What it means to be a Ukrainian journalist

ABOf the journalists from Ukraine, Anna Babinets is worth a special mention. She was one of the first to start covering the Ukrainian crisis live, using just a mobile camera and a portable internet router. She was at the forefront of the Yanukovychleaks community. She went to Crimea to provide objective reporting of the events there. Finally, Anna co-founded an independent online broadcast media hromadske.tv and an investigative journalism agency slidstvo.info in the Ukraine. At the International Journalism Festival 2014, Babinets called her EU colleagues who cover the Ukrainian crisis to visit Kyiv personally and form an objective vision. “The capital is a safe place today,” she affirmed.

By Krystina Shveda

How did your engagement as a Ukrainian journalist on Maidan start?
The first night, November 21, I didn’t even show up at Maidan, I thought it’s just another political squabble which will calm down in a few days (People were discontented that the former President retreated abruptly from signing the European partnership agreement – author’s note). In reality, more and more people were joining every day. The night when the police beat the students, I realized it was serious. I couldn’t stay away any longer and came to Maidan that night; later, my husband, who is also a journalist, joined and brought me a camera to report live.

At hromadske.tv, we leveraged any available means for that – smartphones to record videos and portable routers to download them to the website immediately. Looking back, I feel proud that this step was a break-through in Ukrainian journalism and now even traditional newsrooms sometimes use mobile reporting.

What did you feel being in the middle of the crisis – was it fear, or something else?
From the first day on Maidan and further on in Crimea and other hot spots, I had only one thought in my head – this is my duty as a journalist to provide the audience with the real-time news. I would wake up at night and drive to the place, I would get up and go to another city. When the crisis flared up in Crimea, I had to leave in the middle of my husband’s birthday party.

I think I felt fear only once – on Friday 20, when snipers would shoot at unarmed people in Kyiv. The crowd streams were moving so fast I was scared not to be able to keep up with its pace and be crushed. At that moment, I couldn’t even imagine somebody would dare shoot at people.

In your view, how could your EU colleagues cover the Ukrainian events better?
There is only one thing I want to say – please, do come and witness events with your own eyes. I am not asking you to come to the hot spots but it is more than possible to visit Kyiv. The capital today is a safe place to be and still you can get the essence of the crisis here. I am used to walking on the streets at 10-11 p.m with no bad experiences.

European media should publish the news that is based on their journalists’ investigations and avoid copying anybody else’s propaganda. Providing unbiased news and multiple opinions is something that democracy implies, isn’t it?