The Latest Journalism on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

From The Poynter Report with Tom Jones:

The headlines on Wednesday continued to paint a grim picture in Ukraine.

CNN’s website blared, “Ukraine reels from brutal Russian onslaught.”

Similar headlines could be seen on the homepages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, and on and on.

It has now been a week since Russia invaded Ukraine, and no end appears in sight. On Wednesday, Kherson became the first major Ukrainian city to be overtaken by the Russians. Disturbingly, it might not be the last city to fall.

To open today’s newsletter, I look at some of the notable journalism.

CNN’s Jim Sciutto interviewed Tata Marharian, a member of the Ukrainian Volunteer Medical Battalion. Marharian told Sciutto, “What am I seeing? I’m seeing dead children. I’m seeing hospitals being bombed. I’m seeing churches being bombed. It’s difficult. I don’t know what to tell you. What am I seeing? I’m seeing my people die.”

That’s just a portion of what Marharian had to say.

Leaving the country

Last Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” host Brian Stelter interviewed Ekaterina Kotrikadze, the news director and anchor of TV Rain, the last remaining independent station in Russia. She told Stelter that the Russian government was already putting pressure on the station for its Ukraine coverage. She said, “I don’t know how much longer we’ll be on the air.”

On Wednesday, Stelter and CNN’s Bianna Golodryga reported that TV Rain editor-in-chief Tikhon Dzyadko announced on Telegram that he and his family, along with the editorial staff, have left Russia for their own safety. CNN wrote, “TV Rain’s YouTube channel is still accessible outside Russia, but its website is not loading for Russian internet users, according to GlobalCheck, a service that tracks internet censorship.”

Earlier this week, Dzyadko told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that “they don’t want us to spread real information about deaths among civilians, about deaths among Russian soldiers.”

It would appear most Russians are getting their information from state-run TV, but The Hill’s Dominick Mastrangelo writes, “Millions of people in Russia are turning to the BBC for independent information about the country’s assault on Ukraine as an alternative to Russian state-sponsored programming.”

Mastrangelo reported that the weekly audience for the BBC’s Russian language news site has more than tripled following the invasion, reaching a record 10.7 million last week. In addition, visits to the English-language BBC website in Russia were up 252% to 423,000.

Mastrangelo wrote, “The new figures come as the Kremlin seeks to crack down on media sources critical of the invasion within its country and control the message Russians are hearing. State-sponsored outlets have been instructed to avoid terms like ‘invasion’ and ‘war’ and have painted the military operations in Ukraine as liberating rather than aggressive and violent.”

But the BBC’s Simona Kralova and Sandro Vetsko wrote, “Never was there a better illustration of the alternative reality presented by Russian state media than at 17:00 GMT on Tuesday. As BBC World TV opened its bulletin with reports of a Russian attack on a TV tower in the capital Kyiv, Russian TV was announcing that Ukraine was responsible for strikes on its own cities.”

Kralova and Vetsko then went through some snapshots of what Russians are seeing on their TV stations, which are clearly controlled by the Kremlin and its corporate allies.

On assignment in Ukraine

Veteran journalist Katie Couric interviewed Lynsey Addario, a photographer on assignment in Ukraine for The New York Times.

Speaking over her laptop, Addario was in Kyiv when sirens outside her hotel went off, and she quickly scrambled to the bathroom and put on a protective helmet and flak jacket while continuing to talk to Couric.

Addario described safety precautions, and what she did the first few days covering the invasion, including deciding where to go to avoid being in the line of fire. “Those decisions are constantly taking up our time,” she told Couric.

The piece had many of Addario’s photos, including people whose homes were destroyed. Many have evacuated the big cities but, Addario added, “Some people just don’t have anywhere to go.”

An insightful conversation

On Wednesday, Washington Post columnists Josh Rogin and Max Boot answered online questions from readers about what has happened and, more insightfully, what might happen next with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine. Here’s the transcript. (This kind of thing is superb when you have journalists who know what they’re talking about.)

Rogin and Boot talked about the impact of sanctions against Russia, what the U.S. and NATO should do next and what they shouldn’t do.

Boot wrote, “We should not involve US troops in direct combat against the Russians, which risks an escalation toward WWIII. That means we should not announce a no fly zone because that would require the US to shoot down Russian aircraft. But we should supply the Ukrainians with weapons and use economic sanctions to cripple the Russian economy — if we can. Tougher questions include whether we should push for a war crimes prosecution of Putin or try to encourage the Russian opposition to overthrow Putin at home. There is a fine balancing act between applying maximum pressure on Putin and still giving him a face-saving exit strategy so that he doesn’t feel compelled to destroy Ukraine.”

The questions from readers were excellent, and the responses were informative.

What about Russia’s economy?

CNN’s Allison Morrow had a story with this headline: “Russians are bracing for a dramatic shift in their standard of living.”

Morrow does a good job explaining the impact sanctions are having on Russia, but writes, “If the latest sanctions persist, Russia is far more likely to double down on domestic substitutes and tell its citizens to simply adapt than it is to negotiate with the West.”

Meanwhile, Slate’s Henry Grabar wrote, “How to Seize a Russian Billionaire’s Penthouse.”

Grabar writes about what it’s like to take away the fancy homes and yachts and various toys of Russian oligarchs. He writes, “It’s easy to see why snatching fancy boats was appealing policy even before Russian artillery started bombing Kiev last week. While broader sanctions hurt everyday Russians, it’s surprisingly simple to bring the hammer down specifically on the country’s richest and most powerful citizens, because they store an astounding amount of their wealth abroad.”

It could be an effective plan, but not necessarily easy to implement, as Grabar explains in a story you should check out.

Turning art into survival

ABC News’ Matt Gutman did a story on an art gallery in Lviv that has been turned into a makeshift workshop where volunteers piece together camouflage netting to protect Ukrainian soldiers and equipment.

Gutman said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this.”

Other piece of note

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