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Some International Reporters Have Chosen to Settle Down in Ukraine Permanently

Some International Reporters Have Chosen to Settle Down in Ukraine Permanently

Last month, when photojournalist Irynka Hromotska crossed from Poland to Ukraine, she experienced a sense of relief as the burden of guilt lifted.

During the invasion of Russia in February 2022, Hromotsk, a Ukrainian citizen, was studying for a master’s degree in photojournalism as a Fulbright scholar at the Missouri School of Journalism in the United States.

Feeling distant from home and loved ones was a burden. However, according to Hromotska, her recent comeback to Lviv for work in the media has been beneficial.

“I no longer feel guilty,” she informed VOA. “I was consumed by guilt constantly, to the point where I had forgotten what it feels like to be without it.”

Hromotska is one of many journalists who have decided to permanently relocate to Ukraine in order to work for local media outlets.

A class is taught underground in a subway station in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Jan. 20, 2024. Officials opened such sites to protect kids from Russian missile strikes. Even in wartime, there is excitement for Ukraine's future, journalist Dominic Culverwell says.

A group is being instructed in a subway station located in Kharkiv, Ukraine on January 20, 2024. These locations were established by officials to safeguard children from potential missile attacks from Russia. Despite being in a state of war, journalist Dominic Culverwell reports that there is still hope and anticipation for the future of Ukraine.

The Kyiv Independent, a news site in English, has gained recognition from both local and global readers in the last two years through the efforts of its employees. They are all driven by a common goal to support Ukraine in the most effective way possible.

One of these individuals is Masha Lavrova. After working as a preschool teacher in Australia, Lavrova moved back to her hometown of Kyiv and currently holds positions as a TikTok producer and podcast host at The Kyiv Independent.

Lavrova expressed that she believes she is contributing to the success and battle.

However, even individuals from other countries are motivated to pursue full-time employment in Ukraine. Lili Bivings, an American journalist, stated to VOA that she made the choice to establish her life and professional path in Ukraine well before the 2022 full-scale invasion.

After serving in the Peace Corps in Ukraine, Bivings developed a deep love for the country. When she was offered a permanent position as the business editor for The Kyiv Independent in the capital city, she did not hesitate to accept.

She expressed her gratitude towards Ukraine for all it has done for her and the opportunities it has provided in her life. She also shared her deep affection for the country. She believes that when you care for someone or something, you should not abandon them during tough times. Therefore, it was an easy choice for her to come back and continue residing in Ukraine.

However, there are challenges that come with this work. Relocating to a country in the midst of war requires adjusting to air raids, which, although infrequent, gradually become a regular part of daily life, according to Bivings.

According to Bivings, the initial experience can be quite frightening. However, with subsequent occurrences, the fear may diminish. In some cases, by the third time, one may not even bother getting out of bed depending on their location. It is a peculiar realization that one can reach a point where these occurrences are simply shrugged off.

Bivings reports that there is opposition from individuals who do not want negative information shared about the war, such as reports on corruption or the delayed response to Russia’s offensive.

A woman takes broken glass from an apartment building window after a Russian attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Jan. 23, 2024. Some journalists' motivation to work in Ukraine comes from a sense that too few people with personal ties to the nation were doing so.

A female individual collects shattered glass from a window of an apartment building following a Russian assault in Kyiv, Ukraine on January 23, 2024. For certain journalists, their drive to work in Ukraine stems from a feeling that not enough individuals with personal connections to the country are doing so.

Many journalists are motivated to permanently work in Ukraine because they feel that not enough people with personal ties to the country are reporting on it.

According to Anna Belokur, the social media manager for The Kyiv Independent, she was troubled by the number of individuals in the media who were using the war as a way to advance their careers, despite not being directly impacted by it.

Belokur, who has American and Ukrainian roots, relocated to Kyiv in August from Prague. She was previously employed at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a sister station of VOA.

She expressed that it would be insincere of her to continue living and working based on the tragic event while only observing it from afar.

Bivings noted that there is a divide among foreign correspondents in Ukraine, with some solely focused on reporting on the war and others covering all aspects of the country.

Some of the residents who have made this place their home for the long term may view the journalists who have come here solely due to the war’s popularity with suspicion, as if they are merely taking advantage of the situation. This was stated by a source.

Although the war is heavily featured, it is also crucial to have regular news coverage of Ukraine that goes beyond the conflict. The Kyiv Independent strives to maintain this balance, according to its staff.

Dominic Culverwell, a journalist covering the business sector for the website, is currently dedicated to the topic of rebuilding.

Culverwell, who is British, relocated from Berlin to Kyiv in May and has encountered numerous businesses and businesspeople in Ukraine who have shown incredible strength and determination to avoid failure.

However, according to analysts, the differentiation between domestic and international media is not entirely negative. This is because the more media coverage Ukraine receives, the more beneficial it can be.

Liubov Tsybulska, an expert in hybrid warfare, emphasized the need for collaboration in winning the war. She also stressed the importance of effectively communicating our perspective in order to gain support.

She expressed the significance of accurate coverage in a conflict that is occurring both on the battlefield and online.

Tsybulska, a former advisor to the Ukrainian government and military, established the Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security. This organization falls under the Ministry of Culture in Ukraine.

During times of war, there are numerous sources of false information, and individuals often believe these falsehoods when they are afraid. Tsybulska, speaking to VOA from Kyiv, emphasized the vital role that journalism plays in combatting this issue.

As the two-year mark of Russia’s complete invasion approaches, the commitment of the journalists remains unwavering.

Culverwell expressed a range of emotions, including both sadness and happiness, as well as challenges. They also mentioned feeling excited about what lies ahead in the future.