Conflicts & War

Reporters debate how to make Ukrainian voices resonate around the world

By Rostyslav Averchuk

Lviv, Ukraine, May 28 (EFE).- Gathered in a bomb shelter, Ukrainian and foreign journalists discuss the challenge of making Ukrainian voices heard around the world, beyond the West.

More than 400 media and public policy professionals, as well as social society activists, met in Lviv for the new edition of the annual Media Forum to talk about the main challenges facing the media in Ukraine and their role in covering the ongoing Russian invasion.

The meeting’s format was marked by the continuing Russian drone and missile attacks, with three days of discussions taking place below the ground to avoid interruptions by possible air attack alarms.

“One of the Lviv Media Forum’s goals is to advocate for Ukraine in international professional circles. That’s why we sought to balance the lineup of speakers, including not only those who unquestionably support us but also moderate skeptics,” said Olga Myrovych, Head of Lviv Media Forum NGO.

“In Ukraine, we sometimes think that the world has already heard us and knows what is going on here. Unfortunately, this is not universally true”, she told EFE.

Many people, including decision-makers, are not sure what Ukraine is fighting for and see it as a distant and local conflict, Myrovych added.

“It is important that no dialogue about Ukraine and the ways to end the war happens without Ukraine. One of our key messages is that peace is only possible as a triumph over evil, not a series of compromises with it”, she underlined.

Nataliya Gumenyuk, a prominent Ukrainian journalist and co-founder of the Public Interest Journalism Lab, told EFE that one of the biggest challenges to overcome is the perception of Ukraine being a “bargaining chip” between big geopolitical players.

“I don’t think that speaking to the foreign audiences about the war in geopolitical terms, as is often done, is helpful, due to its immediate polarizing effect”.

This perception vanishes when one arrives in Ukraine and speaks to the affected civilians and military, Gumenyuk continued.

“Telling human stories helps the audience see the reality of this war much more clearly”, she said.

Gumenyuk’s organization has just launched the Uniting Continents projects and is set to welcome a delegation from seven leading Latin American media next week.

She hopes to show them the effects of the Russian invasion by taking journalists and editors to Izium and Bucha and enabling them to speak to military, medics, and experts.

Gumenyuk also warns against dictating Ukrainian narratives to foreign audiences.

“We have to ask what the journalists and their audiences in Latin America want to know about Ukraine, what they are interested in”, she explained.

David Stulik, former Press and Information Officer at the EU Delegation to Ukraine, also commended the recent push by Ukraine’s foreign ministry to reinvigorate the country’s dialogue with African countries.

“Ukraine should talk with Africans about decolonization and show that Ukrainians have also been going through this process, after the collapse of the Moscow-controlled Soviet Union”, he underlined.

The forum guests highlighted the importance of the work of Ukrainian and foreign journalists on the ground to document the alleged war crimes committed by Russia.

“Despite all the challenges that Ukrainian journalism is going through right now, there has never been a moment when it was as alive as it is now. Our journalists have demonstrated resilience and dedication to their profession in the most difficult of times”, Olga Myrovych told EFE.

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