He was 55 with a wife and family. She was only 24 and reporting on the attack on her own country. This week, they were doing their job, covering the war in Ukraine.
And now comes the horrific news: Both were killed in an attack by Russian troops.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said, “The truth is the target.”
Pierre Zakrzewski, a cameraman for Fox News, was killed while reporting alongside Fox News reporter Benjamin Hall when incoming fire hit their vehicle outside of Kyiv in Horenka. Hall was injured and hospitalized, but there have been no official updates on his condition.
Zakrzewski was 55. He had been in Ukraine since February.
Following the news of Zakrzewski’s death, it was learned that Oleksandra Kuvshynova, a 24-year-old Ukrainian reporter who was working with the Fox News team, also was killed in the attack that killed Zakrzewski and injured Hall.
Fox News staffers and journalists throughout the world were devastated by the news.
In a statement, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott said Zakrzewski’s “passion and talent as a journalist were unmatched. … His talents were vast and there wasn’t a role that he didn’t jump in to help with in the field — from photographer to engineer to editor to producer — and he did it all under immense pressure with tremendous skill.”
Scott added, “Today is a heartbreaking day for Fox News Media and for all journalists risking their lives to deliver the news.”
Scott said that Zakrzewski played a key role last year in helping freelance associates and their families get out of Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal there. Last December, at Fox News Media’s annual employee Spotlight Awards, Zakrzewski was honored with the “Unsung Hero” award.
Fox News president Jay Wallace said Zakrzewski was a constant in Fox News’ international coverage and that other staff “always felt an extra sense of reassurance when they arrived on the scene, and they saw that Pierre was there.”
On the air, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer said, “Pierre Zakrzewski was an absolute legend at this network and his loss is devastating. … He was a professional, he was a journalist, and he was a friend. We here at the Fox News Channel want to offer our deepest condolences to Pierre’s wife, Michelle, and his entire family. Pierre Zakrzewski was only 55 years old, and we miss him already.”
In her opening comments in Tuesday’s press conference, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “I also just wanted to note the news we heard from the CEO of Fox this morning that cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski … lost his life. He is someone who has served in many war zones over the course of time. He was a war zone photographer who covered nearly every international story for Fox News, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Syria during his long tenure working there. So, we just, our thoughts, prayers are with his family, with the entire community as well.”
Fox News anchor John Roberts tweeted, “I worked with Pierre many times around the world. He was an absolute treasure. Sending our most heartfelt prayers to Pierre’s wife and family.”
Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin tweeted, “Such a fine man. Such a good friend. Such a fantastic war photographer and so much more. RIP Pierre Zakrzewski.”
Trey Yingst, a Fox News reporter who has been in Ukraine covering the war, tweeted a photo of him with Zakrzewski and wrote, “I don’t know what to say. Pierre was as good as they come. Selfless. Brave. Passionate. I’m so sorry this happened to you.”
And CNN’s Clarissa Ward, who also has been covering the war, tweeted, “There are no words. I had the great privilege of working with Pierre and the even greater privilege of calling him a friend. An extraordinary spirit and tremendous talent and one of the kindest, most gracious colleagues on the road. Absolutely heartbreaking.”
It’s not uncommon for journalists working in foreign countries to work alongside a local journalist — a “fixer” who can help with logistics, local customs, the language and local citizens and governments. Kuvshynova, a local journalist in Ukraine, was working with Fox News and was also killed in the attack.
Yonat Friling, a senior field producer for Fox News, posted a photo of Kuvshynova and tweeted, “In yesterday’s attack near Kyiv, we have lost a beautiful brave woman — Oleksandra Kuvshinova — Sasha. She loved music and she was funny and kind. She was 24 years old. She worked with our team for the past month and did a brilliant job. May her memory be a blessing.”
Scott put out another statement later in the day acknowledging Kuvshynova’s death, saying, “Our team in Ukraine tells me that Sasha had a passion for music, the arts and photography and was a joy to work with. Several of our correspondents and producers spent long days working with her reporting the news and got to know her personally, describing her as hard-working, kind, funny and brave. Her dream was to connect with people around the world and tell their stories and she fulfilled that through her journalism.”
