CNN’s Alex Marquardt, Ukraine’s Ambassador And Others Urge Support For War Journalists’ Health And Safety – Deadline
Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova told a gathering of Washington politicos and media types that the Russian invasion has been a “game changer” in which “the freedom of press and freedom of expression and the freedom of speech suddenly became an existential need.”
She was speaking at a fundraiser on Thursday for Reporters Without Borders, which is raising money for journalists, including Ukrainian journalists and international freelancers, who need such things as security equipment and health assistance as they cover the war in Ukraine.
Markarova said of the journalists covering the war, “Really you are as brave and as heroic as all the Ukrainians as all the Ukrainians who are fighting. It takes a lot of courage and it takes a lot of values and principles to leave your comfortable life here. There are a lot of stories to choose from. But we’re very grateful to everyone who chooses this story, because the story is very important.”
Among those who just returned was CNN’s Alex Marquardt, who got back last weekend from his second assignment there since the war began. He told the crowd that “it is dangerous and difficult and expensive work, and I have rarely felt so fortunate to be working at a place like CNN that has the resources to devote to this story, not just so we can cover it well but that we can cover it safely.”
Marquardt noted that when he was traveling in and around Kharkiv, the crew had two armored vehicles, a security adviser who was a trained medic and a second paramedic who was nearby.
“I know how rare that is, and I know how many reporters are out there telling this story without those kinds of resources, particularly Ukrainian reporters who are trying to tell the story of their country under assault. There are countless freelancers, both international and Ukrainian, who need body armor, they need medical training, they need an internet connection, they need financial support and eventually they may also need psychological support.”
Also speaking was Dr. Robert Montgomery, chair of NYU Langone Department of Surgery and Transplant Institute director, who recently traveled to Lviv to perform surgeries at the Lviv Transplant Center.
“To walk through those ICUs and see the mangled bodies and minds that have occurred as a result of this is just something that… I think if we could take cameras, into hospitals, I think people would feel really differently about a lot of the tremendous human tragedies that have occurred.”
He said that he was impressed by the resilience of the surgeons and medical staff, and has led an effort to raise $280,000 for operating room equipment. He plans to return in the fall when the equipment arrives. Montgomery told the crowd, “Don’t forget, and don’t let this become an old news story.”
In addition to Marquardt, other co-hosts attending the event included Yasmeen Abutaleb, Shane Harris and Damian Paletta of The Washington Post, NBC News Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, News Media Alliance president and CEO David Chavern; Haddad Media CEO Tammy Haddad, New York Times correspondent Jonathan Martin and CBS News Radio White House correspondent Steven Portnoy. Other co-hosts included ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl; CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, MSNBC Host Stephanie Ruhle, and Axios Managing Editor Margaret Talev.
Clayton Weimers, executive director of the Washington Bureau of Reporters Without Borders, said that they have established an office in Lviv, the Press Freedom Center, to support journalists there. He also said that they are launching their own investigative unit.
Ned Price, spokesman for the State Department, noted the loss of a number of journalists in Ukraine. That included Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski and nd Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshinova, who were killed in an attack in March while correspondent Benjamin Hall was severely injured. He is recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. Price said that the attack was not only on those individuals, “but also on the principal of media freedom, free speech, freedom of the press, the need to tell the story of what is happening in Ukraine.”
Marquardt said that his recent assignment in Ukraine was a “wildly different experience” than the first time covering the war “some in positive ways, many in disheartening ways, largely because of the destruction that has now spread all across the country and the realization from so many Ukrainians that this is going to be a very long conflict.”