May 9, 2022

The Pulitzer Prize Board has awarded a special citation for Ukrainian journalists, who were thrust into covering a war for their homeland earlier this year after Russia invaded Ukraine.

“The Pulitzer board awards a special citation to the journalists of Ukraine for their courage, endurance, and commitment to truthful reporting during Vladimir Putin’s ruthless invasion of their country and his propaganda war in Russia,” the citation reads. “Despite bombardment, abductions, occupation, and even deaths in their ranks, they have persisted in their effort to provide an accurate picture of a terrible reality, doing honor to Ukraine and to journalists around the world, past and present.”

At least three journalists who are Ukrainian nationals have lost their lives in the hostilities: Yevhenii Sakun, a camera operator for Ukraine’s LIVE station; Oleksandra (Sasha) Kuvshynova, a Fox News producer; and Maksym (Max) Levin, a freelance photojournalist.

Scores of others have faced shelling, gunfire or detention, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Reporters Without Borders has produced an interactive map showing incidents throughout Ukraine where journalists were killed, injured, or disappeared, or where media facilities have experienced property damage.

A panel of independent human rights experts appointed by the United Nations has cited “numerous reports” that journalists have been “targeted, tortured, kidnapped, attacked and killed, or refused safe passage” from cities and regions under siege. The panel also warned of cyberattacks by Russian forces against Ukrainian media and internet infrastructure.

“I think it’s fair to say that it is more difficult for us than, say, for foreign journalists,” Olga Rudenko, the editor in chief of The Kyiv Independent, told Time magazine. “We’re not just telling the story, we’re living the story.”

One reporter who wrote a story for the Kyiv Independent about Ukrainian refugees crossing the border into Poland later became a refugee herself, Rudenko told Time.

Despite the dangers, “Ukrainian journalists have provided a bulwark against Russian efforts to delude and dispirit Ukrainians with disinformation and propaganda,” wrote Antonina Cherevko, head of the Independent Media Council of Ukraine; Nick Benequista, senior director of the Center for International Media Assistance; and Maksym Dvorovyi, legal counsel with the Digital Security Lab Ukraine.

Cherevko, Benequista, and Dvorovyi added that as the war continues, journalists in Ukraine need safety equipment such as bulletproof vests and helmets as well as cybersecurity support.

“Many regional and hyper-local news outlets were already operating month-to-month before the war,” they wrote. “Most of them are now running out of money after relocating staff. Rental costs are skyrocketing in western Ukraine, where many journalists have sought safe haven.”

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Louis Jacobson has been with PolitiFact since 2009, currently as senior correspondent. Previously, he served as deputy editor of Roll Call and as founding editor…
Louis Jacobson

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