Ben C. Solomon, a filmmaker and international correspondent for Vice News and formerly of The New York Times, tweeted, “A reminder: As foreign journalists, we are just that — foreign. We’d be nothing without our local collaborators. Instead of fleeing war with their families, they work to add incalculable context and expertise for the world to gain. RIP Sasha Kuvshynova, who made us all better.”
Jane Ferguson, a correspondent for “PBS NewsHour” tweeted, “Pierre was found dead alongside Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra Kuvshynova. The media death toll so far is five journalists — three Ukrainians, one American and one Irish. In just 20 days. Shocking.”
On Sunday, American documentary filmmaker, Brent Renaud, was shot and killed while reporting outside Kyiv. The Committee to Protect Journalists previously wrote that Russian military forces bombed a TV tower in Kyiv on March 1, five were killed, including camera operator Yevhenii Sakun.”
We’re learning more about the woman who held up a protest sign during a live broadcast of Russia’s most-watched newscast this week.
Marina Ovsyannikova ran on camera behind a news anchor and yelled “Stop the war,” while holding up a sign that said, “No war, stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.” It happened during a news show called “Vremya,” which is on state-run Channel One. “Vremya” is watched by millions of people in Russia.
Turns out, Ovsyannikova works at Channel One as an editor — or did. She was arrested on Tuesday and, she said, interrogated for more than 14 hours.
NPR’s Bill Chappell wrote, “Ovsyannikova’s whereabouts were in question after her arrest, but she later appeared in a district court, sitting next to her lawyer, according to human rights attorney Sergei Badamshin’s Telegram channel. The Novaya Gazeta newspaper said she faced an administrative charge of organizing an uncoordinated event. Badamshin says the charge stemmed not from Ovsyannikova’s on-air protest but from a video she posted on social media, in which she called for Russians to protest the war in Ukraine. Ovsyannikova was fined 30,000 rubles (about $280) for that offense, he said. She still faces the threat of other charges.”
A Russian rights group that is giving Ovsyannikova legal support put out a video in which Ovsyannikova says she is “deeply ashamed” to have worked to produce “Kremlin propaganda” for Channel One.
In the video, Ovsyannikova called on Russians to protest the war, saying, “We are Russian people, thinking and smart ones. Only we have the power to stop all this craziness.”
Speaking to reporters after her court appearance, Ovsyannikova said, “It was my anti-war decision. I made this decision by myself because I don’t like Russia starting this invasion.”
More notable coverage of Russia and Ukraine
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is scheduled to deliver a virtual address this morning to members of Congress. Look for all news networks to cover Zelensky’s remarks.
- For The New York Times, Jeffrey Gettleman and Monika Pronczuk with “Two Refugees, Both on Poland’s Border. But Worlds Apart.”
- Also in The New York Times, Michael Schwirtz (with photographs by Tyler Hicks): “‘I’m Not Scared of Anything’: Death and Defiance in a Besieged Ukrainian City.”
- And one more from The Times: media reporters Tiffany Hsu and Michael M. Grynbaum with “‘Minute-to-Minute Triage’: Weighing News Against Safety in Russia.”
- The Associated Press’ Lynn Elber with “In Ukraine, female war reporters build on legacy of pioneers.”
- The Washington Post’s Jeremy Barr with “Matthew Chance, one of CNN’s star Ukraine correspondents, gets a break.”
- Mediaite’s Michael Luciano with some criticism of MSNBC’s Joy Reid in “Joy Reid Continues Nonstop Coverage of Ukraine After Accusing Her Peers of Elevating It Over ‘Browner’ Countries.”
The Smiths name an executive editor
Gina Chua, a top editor at Reuters, has been named executive editor of the new global media startup headed by former New York Times media columnist Ben Smith and former Bloomberg chief Justin Smith.
Chua has been the executive editor at Reuters since last April after previous stints at the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and the Asia edition of The Wall Street Journal. And, Katie Robertson of The New York Times wrote, “(Chua) is also one of the most senior transgender journalists in the United States.”
She will report to Ben Smith.
