Writing in the dark: Ukrainian journalists need power

Russia is targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure and the country is on the verge of a complete blackout. This is heavily affecting the daily life of civilians and preventing Ukrainian journalists from doing their crucial work. In the middle of wartime, they cannot inform the public – or speak truth to power – without power

Since October, Russia has deliberately used missiles to destroy or damage Ukrainian energy infrastructure. This has deprived millions of civilians of access to electricity, heat and water. It has also made the already difficult work of Ukrainian journalists and media outlets even more challenging.

“Damage to the energy infrastructure makes it almost impossible for journalists to work. This development will likely lead to an informational blackout where millions of Ukrainians lose access to up-to-date information. In the middle of a war, this is incredibly serious,” Roman Kifliuk, IMS’ National Adviser for Ukraine, says.

IMS and Lviv Media Forumlaunched a campaign to support Ukrainian journalists and provide them with equipment to lessen their dependence on the damaged energy infrastructure.

“We have received many requests for help from media outlets that need to continue their work in the context of increasing attacks on the energy infrastructure. To keep newsrooms operational under these conditions, they need the appropriate energy equipment: portable generators and power stations, power banks, solar stations, uninterruptible power supplies and adapters,” Olga Myrovych, Head of Lviv Media Forum, says.

Lviv Media Forum will research the needs of media outlets and on that basis create and distribute “Energy Independence Kits”. These kits will be individually tailored to each newsroom with the aim of making them energy autonomous; this way, they can continue their reporting and distribution of information and content even in the middle of severe power cuts.

Half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure affected

According to Foreign Policy, close to 50 percent of the country’s energy facilities have already been affected by Russian attacks, and the remaining 50 percent remain under constant threat of bombardment. It is assumed that attacks will continue in the coming months.

 Some cities in Ukraine have managed to maintain a so-called normal power outage schedule where they have access to power in four-hour blocks three times per day. But in other places, blackouts can last up to 12 hours per day.

Russian shelling also led to record interruptions with mobile communication and the internet. According to NetBlocks, internet access in Ukraine has dropped to 35 percent of previous levels.

“During a full-scale war, at the frontline, during blackouts, Ukrainian journalists do everything to ensure that their audiences have access to information and that society remains true to democratic values. And the Lviv Media Forum team works with partners to ensure that free media have opportunities for survival and development,” Olga Myrovych says.

Journalists are crucial in times of war

IMS continues to work with our partners in Ukraine to provide the public with access to reliable information. Journalists and independent media outlets, particularly in times of war, are critical guarantors of the flow of independent, trustworthy news and information. What we have seen so far is that this war is certainly also an information war. All efforts must be made to ensure that the Ukrainian and international public can access reliable information. You can support IMS and our Ukrainian partners here.