s write a national information strategy.