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Global campaign to fund Ukrainian public radio ends tomorrow

An international crowdfunding campaign to fund Hromadske Radio, a public radio station providing independent political news in Ukraine, will end tomorrow.

The Indiegogo campaign, whose goal is to raise $16,500 to support independent political news in Ukraine, started on Feb. 18 and ends on March 12 at 11:59 p.m. As of Tuesday afternoon, the organization has raised $14,601.

The funds would cover a year's worth of salaries — $15,000 — for journalists to make four political podcasts. The rest would cover various fees associated with Indiegogo and PayPal. The podcasts would consist of immediate reactions to breaking news, interviews with Ukraine's premier politicians, journalists discussing the events of the week and a review of key investigative reporting of the week.

A group of professional broadcasting journalists in Ukraine started Hromadske Radio, or Public Radio in the Ukrainian language, to establish an independent public radio. The initiative succeeds the former Hromadske Radio, which ran from 2002 to 2005.

Dora Chomiak, 44, a Ukrainian-American who has lived in New York City since the mid-1990s, co-founded the International Media Center in the early 1990s with a group of professional broadcast journalists in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, to help media organizations come to fruition.

The radio station started a campaign through a Ukrainian crowdfunding platform with the goal of raising 60,000 hryvnia, or $6,000, in 60 days. They raised almost 86,000 hryvnia. After witnessing the success of the Ukrainian campaign, Chomiak was inspired to start a campaign abroad.

For the past three months, Ukrainians have been protesting peacefully against corruption and for a stable democracy but most news sources are funded by the government as well as commercial and political interests, Chomiak wrote on the campaign's official page.

"Public radio is one of those organizations that's providing the kind of reporting and information people need in order to have a functioning democracy. So I thought, 'Where can I apply my skills and capabilities in a way that will have a national impact?" said Chomiak, founder and partner of Inflection Point Strategy, a boutique advisory firm that helps organizations develop digital marketing and product strategies.

In December, the radio station was offered airtime on a local FM radio channel and started doing hours of broadcasts. When the violence broke out in Ukraine as a result of the popular uprising against the Russian-backed government of former president Viktor Yanukovych, they were no longer able to work at their original location.

After Yanukovych was impeached on Feb. 22, Ukraine's national radio channel approached Hromadske Radio about doing a live show on the national frequency. They now broadcast over the national frequency from Monday to Friday for two hours a day.

The fact that 149 different individuals contributed to the campaign only further guarantees the authenticity of the initiative, Chomiak added.

“This means that the journalists who are creating the shows are accountable to 149 people and that’s a fantastic guarantee that the reporting they do will be as objective as possible,” she said.

On Tuesday, ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych accused the United States of helping the current government and warned of an imminent civil war, The Washington Post reported.

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