The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network launched its Eyewitness Ukraine project on Thursday – a new webpage featuring interviews with Ukrainian journalists speaking about their personal experiences of living and working through the Russian invasion of their country.
The journalists talk frankly about how they reacted when they first heard that the invasion had started in February, the dangers that they have faced reporting on the war, and how their work during wartime has affected their personal lives.
They also discuss issues like the war’s impact on media freedom, the challenges of upholding objectivity while reporting on an invasion of your own country, and the problems posed by official restrictions imposed under martial law, as well as Russian disinformation and propaganda.
“These interviews highlight Ukrainian journalists’ commitment to reporting the war in their country despite the risks they face,” said Matthew Collin, BIRN’s editor on the Eyewitness Ukraine project.
“Almost six months into the conflict, they have remained dedicated to seeking the truth, informing the public and upholding media freedom as best they can in a state under invasion,” Collin added.
Among the interviewees are prominent media figures like Angelina Kariakina, the head of news at the Ukrainian Public Broadcaster, Andriy Tsaplienko, a television journalist for 1+1 TV who is renowned for his war reporting, and Nataliya Gumenyuk, co-founder of the Public Interest Journalism Lab and of Hromadske TV.
In her interview for the Eyewitness Ukraine project, Kariakina said that she and other Ukrainian journalists have witnessed terrible violence during the conflict.
“I’ve seen the bodies on the streets, I’ve seen the horrific demolitions of the residential areas, I’ve seen villages just burned down,” she said.
“But I’ve also seen and I’ve witnessed incredible examples of solidarity and courage and help,” she added.
Kariakina argued that the purpose of journalism has remained the same despite the war – “to put light into dark places, to give voice to the voiceless, to report the truth, and just to be there for the people”.
As the war continues, BIRN will add more interviews to the Eyewitness Ukraine webpage to give more insights into how media workers are dealing with the ongoing stress of living through months of conflict while continuing to do their jobs.
The war in Ukraine has already proved deadly for journalists. At least 12 media workers have been killed while covering the conflict so far, and many more have been injured, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
There is evidence that one of them, photojournalist Maks Levin, was executed by Russian forces, media freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders has claimed.
See the Eyewitness Ukraine interviews here.