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This project was produced for the International School of Multimedia Journalism (ISMJ) at FHWien der WKW, University of Applied Sciences for Management & Communication.

Truth Under Fire

How to stay informed about the war?

Four people, two different sides: Olga and Anna from Ukraine, Christina and Olesia from Russia. They are in Austria now, but actively following the war in their home countries via different sources. Especially on social media it is difficult to distinguish real facts from propaganda and fake news. So how do they know what’s the truth?

Fake news

is considered to be a significant problem that faces global society and the way it functions. An impressive amount of attention has been given to this issue. This project attempts to highlight the role of fakes and disinformation in the modern world and the way it affects people’s opinions. Fake news are reports, articles, postings or videos with incorrect information, which are mostly spread on the Internet. This is particularly common in social media such as Facebook or Twitter. Most of the time, these are very lurid and exciting reports.

Media consumption in Austria

Nowadays people get information from different resources. Depending on them we can be easily manipulated by propaganda or misinformation. That is why we analyzed data about media consumption in Austria, Ukraine and Georgia for the comparison.

There is no comparable data for the countries available, but still similarities are visible. In all countries social media channels serve as one of the main news sources. This is an important point, since social media networks make it easier to spread fake news. Interesting to see is a low trust in media generally, e.g. in Georgia only 2% of the interviewed people are fully trusting the news.

I agree with being shown Datawrapper graphs.
I agree with being shown Datawrapper graphs.

Media consumption in Ukraine

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I agree with being shown Datawrapper graphs.

Media consumption in Georgia

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I agree with being shown Datawrapper graphs.


is from the Ukrainian city of Odesa. Before the war she was working in the aviation industry. After the war started she fled from Ukraine to Moldova firstly and then to Vienna. Currently she works as International Partnerships and Mobility Coordinator at the University of Applied Science for Management&Communication. Her husband still lives in Odesa.



is from Irpin, Ukraine. Before the war she was working as a Project Manager at the Austrian Cultural Forum in Kyiv. She fled to Vienna in March 2022 and now she is a part of the Federal Ministry Ukraine Team for European and International Affairs of Austria.


Most spread Russian propaganda

1. “Because of NATO’s aggressive expansion, Russia is now ‘encircled by enemies’ and needs to defend itself.”

The fact is that no country or alliance is plotting to invade Russia. No one is threatening Russia. In fact, the EU and Ukraine are staunch supporters of the established European security order. Remember that Russia is the world’s largest country by geography with a population of more than 140 million and has one of the largest armed forces in the world with the highest number of nuclear weapons. It is not accurate to portray Russia as a country under acute military threat. In terms of geography, less than one sixteenth of Russia’s land border is with NATO members. Of the 14 countries Russia borders, only five are NATO members.

2. “Ukraine will use chemical, nuclear and other prohibited weapons against civilians in Donbas.”

The fact is that Ukraine has never produced, stockpiled or used chemical weapons. Putin is likely referring to a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Munich Security Conference last February. In it, Zelenskyy mentions the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, which ensures that the sovereignty and national borders of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are respected vis-à-vis the signatory states that include the US, UK and Russia. In exchange, Ukraine handed over its nuclear weapons inherited from the Soviet Union to Russia or partially destroyed them. Since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 violated Ukrainian sovereignty, Zelenskyy hinted in Munich that he would withdraw from the agreement.

3. “Ukraine is conducting genocide against the Russian-speaking population in the East.”

In reality, there is no evidence that Russian-speaking or ethnic Russian residents in eastern Ukraine face persecution – let alone genocide — at the hands of Ukrainian authorities. This has been confirmed in reports published by the Council of Europe, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the OSCE. Such claims have been unequivocally debunked by independent Russian media, among others. None of the multiple reports on the human rights situation in Ukraine, which are regularly published by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, or the reports on the human rights situation in Ukraine come even close to referencing genocide in Ukraine.

4. “There is no war in Ukraine, only ‘special military operation’.”

The narrative of a “special military operation” thus uses the language of policing, not of genuine military confrontation. Note the resemblance in the Russian way of naming the use of its armed forces: “operation on the restoration of the constitutional order in Chechnya” (the First Chechen War), “counter-terrorist operation on the territory of Northern Caucasus region” (the Second Chechen War), “peace enforcement operation” (the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008), and now “special military operation.” Russia does not fight wars, it conducts “operations,” because wars can only be fought with equals.

Kremenchuk shopping mall attack

5. Regarding Kremenchuk shopping mall attack “Russian troops struck a nearby depot of the U.S. and European arms triggering the explosion that ignited the fire in the mall.”

Russians intentionally hit the shopping centre to target civilians. There are no military objects nearby, and Kremenchuk Oil Refinery could not be a target since it is:

1) 10 km away

2) already completely destroyes by Russian missile attacks earlier

Dietmar Pichler

Disinformation analyst. Media literacy trainer & Political advisor. Programmic director at ZDM (center of digital media competence). The ZDM offers workshops and teachings on media literacy, such as seminars about russian disinformation.


Sources of videos from Kremenchuk: Volodymyr Zelenskiy official Telegram channel; official Telegram channel of Poltava Oblast governor Dmytro Lunin

How to recognise disinformation

1. Be skeptical about everything:

What is the meaning behind that news? Why has this story been written? Do the authors want to persuade you or lead you in a certain direction? What opinions are shown? How are you influenced by the story? Ask yourself those questions, before sharing the story.

2. Check the sources:

Take care of where you receive the news: Is the website already known for the spreading of misinformation? You should inform yourself about the agenda of the news website, but also about the people behind. What do they want to convey through their articles? Same thing goes for the journalists, who produced the news. If no author is credited, you have to be extra careful.

3. Check out 2-3 other media sources:

Are other news outlets also reporting about the event? How are they telling the story? See if you can recognize major differences in storytelling and facts.

4. Be careful about the headline:

Many times, the headline is telling you something different than the actual article. A sensational title, which uses dramatic words, might only try to catch your attention, whereas the actual article might be a fraud. Also ask yourself, which emotions the headline causes, and how it will influence you.

5. Check the facts:

Read more than the headline and take a close look at the facts: Can they be true? Where does the information come from? Check when the story was published, what sourcesare given and what statistics are shown. A credible news story will also feature experts, eye-witnesses, different points of view and generally present a lot of facts from different sources.

6. Check the pictures:

Due to image editing programs, pictures can be manipulated easily. Upload the photos on google image reverse search to check if they were manipulated or used for other occasions. Be also careful with videos, since they could be a “deepfake”.

Christina and Olesia

both have Russian origin. Christina was born in Austria where she lived most of her life, but her mother is Russian. Olesia moved to Vienna 30 years ago, but her relatives still live in Russia.


Florian Schmidt

Head of the Verification Office at APA (Austrian Press Agency). He is responsible for the coordination and management of all fact-checking activities and also leads workshops on topics like Fake news or Verification.


Source of video from Bucha: Jose Andres

The most important question is

“Do I believe in something, only because it fits into my view of the world?”


This project was produced for the International School of Multimedia Journalism (ISMJ) at FHWien der WKW, University of Applied Sciences for Management & Communication.

Oleksandra Tkach, Victoria Hehle, Tamar Gegenava, Khrystyna Miskevych