New media hub in Ukraine creates community among journalists and provides emergency shelter

A new media hub that provides journalists with a safe space to work in Lviv, Ukraine, during war has been opened by Lviv Media Forum with support from IMS

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has brought countless challenges for the country’s journalists who face displacement, power outages and safety issues. There is a need for a safe environment for the community of Ukrainian and international journalists and media workers around Ukraine. IMS’ partners, Lviv Media Forum, opened Lviv Media Hub with the intention of providing such a work and meeting space for local and displaced Ukrainian journalists and media outlets that have been forced to relocate. At the hub, they have access to desks, meeting rooms and even showers and beds; the building itself can easily be turned into a shelter if needed. 

Halyna Hychka is a journalist at Varosh, an independent online magazine located in Uzhhorod, who visited Lviv Media Hub twice. 

“It is cosy, comfortable and, most importantly, safe. So, in case of an air raid siren, you can safely work in a shelter.” 

She also likes the fact that journalists from Ukraine can meet other international journalists and media workers at the hub.  

“It’s very important for foreign colleagues to have a space where they can get important information about the war in Ukraine without any Russian influence.”  

Following the first Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian cities, Lviv Media Forum launched the Emergency Media Support programme, which holds strategic sessions with editors and training for teams. The programme can arrange evacuation assistance, psychological help and recovery, consulting on cyber security and more. Journalists and media workers can join journalistic informational and training sessions at the hub in issues regarding safety during war, including security sessions, risk management training, first aid courses and documentary filming. In addition to providing a space for media organisations to work out of or schedule meetings, Lviv Media Hub also has IT, photo, audio and video equipment available to rent. 

Halyna Hycka found the security training very valuable.  

“I will go in frontline and do interviews and make materials with soldiers, so it’s very important training and information we get in order to stay safe in this case. We spoke about how journalists behave in the war, about medical aid and the very important fact about psychological aid. We also spoke about digital security. Since we live in Uzhhorod – the vast region and most safe region in Ukraine, we didn’t think about digital security, but after the training we began to use secure chat,” she said.

Building local and international community 

Recognising the need to strengthen connections as well as building new ones, Lviv Media Forum encourages networking among journalists and media workers and launched the app Nibly in September to further international cooperation of media workers.  

Olya Hakh is a freelance journalist based in Lviv. She finds value in the media hub as a meeting place for Ukrainian journalists, hosting events about the work of Ukrainian journalists during war.  

“I meet familiar colleagues from other cities that appear from all over Ukraine. The training within the community is very valuable these days, where we get to discuss various aspects of working during martial law, share experiences and advise each other,” she says.  

“A collegue from Zaporizhzhia often posts news and photos on Facebook after the shelling of the city. Her photos are very valuable,” she continues. Another colleague was preparing a report from Kyiv after the city was shelled by kamikaze drones. Through that, you understand how much damage these weapons do. Having a wide base of contacts is always cool for a journalist, but during war it becomes even more important. For me, the presence of contacts in the country is a good opportunity to be aware of regional news, to stay in other cities and of course to exchange information and contacts.”

Equipped for challenges 

As circumstances in Ukraine continue to be unpredictable, the safety of journalists and media workers at the hub is of the utmost importance. All members of the hub are vetted to ensure security. In the event that people need to take shelter while in the hub, there are several near the building.  

Maxim Scherbina, host of Toronto Television in Kyiv, also visited the hub.  

“Especially now, it is important for Ukrainian journalists who do not work in the west of the country to have the possibility of shelter in case of escalation of hostilities.” 

Lviv Media Hub is also outfitted and zoned for longer term residence, which would allow it to provide shelter for journalists in case of another wave of relocation, including through cold winter months. Ukraine faces several blackouts due to Russian attacks on critical infrastructure, and it makes it hard for journalists to work. That’s also one of the things, Olya Hakh values about the new hub: 

“In Ukraine the lights are often turned off and working remotely becomes a real challenge, but the hub has the conditions for you to work in case of an emergency power outrage.”  

Since Lviv Media Forum was established in 2013, they have worked towards building a physical space – a networking space for Ukrainian and foreign media specialists and an event space for media organisations. The need for a media hub intensified following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, with thousands of journalists being forced to relocate.  

“Since 24 February, we have become a support space for all media workers,” said Olga Myrovych, CEO of Lviv Media Forum, in a presentation at the hub’s opening on 26 August. Lviv Media Forum have set up their offices in the hub to be closer to the community they are supporting.