An editor’s reflections on covering the war in Ukraine

Editor and journalist at Ukrainian independent media outlet Alisa Yurchenko looks back at the first days of the war in Ukraine and reflects on the challenging role of the media.

On the morning at 4am when Kyiv was attacked by Russia at 4am, our entire team of around 30 people were in Kyiv. We then implemented our evacuation plan. Some of us left Kyiv and drove hundreds of kilometres to continue producing content. Others remained in Kyiv to instead be engaged in humanitarian aid or participate in the territorial defence forces. We stayed in one place to continue our work. Then, two days later, we moved further west according to our evacuation plan.

Currently our team is spread across several cities in Ukraine. Most of our team is in various cities in the west of Ukraine, but a significant part has remained in Kyiv.

The people who are still working for us are filling our social media channels with informational content, especially our YouTube channel, which has half a million subscribers. We are trying to inform the Ukrainian population about what is happening in Ukraine. We have defined the main goal for our work, which is to not allow the Russians to divide Ukrainian society and not allow the Russian propaganda machine to lower the morale of our Ukrainian audience who listen to us. Recent polls show that 95 percent of the Ukrainians support the president and the current government, and we don’t want this percentage to go any lower.

That’s why we put an emphasis on explaining how Russian propaganda is disseminating fakes to trigger panic in our country.

We have also identified dozens of Telegram channels that claim to be showing the situation in Ukraine but that are actually being controlled and managed by Russian military. All their messages are aimed at disorienting and trying to trigger panic among Ukrainians. We try to explain what they are lying about and how they lie.

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We currently feel relatively safe where we are, but we don’t know what will happen in a few days or in a week. Yesterday we found out from a security guard that a woman took photos of our office.

We have to go to the basement several times both during the day and during the night when something is entering the airspace.

For my male colleagues, they might need to join the army at some point, but while they haven’t been mobilised yet, they continue producing informational content for us.

Since I am here with my small daughter, I have to consider going abroad, taking my car and driving to the nearest border. If I have to leave Ukraine at some point, I will continue working on our YouTube channel and social media platforms from abroad.

But for now, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to remain here for as long as I can. It’s the least I can do for my country.

Alisa Yurchenko is an Editor and journalist with Ukrainian independent media outlet