At first, I wanted to write about all the influencers spreading unverified videos and photos of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Doom-scrolling has become a constant for many during the past few days as a war is being broadcasted live on social media.
Of course, people with large following want to share something that stands out in the crowded feeds and I lost count of how many times the first comment under a post was a debunking of the shared image or video stating it is years old or doctored.
In 2013, WNYC’s On the Media radio show put together The Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook. The first point out of nine is that in the immediate aftermath even news outlets will get it wrong. And some did this time as well.
The lesson is simple, don’t trust anonymous sources and look for news outlets close to the incident or reputable international news websites that fact-check everything they share. Take NYT’s live updates on Russia-Ukraine war, every video or photo shared from a different source has a note that is has been verified by The Times.
NiemanLab has put together a very resourceful list of liveblogs, maps and sources to follow and get news from, use it.
I know, influencers will keep on sharing stories that stand out, even though debunked, though news outlets should be the first to call them out on it.
The events unfolding are horrifying, so it’s welcome to see many countries and neighbouring citizens stepping up to help – offering accommodation to refugee families, organizing collections, or other activities.
Looking at all the initiatives, here are some steps other news outlets can help Ukrainian media to continue bringing independent reporting and news from the first line as Russian media and various alternative “news” sites funded mainly by Russia are spreading propaganda and fake news.
More from The Fix: Saving Ukraine’s journalism
Looking at the leading news websites in Slovakia, on each of them there is a glaring link, among other news pertains to covering the situation in Ukraine, with the description “How to help Ukrainians” that takes the readers to an article with a list of charities, verified donation sites and initiatives that have formed to collect material, financial or voluntary help.
This is not aimed at Ukrainian media, though looking at other news outlets I couldn’t find something similar. I was looking at the homepage of Zeit, Bild, Le Monde, NY Times, BBC News, Washington Post, Vox and others, no such link.
Then I recalled when the Syrian war started what we call today Europe’s migrant crisis and at the time there were similar efforts by volunteers in Slovakia though they weren’t at all as prominently featured as today in the case of Ukraine.
Yes, proximity plays a role, although it’s also a good thing to reflect on it and change that. I believe all outlets should have a similar article written. It’s a very obvious and easy way to send help in any form.
At least 500 000 refugees (and at the time you are reading this probably much more) have fled into neighboring countries in the wake of the Russian invasion. Most of them (according to the latest estimates, about 300 000 people) are going to Poland.
Onet, one of the largest Polish news sites, started an information service in Ukrainian with current news and more importantly, advice for people arriving in Poland from Ukraine. Another way how to help and very timely.
The Fix, together with the Ukrainian NGO Media Development Foundation, the Netherlands’ Are we Europe and media partners around Europe launched a global fundraising campaign to keep Ukrainian media going.
Representing more than 10 national and regional media outlets, including Ukrainska Pravda, Ukrainer, Liga.net and Kyiv Independent that need security equipment (first-aid kits, helmets, body armors, etc.), support in moving part of their operations abroad to continue working,0 logistical support (to move around or in-and-out of the country) and operational funds for ongoing work.
All of them are covering news about Russia’s war in Ukraine around the clock – keeping the world informed.
There is also another campaign going on to keep the Kyiv Independent going.
More from The Fix: Innovate or die: reader revenue revolution in Ukraine
For media outlets with an active reader revenue infrastructure, it should be fairly easy to raise extra or donate part of the revenue to selected independent Ukrainian news organisations.
A good example is Sifted, the new media site for Europe’s innovators and entrepreneurs, backed by the Financial Times, that is donating 50% of their membership revenue over the next week to The Kyiv Independent to support their work. Sifted founder John Thornhill notes that free press is important now, more than ever.
Of course, there is a fine line for any media not to turn such an initiative into a pompous marketing campaign that could backfire. Done well, it could serve as a way to support Ukrainian media and at the same time push undecided readers to become paying supporters as they see their outlet stepping up in a time of need for others.
Editor’s note: The Fix and IMI https://imi.org.ua/en are providing support to Ukrainian media, please reach out to IMI directly or to email@example.com if you can support. Here is a list of types of equipment needed.
Maybe your news organisation would rather send equipment or offer to cover infrastructure costs or prepay access to digital online tools.
See point 2) for contacts or if you have relationships with Ukrainian journalists or outlets (or those you follow on social media and can verify they are who they say), reach out to them and offer help. Every kind of help counts.
Editor’s note: We are currently coordinating with multiple Ukrainian media both in and out of the country – if you can offer this kind of support, message firstname.lastname@example.org
Among the people fleeing Ukraine, there are also journalists and various media workers who either left the country to continue to work or had to leave with families.
Many newsrooms have already transitioned to hybrid working conditions leaving in some cases large offices empty. We are probably not talking about hundreds of journalists as they are mostly staying in the country to cover the war.
But there are some who are working from a crowded temporary lodging with the family or others in one place. A familiar place to work with professionals from the same industry would be welcomed support. The thing is until you don’t put out such an announcement, you won’t know.
I am sure there are lots of other ways media workers could help fellow Ukrainians, these are just a few basic ones to get you inspired and show that anyone big or small can help.
Hi! I'm David Tvrdon, a tech & media journalist and podcaster with a marketing background (and degree). Every week I send out the FWIW by David Tvrdon newsletter on tech, media, audio and journalism.