Ben Smith told Robertson, “Gina is an operational wizard at the highest level who has spent her career obsessed with fixing the way stories are told to consumers in the United States and across Asia. Her career leading newsrooms in five countries over three decades, and her perspectives as a Singaporean educated in the Philippines and the U.S., and as an Asian trans woman, are vital to the global news organization we’re trying to build.”
Chua said she has been in discussions with Ben and Justin Smith, who are not related, since January. She told Robertson, “I’ve been certainly thinking about the issues that they want to solve, this notion of an overburdened and underserved audience and the importance of trying to find ways to get information to people, information they need, in a timely and not overwhelming manner.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel printing is moving to Central Illinois
For this item, I turn it over to Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds.
Gannett has taken the trend of outsourced print production to new lengths, announcing Monday that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its 10 other Wisconsin dailies will be printed at the Peoria Journal Star beginning in May.
Peoria is 220 miles and three-and-a-half hours from Milwaukee. Other papers in the Wisconsin groupwif, including the Green Bay Press-Gazette, are even further north.
The move will result in the shuttering of the Journal Sentinel’s printing plant and the loss of 180 jobs.
The change will also push back deadlines, eliminating next-day coverage of night or early evening sports — no small thing in Milwaukee where the Bucks are NBA champions, the Packers are perennial contenders and the Brewers are having a run of good seasons. The Journal Sentinel already publishes a digital supplement on nights after the Packers games and can be expected to turn print sports content to analysis and features while doing spot game coverage on its website or e-replica edition.
Since Gannett and GateHouse merged in late 2019, the nation’s largest newspaper publisher with 250 dailies has consolidated printing at its biggest plants while closing many others. Gannett also contracts at those hubs with papers outside its network who want out of doing their own printing, for instance producing McClatchy’s Kansas City Star in Des Moines.
The Journal Sentinel article on the shift quoted Bernie Szachara, president of Gannett U.S. Publishing Operations, explaining, “As our business becomes increasingly digital and subscription-led, we are making challenging, but strategic decisions to ensure the future of local journalism.”
- NBC News’ interactive tool, “Plan Your Vote,” is back as we get ready for the 2022 midterms. “Plan Your Vote” provides a comprehensive, state-by-state guide of information voters need to know about the voting rules where they live and major changes since the 2020 elections, including registration deadlines, mail-in voting, early in-person voting, and more.
- Muck Rack, in partnership with several media organizations, surveyed more than 2,500 journalists for its “The State of Journalism 2022.”
- NBC News’ Craig Melvin is giving up his role as host on MSNBC to concentrate on his duties hosting the third hour of the “Today” show. Melvin has been hosting MSNBC’s 11 a.m. Eastern hour. The Los Angeles Times’ Stephen Battaglio has more.
- Variety’s Heidi Chung with “Media job market off to strong start in 2022.”
- The New York Times’ Katie Robertson with “Dozens of BuzzFeed Employees Claim They Were Illegally Shortchanged in I.P.O.”
- Washington Post senior critic-at-large Robin Givhan with “Ralph Lauren revises his vision of the American Dream, inspired by the style of HBCUs.”
- Wow, here’s quite the list: Esquire with “The 100 Best Movies of All Time.” And here’s their separate list of the “38 Documentaries That Will Change Your Life.”
- The New York Times’ Billy Witz with “Her Video Spurred Changes in Women’s Basketball. Did They Go Far Enough?”
Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at email@example.com.
Correction: The item about Gina Chua joining the new start-up being launched by Ben Smith and Justin Smith has been corrected to say she will report to Ben Smith.
More resources for journalists
- Time for a new job? Your future employer is looking for you on The Media Job Board — Powered by Poynter, Editor & Publisher and America’s Newspapers. Search now!
- Immigration’s Impact on the U.S. Economic Recovery (Webinar) — April 7 at 2 p.m. Eastern.
- Transforming Crime Reporting Into Public Safety Journalism — May 10-Aug. 2, Apply by April 15.
- Teachapalooza: Front-Edge Teaching Tools for College Educators (In-person or Online Seminar) —June 10-12, Apply now.
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