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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 December, 2004, 18:00 GMT
Questions of balance in Ukraine
By Pete Clifton
Editor of BBC News Interactive

The BBC's coverage of recent events in Ukraine has drawn some complaints that the reporting has focused too heavily on the opposition to the poll result, rather than those supporting the outcome. Pete Clifton explains the approach on the BBC News website.

Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko
Yanukovych and Yushchenko: Two Viktors but only one will win

Our objective has been to approach the story in Ukraine in the same way as any other event - to ensure our coverage is up-to-the-minute, accurate and balanced, along with background features to provide context and a platform for comments from our many readers.

In the early days of the protests a lot of the focus was on Kiev - it's the capital, the seat of power, the location of huge demonstrations and the place where many journalists were congregating.

I think our coverage reflected that the majority of the protests in Kiev were against Viktor Yanukovych's victory and this remains one of the themes.

It is the easiest part of the story to tell, but we have strived to push our reporting beyond this anti-government line.

From the start, we were reflecting comments from our readers in Ukraine, and those with strong connections with the country, pointing out that in some regions the result had been welcomed enthusiastically.

'Mirror image'

We also carried this piece from Lina Kushch in Donetsk, Donetsk rallies around its man, where the scenes were the "mirror image" of those in Kiev, with people celebrating the victory of Mr Yanukovych.

Opposition supporters in Kiev
The orange-clad supporters of the Ukrainian opposition

We have also been able to reflect the differing views of the region's media, thanks to our colleagues at BBC Monitoring, Press elation and alarm at Ukraine events, and the view from Moscow, Ukraine crisis exposes Putin's plans.

It is also important that the website helps readers understand the background to the events. And here we are luckier than TV and radio in that we have infinite space to devote to this.

Our regional expert Stephen Mulvey has provided a range of analysis, including Divided Ukraine, a fascinating look at the history of the country and its language, religion, culture and politics.

The BBC News website will quite often rely on TV and radio correspondents to provide eye witness pieces and analysis from major events abroad, but sometimes we send our own journalist to do the reporting.

We felt it was more than justified on this occasion and, after providing a range of material from our newsroom in London, we decided to send Stephen to Ukraine to give us a better flavour of events on the ground.

I believe this has really paid dividends, with Stephen providing daily reports, analysis and interviews with the local people.

Yes, he is based in Kiev, but many of the key events are happening there.

Range of opinion

We have continued to reflect that some of the protests in the capital and elsewhere are in favour of Mr Yanukovych, and our "Have Your Say" pages carry a wide range of opinion from Ukraine and elsewhere.

We will also hopefully be sending Stephen on to Donetsk in the next few days, and we have just started asking our readers to send specific questions to Stephen about the crisis - so you can challenge him direct if you wish! - Ukraine crisis: Ask an expert.

So I think our coverage of events in Ukraine has been responsible.

There was perhaps a tendency to focus on the mass demonstrations in Kiev in the early days, but events in the capital have been the heart of the story.

Overall, I believe we have tried hard to paint a broader picture.


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