Ukrainian and Russian Journalists Are Raising Money To Survive
Media groups across Europe have raised more than $4 million between GoFundMe campaigns and direct donations for Ukrainian journalists fighting to sustain their coverage.
Ukrainian journalists, covering a war at home that not only threatens their lives, but also their livelihoods, are turning to crowdsourced funds to sustain coverage on the ground and even help relocate news hubs to neighboring countries. A consortium of media groups across Europe have raised more than $4 million in just over two weeks between between GoFundMe campaigns and direct donations, NiemanLab reports. About $1.5 million of those funds have been raised for the Kyiv Independent, and $2.5 million have gone toward other independent Ukrainian press.
The contributions are paying for emergency equipment and supplies such as bulletproof vests and helmets and covering Ukrainian media’s operational costs such as gas and IT, among other forms of support. The coalition of media groups, which includes The Fix, Are We Europe, Jnomics, and the Media Development Foundation, has seen “tremendous support” from Poland, Germany, and the Nordic countries, according to Zakhar Protsiuk, a managing editor at The Fix. “From the long-term perspective, we need to make sure that media, especially those of national significance, will continue to operate and report on the war effectively,” Protsiuk told NiemanLab—which is why some proceeds are helping Ukrainian journalists relocate to neighboring countries and set up hubs. Journalists who were forced to flee Russia are likewise trying to figure out how to rebuild their operations, including those from TV Rain—the last independent TV network in Russia—which went dark on March 3; on Monday, Puck’s Julia Ioffe started a GoFundMe on their behalf.
Meduza, the largest remaining Russian independent news outlet, is also turning to crowdfunding in an attempt to sustain what’s left of the country’s non-state approved reportage, which Vladimir Putin all but outlawed as he signed a law threatening journalists with up to 15 years in prison for calling his war on Ukraine a war (the Kremlin refers to it as a “special military operation”). Meduza asked the rest of the world for help on Monday in a crowdfunding campaign, saying that they had in recent weeks lost funding from 30,000 members—“since the outbreak of this war, transferring money from Russia to Europe has been impossible”—and asking the international community to take their place. “Save Meduza for our Russian readers—and for yourself,” Meduza staff wrote. “We have a duty to tell the truth,” and “millions of readers in Russia who need us.”
The Kremlin has previously tried to censor Meduza, which publishes both in Russian and in English, by tagging it as a “foreign agent,” a label the site was forced to disclose on its work and that caused Meduza to lose most of its advertisers. The newsroom survived thanks to the support of readers—Meduza is based in Latvia, but about 70 percent of their audience is inside Russia—more than 90,000 of which answered Meduza’s crowdfunding appeal to “save Meduza,” the New York Times reported last year. Now, having lost most of their donations and revenue streams from inside Russia, Meduza is hoping the rest of the world will contribute to a new crowdfunding campaign, one asking international donors “on behalf of the many Russians who cannot,” the campaign reads. “Without independent journalism, it will be impossible to stop this monstrous war.”