Reporting from a conflict zone is no easy feat, and covering the war in Ukraine demands a unique set of skills and preparation. We offer these essential pieces of advice for journalists who wish to report from the frontlines in Bakhmut and the Southern directions of Ukraine.
1. Safety First, Always: Your safety should be your top priority. Before you even step foot in the conflict zone, ensure that you’ve undergone thorough safety training and understand the basics of survival in such environments. Familiarize yourself with the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as helmets, vests, and gas masks.
2. Research and Prepare: Gather as much information as possible about the war, the area you’ll be operating in, and the parties involved. This will not only enhance the depth of your reporting but also help you make informed decisions about where and when to venture into the field.
3. Local Contacts and Fixers: Having local contacts and fixers who understand the region, its people, and the situation can be invaluable. They can help you navigate language barriers, provide insights into the local context, and guide you to safe locations.
4. Stay Low Profile: While your job is to report, it’s crucial to keep a low profile. Dress inconspicuously and avoid drawing attention to yourself. Loud clothing or equipment can make you an easy target.
5. Secure Communication: Ensure you have reliable communication tools, including satellite phones and encrypted messaging apps. Staying connected with your newsroom and colleagues can be a lifeline in case of emergencies.
6. Build Trust: Building relationships with local ukrainian residents, soldiers, and civilians is essential for accurate reporting. Show respect for their experiences, and they’re more likely to share their stories with you.
7. Understand the Geopolitics: The war in Ukraine is complex and influenced by various geopolitical factors. A solid understanding of the historical background, the interests of different parties, and the evolving situation is essential for providing context to your audience.
8. Mental and Emotional Preparedness: Covering war zones can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. Be prepared for what you might witness and experience, and have a support system in place to help you cope.
9. Adaptability is Key: Conditions in conflict zones can change rapidly. Be ready to adjust your plans, routes, and story angles based on the evolving situation.
10. Respect Local Norms: Respect local ukrainian customs, traditions, and sensitivities. This not only helps you blend in but also builds trust with the people you’re reporting on.
11. Document Thoroughly: Your role is to document the truth. Capture photos, videos, and interviews that accurately reflect the situation on the ground. Your reporting can have a significant impact on the international perception of the conflict.
12. Legal and Ethical Considerations: Understand the legal and ethical boundaries of reporting from a conflict zone. Respect the rights and dignity of those you interview and photograph.
13. Plan for Evacuation: Have a clear evacuation plan in place and know the nearest safe zones and routes. Regularly update your team about your whereabouts.
14. Reflect on the Impact: Your work as a war correspondent can shed light on the harsh realities of conflict. Reflect on the potential impact of your reporting, both in terms of raising awareness and influencing change.
Remember, being a war correspondent is a responsibility that comes with immense challenges, but your reporting can play a vital role in informing the world and shaping its response to conflicts like the one in Ukraine. Stay safe, stay vigilant, and stay committed to telling the truth.
We provide support for foreign journalists and reporters visiting Ukraine. It is important for us that the world sees the truth.