March 29, 2024

Good morning. First, an update on the newsletter. There will be no Poynter Report on Monday. My colleagues will handle the newsletter next Tuesday, and I will return to see you all again on Wednesday.

And now onto today’s Poynter Report, with an opening item written by my colleague, Angela Fu.

Today, images of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich will run in several prominent news outlets. Emblazoned across some, a promise: “We’ll Keep Telling Evan’s Story. Until He Can Tell His Own.”

It’s the culmination of a weeklong effort by The Wall Street Journal to mark the one-year anniversary of Gershkovich’s detainment in Russia. On March 29, 2023, Russian officials arrested Gershkovich, 32, while he was on a reporting assignment and charged him with espionage. Gershkovich, The Wall Street Journal and the United States government have all denied the charges, but he continues to be held in a Moscow prison, uncertain of when he will face trial.

“This is a full-frontal assault on the free press,” said Wall Street Journal assistant editor Paul Beckett. “The charge he faces is totally bogus. We haven’t seen any evidence or been presented with a shred of anything that would explain what they thought he was doing that leads to the false charges they filed against him.”

On the night of Gershkovich’s arrest, Beckett, the Journal’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief at the time, contacted the State Department, National Security Council, Pentagon and other institutions to report Gershkovich missing. By October, Beckett had transitioned to a new role to work on Gershkovich’s case full time. His work involves multiple fronts: supporting Gershkovich and his family, keeping Wall Street Journal employees updated on Gershkovich’s situation, talking to people in Washington about strategies to bring Gershkovich home, and creating awareness campaigns.

Lawyers for The Wall Street Journal and parent company Dow Jones are working most directly to negotiate Gershkovich’s release, Beckett said. “But we believe that keeping Evan front-of-mind will help those negotiations and hopefully help them end faster.”

The latest awareness campaign started last weekend with “Swim for Evan” events at 10 beaches named Brighton across the world. (Gershkovich used to regularly visit the Brighton beaches in New York and England.) On Wednesday, more than 200 people attempted to symbolically cover the 4,707 miles that separate Moscow from Gershkovich’s hometown of Princeton, New Jersey, in a dozen different “Run for Evan” events. And throughout the week, major publications in the U.S. and the U.K. ran editorials and feature stories about Gershkovich’s detainment.

The front page of The Wall Street Journal for Friday, March 29, features a large blank space to honor the work of Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained in Russia for a year. (Courtesy: Wall Street Journal)

Reporters across major outlets also came together Wednesday for a 24-hour “Read-A-Thon” of Gershkovich’s work. Along with Gershokivch’s friends and colleagues, prominent journalists including CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins, ABC News anchor David Muir, Fox News anchor Brett Baier, Washington Post executive editor Sally Buzbee, Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, New Yorker editor David Remnick and New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor read Gershkovich’s reporting aloud.

“I think it’s easy for it to be lost on people what the impact for democracy and journalism is for Evan to be detained,” said Wall Street Journal reporter Caitlin Ostroff, who helped organize the event. “When I was printing out Evan’s stories for the Read-A-Thon and putting together the massive binders that we have of them, I was completely awestruck by how much he has done — how many different types of topics, people, regions he has covered.”

Gershkovich, the son of Soviet Union immigrants, started his journalism career at The New York Times before working for The Moscow Times and Agence France-Presse. He joined The Wall Street Journal in January 2022 and helped cover the Russia-Ukraine war. Gershkovich was working in Yekaterinburg with press credentials from Russia’s foreign ministry when he was arrested.

“He had just a great interest in Russian culture, people and society, in addition to all the usual things a foreign correspondent covers in terms of the government and economy. He really took to Russia and loves the country, loves covering the Russian people. That’s the kind of reporter he was,” said Beckett, who worked with Gershkovich when he was D.C. bureau chief. “Some foreign correspondents will go and just hobnob with expats and embassy people. He went and dived right in.”

On Wednesday, a Russian judge extended Gershkovich’s detention by three months, The Wall Street Journal reported. It was the fifth time Gershkovich’s detention has been extended, and it is unclear when his case will reach trial. In the meantime, he is being kept in the infamous Lefortovo prison, where he spends 23 hours a day in his cell.

“And yet he has been reading. He has been exercising. He has been writing letters, doing yoga, finding ways to maintain his equilibrium, and we’re really grateful for that,” Beckett said. “He’s clearly an extraordinary young man.”

Gershkovich’s colleagues said they hope the week’s awareness campaign will inspire people to learn more about him and his situation. The Wall Street Journal maintains a page with information and resources regarding Gershkovich’s case, and readers can write messages to him and his family.

“He should be here,” said Ostroff, who met and befriended Gershkovich while she was working at The Wall Street Journal’s London bureau. “He should be annoyingly taller than me, looking down, laughing at my antics. And he’s not.

“But what keeps me going is honestly just random people who take an interest. … Each new person that we’re able to reach is a victory. Even if those individual people don’t think they can do much, even them just knowing Evan’s name is so much.”

And now media news, tidbits and interesting links for your weekend review …

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Angela Fu is a reporter for Poynter. She can be reached at or on Twitter @angelanfu.
Angela Fu
Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
Tom Jones

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