Covering the Ukraine invasion: Anton Skyba for the Globe and Mail February 27, 2017Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Anton Skyba Photojournalist, Mark McKinnon, Metaphor Images, Metaphor Online, The Globe and Mail , trackback
In 2004 I was lucky to work for the Globe and Mail for Mark McKinnon and Jeremy Page during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime for a freelance photographer, confronting history and working for two amazing journalists.
It kicked off a long free lance career for me that has led me back to Ukraine regularly to astonishing scenarios and opportunities to share on the scene realities. Reporting on the downing of Malaysia’s MH17 in Torres was my most recent and most traumatic experience.
Mark McKinnon continues to report on Ukraine for the Globe and Mail and correlates the connection between the inauguration of Donald Trump as US president and the newest outbreaks in the eastern frontline of Ukraine. Photojournalist Anton Skyba has contributed extensively to Mark McKinnon’s latest report.
“It was six days after the first official phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that a rocket destroyed Nina Zharekova’s kitchen.
Nobody was hurt, Ms. Zharekova whispers, peering up through the hole left when a Grad rocket, fired by Russian-backed separatists positioned just a few kilometres away, tore through the roof of the modest home she shares with her daughter and five-year-old grandson. “But it’s a miracle we’re alive.”
A relative quiet had reigned for months along the swerving front line between the Ukrainian army and the separatists who control two enclaves along the Russian border. But the day after the Jan. 28 call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin, the regular rattle of small weapons in Ukraine’s Donbass region was replaced by the thunder of artillery, tank and rocket fire, all of it in violation of a 2015 ceasefire agreement.
It’s almost as though someone is trying to test the rookie U.S. leader – by roughly tripling the level of violence – to find out where he really stands on the three-year-old war in what used to be Ukraine’s industrial heartland.”
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
THE EXPERIENCE OF ANTON SKYBA UKRAINIAN PHOTO JOURNALIST
In 2014 a young reporter Anton Skyba spoke excitedly in Lviv about his experiences on the frontlines in eastern Ukraine. He described Russian-backed separatists shelling villages and sending civilians running for their lives.
“I can’t believe this is happening in my homeland,” said Anton Skyba, who runs a small information agency and had never covered a war before. He is lucky to be alive.
When he ventured into territory held by pro-Russian forces, he was captured, beaten and accused of spying, he said. After being held for several days, he was turned over to another rebel group, which freed him.
Skyba recalled these events during the November 2014 Media Forum held in Lviv, Ukraine, near the Polish border. The crowd was abuzz with reports that Russian troops and tanks were pouring over the border. Four months later, Business Insider included Ukraine on its list of the world’s 15 worst war zones.
“Our journalists are not experienced war correspondents. They are not ready for this,” said forum organizer Ostap Protsyk. “[The Russian invasion] is the biggest story for us. Our media have to cover it.”
Skyba’s story echoes a harrowing trend of local journalists switching from education, politics and crime beats to reporting on the violence in their back yard when conflict strikes. Many have paid dearly.
A JOURNALIST’S SAFETY GUIDE
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that nearly nine in 10 work-related fatalities since 1992 involved journalists covering news in their own country. More than 95 percent of journalists jailed worldwide are local reporters, photojournalists, bloggers and editors, according to CPJ.
After the Lviv Media Forum, around 40 members of the Ukrainian press corps gathered for a workshop on safety tips. Among the advice:
- Never ride in the back seat of a two-door car in a combat zone. It is a death trap. Always keep windows down, doors slightly ajar and seat belts unbuckled.
- Befriend villagers and refugees. They know the terrain and have pipelines to fighters.
- Keep mobile phones charged, fill gas tanks and always carry extra batteries. Pack water, snacks, toilet paper and a first aid kit.
- Never do anything for fun in a war zone. It could get you killed.
With the 2015 Global Risks report listing international conflict as the greatest threat to world stability over the next 10 years, the realities of 21st century conflict underscore a key point: The need for safety training for journalists has never been greater.
Global media watchdogs have compiled resources and guidelines for journalists covering conflict. Here is a sampling of what’s available online:
- Journalists Safety Guide: Covering the News in a Dangerous and Changing World - Committee to Protect Journalists. Handbook has a section on domestic journalism and deals with practical issues such as approaching checkpoints and hostile subjects. Available in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian, Somali, Farsi, Portuguese and Chinese.
- Handbook for Journalists - Reporters Without Borders. Lists of useful tips and excellent chapter on safety behind the lines. Available in English, French, Urdu and Kurdish.
- IWPR Training Manual - Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Contains chapter on journalist safety and is available in English, Arabic, Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Tajik.
- Disaster and Crisis Coverage - International Center for Journalists. Contains chapters on managing crisis coverage, reporting crises and staying safe.
- SEEMO Safety Net Manual - South East Europe Media Organization. Includes chapter on reporting during demonstrations, social unrest and other violent situations. Twelve different language versions available for all SEEMO countries.
- The Journalist Survival Guide - SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom at the Samir Kassir Foundation. The guide will prepare you for action in case of a tear gas attack, shooting, injury and other risks. Available in English and Arabic.
- Reporting Atrocities: A Toolbox for Journalists Covering Violent Conflict and Atrocities - Internews. The 7-chapter guide features a whole section on practical strategies for keeping yourself safe in a warzone.
- Tragedies and Journalists - Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. The free PDF lists ways for journalists to battle the psychological effects of covering traumatic events.